With summer in sight, I think of my grandmother’s baking, and poppy seeds and walnuts were among her favourite ingredients, whether for nut rolls, egg breads or other sweet concoctions.
This recipe is for a typical central European-style cake – a very simple one-layer torte that leaves room for creative plating. It can be served with just a dollop of whipped cream or sweetened sour cream, or even blood orange segments and fresh raspberries for a lighter and fresher approach.
Gluten-Free Walnut Poppy Seed Cake
Makes: 1 9-inch cake
1 1/4 cups (6 oz) walnut pieces
3/4 cup poppy seeds*
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
5 eggs at room temperature, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup whipping cream
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch springform pan and sprinkle the bottom and sides with sugar, tapping out any excess.
2. Pulse the walnuts, poppy seeds and 1/3 cup of sugar in a food processor until finely ground.
3. Beat the butter and 1/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, and beat until well blended.
4. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy, then slowly pour in the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and whip until the whites hold a soft peak. Fold the whites into the butter mixture. Fold in ground nuts and poppy seeds, and continue to fold until incorporated. Spoon about 1/3 cup of this batter into the cream and then fold this into the batter. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake to room temperature and then chill it completely before removing from the pan and serving. The cake will keep for up to 3 days refrigerated.
* If you have access to ground poppy seeds from an eastern European grocery, those are preferable (and can be used in the same measure), but the recipe does work deliciously well with regular whole poppy seeds.
Professionally trained pastry chef Anna Olson is the host of Food Network Canada’s Bake with Anna Olson. Anna’s culinary philosophy is based on a common-sense approach of cooking and baking with the seasons, as well as respecting the ingredients, the technique and the process of sharing with others through food. Most of all, cooking and baking should be fun!