Moist Poppy Cake with Matcha Ganache


Christmas is the time for indulgence, so here I am indulging myself with the matcha cake I have been planning to make for ages. Even though layered cakes are still difficult for my clumsy hands, the beautiful green hue made me forget the uneven layers and other imperfections. In case you have doubts, I swear I haven’t added any food colouring! Actually, even I am still in awe of such a vibrant green cream. I owe it entirely to the excellent matcha I have been bringing from Japan.

This cake is based on my all-time favourite Moist Poppy Cake with Chocolate Ganache with the chocolate replaced by matcha. First of all, I had some reservations about matcha, which is not easy to pair, so the poppy seeds, a typical Polish Christmas ingredient, seemed a big risk. On the other hand, as the only matcha and poppyseed fan at home (and among possible guests), I was also afraid of a possible successful outcome, which would mean having the whole cake for myself. Obviously, the latter arrived. I don’t have words to describe how unusual and complex the combination of poppy seed and matcha is. I am spellbound and will certainly explore this idea in other sweet creations. Strangely this cake doesn’t put off the usual matcha haters because the white chocolate reduces matcha’s  astringency (which I love, so I sprinkled the cake with matcha very generously). This cake should of course be served with a cup of good Japanese green tea.

If you don’t like matcha, you might like the original cake this recipe is based on: Moist Poppy Cake with Chocolate Ganache. As much as I have enjoyed this vibrant green matcha version, the chocolate original will always remain my favourite.

Moist Poppy Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Moist Poppy Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Before I pass to the recipe details, I would like to wish all my dear readers and visitors a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May these approaching days be filled with joy, love and culinary delights.

TIPS: Ganache (pronounced “ganash”) is a mixture of chocolate and cream, sometimes butter is added. It thickens when cold and is a perfect base for chocolate truffles (see my two previous posts) and an excellent – lighter – alternative to butter creams in layered cakes. When I prepare dark chocolate ganache I usually skip the butter, but white chocolate is so sweet, I have cut down its amount and replaced with butter to reduce the sweetness.

I have prepared a rectangular version of this cake. You can make it round of course.

The white chocolate and matcha cream is really sweet, so the poppy seed cake is much less sweeter than in the original dark chocolate cake version.

If after several hours in the fridge the ganache isn’t thick enough yet to be spread as cream melt some chocolate or butter (for example 50 g) and add to the mixture. Refrigerate for one more hour. The chocolate’s quality and/or brand may make more or less thick ganache.

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 x 8 cm (about 8 x 3 in) rectangular dish or 20 cm (about 8 in) diameter round baking dish):

4 eggs

50 g/about 1,8 oz castor sugar

125 g poppy seeds

6 highly heaped tablespoons dry bread crumbs

pinch of salt

Cream (matcha ganache):

2 highly heaped teaspoons matcha

250 g/about 8 oz white chocolate 

150 ml/about 5 fl oz liquid cream (25% fat or more)

60 g/about 2 oz butter

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Prepare the chocolate ganache.

Break the chocolate into pieces, put into a pan with cream and butter, and, constantly stirring, dissolve the chocolate and butter on a very low heat (do not boil!).

Put aside and when it has cooled down, add the matcha and mix well in a food processor.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours, until the ganache thickens.

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 and the bread crumbs.

Beat the egg whites and incorporate them delicately into the poppy mixture.

Line a rectangular dish with baking paper or grease it with butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs (the cake will be very sticky; I advise rather the baking paper).

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 2 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 ganache into two equal parts.

Place the first part of the cake and spread 1/2 of the ganache over it.

Cover with the second part of the cake and spread the remaining part all around the sides and on the top of the cake.

Refrigerate for at least three hours. Serve cold, sprinkled with sieved matcha.


38 Replies to “Moist Poppy Cake with Matcha Ganache”

  1. I’m ‘dreaming of’ a jar of vibrant matcha powder like you used for your ganache. 🙂

    Who cares if your cake layers are uneven when you can eat such a delicious cake.

    Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

  2. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you my friend!!! Sorry for missing a couple of posts. I’ve been out of town for a couple of weeks visiting with family. Now we’re back for a very quiet Christmas. I love matcha!!!! Never, never, never would have thought to have pared it with a poppy seed cake, another food I love! What an ingenious creation as well as a beautiful cake! So how much higher is “highly heaped” tablespoon from “heaped” tablespoon? 🙂 Are you saying, just double it if you feel like it: 🙂 Your recipe is awesome my dear!!! Looking forward to continuing this friendship in 2014!

