If you know me, you know that I’ll beg you to make your birthday cake. Or your neighbor’s birthday cake. Maybe even your little pet hamster’s cake, if I have the ingredients on hand (what is that exactly, wood shavings?). But this cake – this particular people cake – is one of my all time faves, made every mid-January for my cousin’s birthday. It’s a recipe from a dear friend – Pat – a coworker from his YMCA camp directorship days.
This moist, yummy bundt cake provides the lingering subltey of almond extract balanced with the snap of a generous portion of poppy seeds (hint: you’ll need the whole spice jar).
The cake is matched with the King of Icing’s – cream cheese – which I supply in outrageous fashion. This year, I quadrupled the original recipe and piped streams of creamy goodness like a fountain from the middle of the cake over all the sides, only to pool up where cake meets plate. Which naturally leads one to ask, is there any way we can get this stuff intravenously?
To increase the icing intake, I cut the cake in two, which teetered on bundt cake blasphemy. I’m not sure why bundt layering is never done.
Is it a moisture issue? An aesthetic mess? I might have worried for a half minute about “cake dry” but the vat of cream cheese icing before me served as ample distraction. Also, the cake was eaten later that same day, so I saved my worry over too dry baked goods for another time, likely cinnamon roll day. I’m thinking about trying Pioneer Woman’s version, while we’re still waking up to chilly winter mornings. When and if they happen, I’ll let you know how they turn out.
But…back to our bisected bundt. When the cake was all but ready to pack up and take to the party, I became inspired by fancy diner cakes, garnished perfectly with whipped cream stars and chocolate shavings. Those “highlights” that hint at the ingredients inside. So to finish off this awesomeness, I splashed some poppy seeds on top and at the icing pools at bottom. Then I chopped up a few almonds, and sprinkled on the final hint, creating a bit of a flower effect.
Here’s the recipe, with the icing recipe already quadrupled. You’re welcome. (;
Pat’s Poppy Seed Cake
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup poppy seeds (plus 2 tablespoons for garnish)
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups sour cream (not low fat)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour baking pan(s) (I use baking spray). In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugar and butter on medium high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the poppy seeds and mix until incorporated.
3. Add the egg yolks to the batter and mix on medium speed until well combined. Then, with the mixer on low speed, gradually add 1/3 of the flour mixture, alternating with 1/3 of the sour cream, and continue until all of the flour mixture and sour cream are incorporated. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix on medium speed until just incorporated.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer) until they are fluffy, but not stiff (just soft peaks).
5. Using a large spatula or wooden spoon, fold the egg whites into the batter. Do not overmix.
6. Pour batter into a bundt pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. If using 2 layer cake pans, bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cake is ready when the top browns and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to complete cooling.
All the Cream Cheese Icing You’ll Ever Need*
4 packages of cream cheese (8 ounce packages, not low fat), softened
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
2 pounds powdered sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and cream cheese on medium high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined.
2. Add the vanilla and salt and mix on medium high speed until well combined.
* Seriously, this is so much icing for a bundt cake (but likely perfect for a frosted layer cake – add a bit more powdered sugar for stiffness). Bring the extra icing to the party in a little bowl for cookie dipping. That’s what’s we do, but that’s only when I’m able to “be the bigger person” and leave it alone in the kitchen at home. 2 years out of 5 ain’t bad, right?