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12 March 2012

Orange and Poppy Seed Cake

There is something about me and baking that doesn't connect sometimes.  But I am not one who gives up easily, so persistence is my choice of weapon.  If you read my previous post about the two cakes I baked, Torta Paradiso and Yogurt Cake with Pears, I encountered problems in baking them.  Being  a novice baker, I'm sure it's normal and some of you could have gone through frustrating moments too before arriving to the perfect cakes. 

So here is the second orange cake that I mentioned in my previous post, the Olive Oil & Orange Cake with Pistachios.  It was a day when I had a big orange cake fix to satisfy that growing craving.  Two types of orange cakes, both astoundingly delicious and moist.  Then where did I go wrong?

This cake was originally in a 20 cm. round baking pan, following what was written in the directions.  I was very satisfied with myself because I followed the directions to the letter.  I had the same smug smile as my first grader son when he finishes his homework with good results. 

However, as I was putting the pan in the oven, it slipped from my hands after I got distracted by a playful shriek from Sofia, from down the corridor.  I had a big mess of batter all over the oven.  God, it was an accident that you just imagine that happens, not something that can actually happen to you!  Half remained in the pan and half was dripping from the open oven door down to the floor.  

It was a big job to take away the oven door, three panels in all, wipe them clean and empty every little crevice in the oven.  I was on the verge of hating the sight of poppy seeds and cake batter.  You can see them everywhere.   

So that is why my cake was halved, unintentionally, caused by a big messy accident. 

Nonetheless, it came out perfectly and tastes so good.  Try this cake but make sure it arrives inside the oven safely.  

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay's Modern Classics 2 Cookbook.


Orange & Poppy Seed Cake 

Serves 8 - 10 in a 20 cm. round baking pan 

  • 1/3 cup poppy seeds
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 200 g. butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon orange rind, finely grated
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup shredded orange rind
  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. 
  2. Place the poppy seeds and milk in a bowl and stir to combine.  Set aside.
  3. Place the butter, orange rind and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until light and creamy. 
  4. Gradually add the eggs and beat well. 
  5. Sift the flour and baking powder over the butter mixture and add the orange juice and poppy seed and milk mixture.  
  6. Stir to combine and spoon into a 20 cm round cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper.
  7. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until cooked.  Test with a skewer.
  8. While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. 
  9. Place the sugar, orange juice and orange rind in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and boil for 5-6 minutes or until syrupy. 
  10. Pour half of the hot syrup over the hot cake.
  11. To serve, cut the warm or cold cake into wedges and pour over the remaining syrup. 


  1. Looks really moist! Never baked anything with poppy seeds! Must try! :) Lovely photography bdw!

    1. The poppy seeds gave a very slight crunch to the cake. The cake itself was moist and good. Thank you very much Sue!

  2. Oh, I so understand about connecting with baking! I have about two, maybe three, things I can bake consistently well. Most of the time it's hit and miss. I'm sure it's because I'm neglectful -- either in over or under baking or not measuring exactly or using the wrong pan or substituting too freely. Like you, I won't give up, though. And this looks like one I can't screw up, right?

    1. Baking needs precision, you're right. I have to be disciplined enough to pay attention in baking cakes. Practice and persistence, that's what we need too. You won't screw this one up. It's fairly easy!

  3. The battle is usually not how it tastes, though we suspect this is VERY good, but how good can we make it look. This is unbelievable; we can taste with our eyes. We will try it!!

    Kathryn & Allan

  4. Oh Rowena how I understand! I had a similar mess awhile ago! All over the open glass oven door- which was understandably very hot & it all just stuck to that door -what a mess!!! I attempted just this Saturday to bake my mom a birthday cake for her 69th birthday & half way thru putting all the ingredients together I realized it called for lemon curd in the cake batter - this after reading the recipe at least 4 times thru- apparently somehow completely missing that important step- had to drop everything and make the lemon curd before proceeding with the rest of the recipe! I swore never to be a cake from scratch again!!!! But now I see your recipe and think hmmm just maybe.......

    1. I think our problem is that we are too much in a hurry at times that we don't really read the full recipe, just scan them. That happens to me often too. I put everything together and realize that I forgot something! Ha! I hope your Mom's cake came out well. That's the important thing. I understand that it gets too frustrating to pick up baking again when there is always something unpleasant attached to it, but do try again. I always do inspite of mistakes.

  5. Oh gosh- I have been there many times, the worst was probably when i dropped half a jar of millet on the counter and thousands of tiny seeds went everywhere you could possibly imagine!

    I love the addition of poppy seeds to this orange cake - beautifully done.

    1. Don't you just hate it when you drop things in the kitchen? Especially when they can go everywhere and would require intense cleaning. Sigh. I don't want it to happen again. I should try to be more careful. Thanks for the note!

  6. Well, I am a new at baking too. It's good to know that I am not alone in my struggles with it. I thought I just had negative talent in this department. I also chalked it up to not truly understanding the function and interplay of ingredients (baking chemistry)...Hey but maybe practice makes perfect...we shall see as I bake more. Lovely looking cake by the way. Congrats.

    1. I think, most of us fumble with the intricacies of baking at the beginning and every mistake made is lesson learned that we don't do again in the next round. I had been trying & giving up & picking up on baking over the years because I thought I was really not cut out for baking. I really think practice makes perfect, like what you said. Let's just keep on trying. I just want simple, home-baked cakes, not the art pieces. I'll leave that to the pros. Thanks for the note Anna!

  7. Hi Rowena,

    Which size loaf pan can i use for this recipe?

    Nice pics btw, i want to try this recipe this weekend! looks super super moist.

    Hope to hear from you!


    1. Hi Noura. I hope I'm not too late. The loaf pan I used is 28 x 10.5 x 8 (height) centimeters.

  8. The cake looks very tasty.

  9. Hi ! I was wondering, will the cake still taste good and moist without the syrup? :)

    1. Hi Sally, yes, it will still be moist.

  10. Loved the cake but definitely the last time I am baking using poppy seeds.they were too oily

  11. Hi there - are you able to tell me whether this works as cupcakes as well as it works for cakes (i.e. will cupcakes still turn out as moist, etc)? If this mixture does work for cupcakes, how long would you recommend cooking them for?

    Also, with regards to using a round 20cm cake tin, do you leave it in the oven to cook for the same amount of time as the loaf pan?

    Thanks :)

    1. Hi Mary, I never tried this recipe with cupcakes but I think it will still be moist. Lessen the cooking time by half and see how it is. As for the round pan, try cooking it for 45 minutes. Hope that helps.

  12. Dear Rowena, I have discovered your beautiful site through stumbleupon. This cake looks so delicious. I would love a slice with some tea or coffee. Have a wonderful day. Blessings, Catherine


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