    1. Hi, MJ. Come on, we are all more or less on holidays now… I am now also catching up with my “blogging life” 😉 I hope you have had wonderful time with your family and marvellous Christmas.
      Thank you so much for the compliments. The combination is really unusual, but I loved it. Haha! My highly heaped tablespoons contain the maximum of stuff, so it might be rather three flat spoons… But it’s not very important to be precise. I’m sure “lowly” heaped would be ok too 😉 Happy New Year, my dear friend!

  3. Absolutely GORGEOUS Sissi. What a festive delight to discover on your page and I am always so amazed by the minimal amount of flour/(in this case bread crumbs) in your desserts and the result you are able to achieve – wow. Just goes to show the depth of possibilities (we don’t have to use 3 cups of processed flour in cake recipes! 😉 ). The combination of matcha and poppy seed must be simply extraordinary and it looks utterly beautiful, moist and holiday perfect. Merry Christmas Sissi!! xox

    p.s. I want to swim in your velvety ganache 🙂

    1. Dear Kelly, thank you so much for all these compliments. Reading your kind comments, I sometimes wonder if it’s about the humble food I have made 😉 I have never been a big fan of floury desserts (I still remember my mum’s favourite chocolate cake was the one where she didn’t add enough flour and considered a failure!), so maybe this is why this unusual base appeals to me so much. I always prefer moist, sticky, chewy, creamy sweet treats. Happy New Year!

  4. Happy Holidays Sissi, I hope you and your family are enjoying this festive season. And speaking of festive, that Matcha is unbelievable, it is so green. I don’t love matcha and I have to say I would have a bit of a hard time enjoying a sweet that is so richly green! I think I’ll reserve my greens for my vegetables! But you did a beautiful job and it does look incredibly festive.
    Happy New Year Sissi, I hope 2014 brings you much happiness and health!
    Eva XOXO

    1. Thank you, Eva. If you don’t like matcha, this cake is definitely not for you. Many people don’t like matcha. My husband said he would love the same colour, but obtained with pistachio nuts 😉 If I ever do it, he will have to eat the whole cake alone 😉 Happy New Year! I hope you have spent wonderful holidays.

    1. Thank you so much, Purabi. You mean a poppy seed cake with matcha ganache? I had no idea poppy seed was used in Hong Kong.

  5. Such a beautiful cake Sissi, I love the vivid green color of the matcha and I yet have to try poppy seed cake…looks delicious.
    Have a great New Year my dear 😀

  6. Matcha is one of the ingredients I promised myself to use more often next year. This cake looks so perfect and I bet it tastes just as good as it looks. Thanks for the great inspiration! Happy New Year Sissi!

  7. Been seeing so many cakes using poppy seeds these days! First that gorgeous poppy seed roll on Irina’s blog and now yours. Not complaining though. Love that flavour and they also look proper stunning, especially with the eye popping green matcha glaze. Flavours are two of my favourites, so you got me there Sissi! ps. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and happy new year Sissi. Looking forward to reading more yummy stuff from you in 2014 x

    1. Hi, Shuhan. Thank you so much for the compliments. Yes, poppy seed cakes are an old tradition in Central and Eastern Europe. I have also seen Irina’s cake, which looks particularly moist for a poppy seed roll (to be frank this cake has been a nightmare in my childhood because most people and bakeries make it very dry and “stuffy”). Poppy seed cake is good only when it’s moist. Happy New Year!

  8. Sissi, that is truly a festive, beautiful, moist, and yummy cake! Love the texture, and the matcha green color, as well!
    Happy New Year, my dear friend!

  9. Wow, that’s “green” – I wasn’t expecting the colour to come across so strongly in the ganache. Good thing to bear in mind for future baking in case my son ever decides he wants a dinosaur cake or something… I can make it a bit more gourmet with some matcha instead of just using nasty food colouring!

    It looks really moist and delicious – I remember I bought about a kilo of poppyseeds back in France because I was going to try your cake but never got around to it. I found them in a box in the freezer just before I moved… I’d used quite a lot for bread and stuff but had to throw the rest out in the end :(.

    1. Thank you, Charles. From my experience you will obtain such an amazing colour only with quite good matcha. It can be “cooking grade” matcha, but definitely not the cheapest stuff sold in Europe (which is by the way not cheap at all). I bought it only once, payed about 12 euros I think and I still remember the sweets had a pistachio colour at best, never such a green grass beautiful hue. In short, it’s worth investing in a slightly better product. I never keep poppy seeds in the fridge, not to mention freezer. They keep very well in a closed container, in a dry place.

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. Matcha is so cheap in Japan compared to here… I bought the same brand second year in a row in the same shop and I am delighted every time I use it.

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