Recipes, Desserts

Easy Poppy Seed Cake with Orange Glaze

When I say this poppy seed cake is absolutely delicious, I’m not exaggerating. It’s moist, has a delicate crumb, and the flavor combination provided by the use of extracts leaves you wanting more. When I first had this cake at my mother-in-law’s house I was instantly in awe. It is easy to prepare, without any fancy techniques or timing. It can be made in a pinch to serve a friend with a cup of hot cocoa or coffee, or dressed up and brought as a dessert to a dinner party.

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This cake, to me, is the epitome of using food to nourish a friend or your community. I envision this poppy seed cake as a “back pocket” recipe that you can whip up in little time’s notice when a loved one calls to say they are on their way to give you a hug and say hi.

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The story of this cake is really sweet – no pun intended. The recipe has been passed down to me by my mother-in-law, who created this cake as a holiday tradition back when her kids were young. The kids asked if they could bake a birthday cake for Jesus for Christmas, and my mother-in-law, being the creative that she is, wanted to use ingredients that would resemble what he would have had access to back then. If of course, they celebrated birthdays with cakes.

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The story is sweet because I love thinking of the innocence of my husband and sister-in-law as children asking in such a selfless way, why they celebrate Christmas instead of having a birthday party for Jesus. It’s become a tradition that we do with our kids at Christmas, but I certainly don’t save this cake for once a year. It’s a regular here in our home, and I hope it becomes one in yours, too.

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Easy Poppy Seed Cake with Orange Glaze


Jennifer Bravo


March 25, 2020


August 18, 2020


16 servings


Nutrition Per Serving

Serving Size - 1 slice, recipe makes 2 loaves of 8 slices

Recipe Notes

Extracts. I love the flavor combination here but do please note that butter extract is a little difficult to get your hands on. I’ve both scored and struck out at my local grocery store. I recommend trying a specialty baking store, the Wilton line at Michael’s, or ordering on Amazon. I suggest you do this, which I normally don’t make you guys go to such great efforts, because fresh butter does not work as a substitute. Once you have these extracts on hand, I suggest keeping them in your rotation so that this recipe is always easy to make.

Lemon. This is NOT a lemon poppy seed cake recipe. I repeat: this is not a lemon poppy seed cake recipe. However, if you do not like the taste of extract-heavy baked goods, or if you have an allergy, you could absolutely swap out the extracts for lemon and use this recipe as a base.

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Flour. I call for regular flour in this recipe because I realize it is what most people have on hand. However, I love using cake flour here. It substitutes quite well, so if you have it, use it. The cake flour will produce a slightly more delicate crumb. Yum. Oh and, I will have you sift the flour no matter which kind you use.

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Sugar. For the glaze, I call for regular granulated sugar. However, I sometimes use confectioner’s sugar. Regular sugar makes a crunchier, clearer glaze, while confectioners can make an opaque glaze. The fun part about this is that you can’t really get the glaze wrong. I encourage you to play around with how you like it, adding more sugar or juice until you reach your preferred texture. For the Bundt, I always want to show off the pattern and make a really thin, sauce-like glaze. Anything goes.

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