As a child I hated layered, butter-cream, traditional birthday cakes. I suffered whenever I went to other children’s parties and were given a huge slice of an extremely sweet and nauseous cake. My mum’s cake was the only exception and a complete outsider in this category. Everything about it was different. First of all, it wasn’t overly sweet. Secondly, the cake basis was not spongy, but very moist and made not with flour, but with soaked and ground poppy seeds and a bit of bread crumbs. You have probably seen or tasted many sweets with tasteless and dry poppy seeds, but soaked and ground they acquire an unusual nutty flavour enhanced by walnuts pieces. As for the cream, even though it was the traditional butter type, it was loaded with bitter cocoa and was never nauseous thanks to the lemon juice my mum always added. I remember I loved this cake so much, I would practically live on the rests of it for the two days following my birthday party (it was very big, so there was always at least a half left).
Dexterity, patience or love of details, necessary to make such elaborate pastry, are not really my qualities, so even though I have been missing its extraordinary taste and have been planning to prepare this cake for years, I was simply too scared to try it. This year, as my birthday was approaching, I felt a bit nostalgic about the years passing by and desperately needed something to cheer me up. This is how I decided to give it a try.
Just in case I would be able to devour as much as I did as a child, I took two important decisions. First, I reduced the cake’s size by half and, secondly, I substituted the butter cream with chocolate ganache (e.i. a mixture of chocolate and cream), slightly less disastrous in consequences (I hope). Of course – as you can see above – I have totally messed up the aesthetic and technical side. My cake resembled a big, unequally shaped ball, the layers were not very neat and the decoration clumsy, but the taste and the texture were extraordinary. I was very proud to see I had managed to make the poppy soft basis exactly like my mum’s: moist and deliciously original. As for the chocolate ganache, it was a perfect substitute for the butter cocoa cream. It was still very rich, heavenly good, but made me feel a little less guilty when, traditionally, I was finishing the cake the following day. It was simply the adult version of my beloved birthday cake.
If you want a traditionally-sized, big cake, double the amounts of both the cake and the cream. This cake keeps perfect and delicious for at least three days.
Before I pass to the recipe I would like to express my gratitude to Kelly from Inspired Edibles for doing something every food blogger dreams about, e.i. testing one of my recipes, namely my Eggless Applesauce Cake. Those who haven’t seen her Thursday post, should click here and admire the complex and elaborate, fabulous Apple Streusel Cake she has made, adapting my simple and humble Applesauce Cake.
I would also like to thank Stefanie from A Dash of Sugar and Spice for the Liebster Blog Award, she has given to the blogs which have less than 200 subscribers and which, according to her should have more of them. Thank you, Stefanie, I feel honoured and very proud you appreciate my blog so much!
I would like to pass this award to the bloggers who, I think, deserve much much more followers, subscribers or visitors. I am not sure if the bloggers I have chosen have less than 200 subscribers, but I certainly wish them more popularity:
Arudhi from A Box of Kitchen
I know that Charles from Five Euro Food has already received this award and also from Stefanie, but I thought I would say I totally agree with her 🙂
Jeno from Weeknite Meals
Jessica from Green Skies and Sugar Trips
Ping from Ping’s Pickings
Shannon from As A Delish
Shu Han from Mummy, I can cook!
Now back to the recipe.
Preparation: about 5 hours, but count a whole day (both the cake and the ganache can be prepared the night before, kept in the fridge overnight and assembled the following day)
Ingredients (for a 20 cm diameter baking dish):
100 g confectioner’s sugar
125 g poppy seeds
1 tablespoon honey (I used agave syrup)
6 high heaped tablespoons dry bread crumbs
8 walnut kernels, roughly chopped
Cream (chocolate ganache):
250 g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
250 ml liquid cream (25% fat or more)
5 heaped tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
Cake soaking mixture:
1 small coffee cup of very strong black tea
50 – 100 ml rum (or artificial rum flavouring)
1 tablespoon sugar
50 g ground walnuts + 10 kernels for decoration
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Prepare the chocolate ganache.
Break the chocolate into pieces, put into a pan with cream and, constantly stirring, dissolve it on a very low heat (do not boil!).
Put aside and when it has cooled down, refrigerate for a couple of hours, until the ganache thickens.
(Add the sugar only when the ganache is cold, just before you put it into the cake.)
Prepare the cake.
Put the poppy seeds into a pan with cold water. Bring to boil and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
Drain the poppy seeds and grind them in a meat grinder (with the smallest holes) or mix well in a blender (they will become moist and mushy).
Separate the yolks from the whites.
Mix the yolks with the sugar, add the mixed/ground poppy seeds, the bread crumbs, the honey and the walnuts.
Beat the egg whites and incorporate them delicately into the poppy mixture.
Line a round baking dish (20 cm diameter) with baking paper or grease it with butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs (the cake will be very sticky).
Pour the poppy cake and bake for about 40-50 minutes. (Make a wooden skewer test: if it comes out dry, the cake is ready).
Let the cake chill out and put it into the fridge for at least one hour (it’s easier to cut when very cold).
When the cake is completely cold, cut it horizontally into 3 slices.
When deciding in which order you should put the slices, bear in mind the bottom of the cake is always smooth and perfect for the top.
Divide the chocolate ganache into three equal parts.
Place the first part of the cake, sprinkle with a bit of the soaking mixture and spread 1/3 of the ganache over it.
Cover with the second cake layer, sprinkle with a bit of the soaking mixture and spread 1/3 ganache over it.
Cover with the last part of the cake and spread the remaining part all around the sides and on the top of the cake.
Sprinkle with some ground walnuts and decorate with kernels.
Refrigerate for at least three hours. Serve cold.