Tag Archives: almond

Almond Poppy Seed Awesomeness Cake


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?


Filed under cakes, cakes for grown-ups

Almond poppy seed cookies with pink blackberry sugar for babe

Exactly two weeks ago, after waiting 9 long months and holding “big family” aspirations for decades, I held her in my arms for the first time.  People would ask, “how many?”  I would say 3, but in my heart I knew it was 4.  And now she is – that magic number – all whole body stretches, suckling dreams, 20 inches of her.  My beautiful last child.

Labor started slow and ended fast.  While my husband and I walked the halls of the hospital, hoping for labor to progress, I was reminded in small ways of the birth of my first child, Linnea.  This time, Chris didn’t need to stop every two minutes to massage the tension in my lower back, but we did spend the day – like before – alone with each other and our private jokes in the crowded hospital.  Romantic, almost.  Mostly because an impending birth always brings fear.  I try to breathe through it, deflect by calling it a natural body process, but it’s there, waiting for me to face and conquer.  Hopefully, that occurs with a dose of serenity and also kindness for the nurses that always seem to catch the right cloud in to attend to me.

There were no complications, just the tricky breathing and mind games through the transition stage and the pushing – which came in a rush – versus the marathon of a first child’s birth.  We called it “Linnea Light.”

And so our baby Ren Inez came to be.  She’s kept me underwater a bit over the last two weeks, managing nursing and sleep and endless diaper changes – and oh – the rest of the family.

Chris took a week off and then went in late for a week, all to help me.  Romantic, for real.

Just today I managed it by myself, fell into my old tracks of school drop offs, child care and extracurricular activities.  The magnet in me gripped the road with enthusiasm.  I could feel the slow ascent from the valley and am now catching a breath before bracing for another loop-de-loop.

That breath gave me time for the one thing that I will always make time for…COOKIES!  Also, I needed an easy reason to announce the birth of my baby.  Because this is a baking blog, I figured the baby pics had to accompany something that spent time in the oven.  So I made a chewy favorite.

While I am quite fond of the decorated variety, my husband won’t touch them.  He prefers a chewy cookie, slightly under baked.  Because this basic recipe is easy and a loved by many, I made them.  And because this time, they’re in honor of Ren, I coated them in a girly-pink blackberry sugar before baking (1/2 cup sugar mixed with juice from frozen blackberries.  Don’t saturate.  Mixture should feel like concrete.)

The blackberry sugar is completely unnecessary for the cookies, but then I was never one to leave an accessory in the jewelry box…

Chewy Almond Poppy Seed Cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2  teaspoons pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds.

2.  Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.  Add egg and extracts.  Mix until smooth.

3.  Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture until combined.

4.  Using a 1-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake until golden and just set, 8 to 9 minutes.  Cookies will appear underdone.  Immediately remove the cookies from the pan and let cool on parchment on wire racks.


Filed under soft & chewy cookies