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German Poppy Seed Cake

Poppy Seeds! Image from

I”m delighted to introduce a new contributor to CheapEats – Julie Melia. Julie is one of my dearest friends, an absolutely fantastic cook and so funny that she’s made me laugh beer out of my nose hundreds of times. She”ll be sharing some recipes, reviews and other interesting stuff with us – I hope you enjoy them. (Jean)

I’m not really a cake person. I usually associate it with standing around awkwardly holding plates and making small talk as I figure out how I’m going to ditch the cloying icing in a pot plant. However, there are occasions where you just have to make a stoopid cake and this German Poppy Seed cake is different. It’s crunchy, moist, buttery, and there’s no goo in it or on it. The poppy seeds are the Barbra Streisands – they write, direct and star – and it’s neatly encased (not smothered) in buttercream icing, which is basically custard and butter mixed together and hardened.  It will support birthday candles, it will listen to your problems and it won’t tell anyone if you eat it all on your own. It’s a good cake by Rachel Allen. Wait! Come back! I know she gets a bad rap for saying ‘batter’ instead of ‘butter’ but, whilst not necessarily a natural presenter, she’s a natural cook.


You”ll need an 8” springform tin (sides greased and bottom lined)

  • 150g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • 100g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 75g poppy seeds (cheapest in Asian stores)

For the icing:

  • 125g caster sugar
  • 150ml milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 175g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Cream together the butter and caster sugar, gradually adding the beaten eggs. Then sift in the flour and baking powder and stir in the poppy seeds. Pour it all into the tin and make a little hollow in the centre. Bake it at 170’c for about half an hour and let it cool on a wire rack.
  2. Then, dissolve the caster sugar in the milk by slowly bringing to the boil. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl and pour the warm milk onto them, still whisking.  Pour it all back in the saucepan and stir over a lowish heat with a wooden spoon for about 10 mins until you have a light custard. If you overheat it will scramble. Let it cool in a jug.  Cream the butter until fluffy and whisk in the slightly warm custard, adding the vanilla extract
  3. Spread the icing over the cooled cake with a knife. All over it. Don’t be shy. Leave it to chill in the fridge. See if you can get it all into your mouth in one go.


  1. Welcome Julie. I absolutely adore poppy seeds cake, but never thought of icing it. Will try it for sure!

  2. Hi Julie, Absolutely agree with your comment about Rachel Allen. I have a few of her books and any of the recipes I’ve tried have been easy to follow and worked out well. Cake sounds “yum”