Bake Club: Poppy Seed Almond Cake

I remember my grandma always having a bundt cake on hand to serve when we came for a visit. The visit was called ‘coffee’. I never drank coffee but I always had the cake. My grandma was a good baker. I mentioned before that I received a couple of cookbooks for Christmas. I spent so many weekends trying out Duchess, I had neglected Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz. She is the phenom who stared in the Bon Appetit series Gourmet Makes where she would try some food and recreate it, things like Doritos or Skittles. Nine times out of ten she nailed it or improved upon it (according to her test kitchen colleagues. Where she really excelled was with pastries and desserts. That is what her cookbook is all about.

I read this book from start to finish and I think she has weird ingredients. Spelt and miso in baked goods are not things I have on hand in my pantry. I need to plan ahead when I decide to make something of hers. What I do like is the companion videos that go with some of her recipes. She has her own series produced by her publishing house Penguin. I have watched every video she has released so far. Including the satire video by Novympia. Hilarious because Saffitz isn’t the most cheerful person and she complains a lot. The best part is her being surprised by the instructions in her cookbook. All very funny and on brand.

I chose Poppy Seed Almond Cake as my first foray into Dessert Person. I watch the video here before I read the recipe and began baking it. My first thought was “this recipe is backwards”. Normally you would cream the sugar, eggs, butter and flavourings together first. Then add milk and four in stages. This recipe you combine all the dry in the stand mixer then add all the wet all at once. It is a very easy and forgiving cake.

Flour, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt all wen in first. I weighed everything because American measurements are slightly different from Canadian measurements and I wanted this to be accurate. It’s been a hot minute before I have used poppy seeds and almond flavoring, so those were the new purchases for this bake.

Then I added the milk, oil, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts.

I didn’t even have to break up the eggs before I added it to the bowl. I was highly skeptical. Then I mixed it on medium high for 2 minutes (set the timer).

It was about the consistency of pancake batter. I poured it into a prepared bundt pan. I used Pam and then floured it. But I don’t think it needed to be floured. I have a non-stick pan and Pam does a great job. Flouring the pan left flour clumps on the finished cake. So proceed with caution.

It baked for a long time, 90 minutes. When I pulled it out, there was a crack on the top (normal) and a nice brown crust (also normal). My cake tester came out clean.

Leave the cake in the pan for about 15 minutes. This is an important step. The steam in the cake needs to release to improve the structure of the cake. The pan will support it while this happens. Pop it out too soon and your cake will break or crack. After 15 minutes turn out on a wire rack over a lined baking sheet. This will catch the crumbs and the glaze drips.

The glaze was simple. Using the whisk attachment for the stand mixer I combined melted butter (weird), orange juice, icing sugar, vanilla and almond extracts. I poked holes all over the cake so it would absorb the glaze. Then I used a pastry brush to apply the glaze. It took and absorbed about five coats. I used all the glaze and you can scoop up the stuff from the bottom of the pan that drips off. I didn’t I was sticky enough.

I let it completely cool because in the video Claire and her mom talk about the odd dense section of the cake and Claire and her mom surmised it was from not letting the cake cool enough before cutting. I had let it cool 2 hours before we cut into it and I still got that strange dense section. It doesn’t affect the taste but it gives an appearance of an under baked cake. My advice is to let the cake sit overnight.

My daughter wanted you to know her review: It was good.

*Edmonton Tourist’s Note: I have made three more since this day. I have been baking treats for my parents lately because mom isn’t up to it and treats are nice. They both said it was the best cake they ever had – and it was Dad’s mom who was the famous grandma in this story – so that is high praise. I did let the cake sit over night and two things happened. It tasted better and there wasn’t that weird ‘under baked’ section of the cake. I also tried it in two loaf pans. This was smart. I froze one and ate one. It baked a little better in the loaf pan and I didn’t get the flour residue. Today I am trying orange blossom instead of almond – because dad want more.

So there you have it. It is one of those old timey cakes that grandmas used to serve for ‘coffee’. It was good – very moist and tender. One of the easiest cakes I have ever made not from a box. I will put the ingredients below because she shares them on her video.


  • 2 1/3 cups or 465g granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp or 17g poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp or 6g baking powder
  • 1 tsp or 3g kosher salt
  • 3 cups or 390g AP flour
  • 1 1/2 cups or 360g of whole milk
  • 1 1/3 cup or 288g of neutral oil (I used canola)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp of almond extract


  • 3/4 cup or 90g of powder sugar
  • 1/4 cup or 57g orange juice
  • 2 tsp melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

The Birthday Snapshot

The family went to my sister’s home for cake. Her fiance had kindly invited the family, arranged the party. Mom made the cakes. Sister is the cake maker in the family but it is wrong to make your own birthday cake. Not sure why, but it just is.

August 2011 008_crop

My brother, for various reasons is sometimes at family events and sometimes not. He came today. My baby brother who is 43. It was good to see him.

He walked in, said hi to my sister.  Mom said she told him it was her Wedding Day so he felt he should come. He sat down on the steps and we all laughed because we will celebrate her wedding in August.

Then my sister looked at him and said, “You come to my Wedding and you dressed like THAT?”

He had on jeans and a hoodie.

I laughed because no matter how old we get, 45, 43 and 38, we always talk to each other like we are 16, 14 and 8.

It’s great having siblings. I recommend it.

Happy Birthday Sista – Love ya!



Hey! My Mom is a Gazillion!

Hey! It’s my Mom’s Birthday!

Happy Birthday Mom!Don’t ask me how old she is, I think she is a gazillion. Don’t be giving me THAT look! This is what she tells people so they say to her “You look FABULOUS for a Gazillion! How do you do it?” She twitters back all flattered and replies, “oh stop…it’s just good genes.” It’s true, her mom and sister look fabulous too.

I had my parents over for dinner on Saturday night to celebrate mom’s Gazillonth birthday. I made Thai Chicken and Birthday Cup Cakes. Why thank you! I am her favorite daughter…how did you know?

I often brag about my baking skills because, who are we kidding, I am an awesome baker! Except I have a tiny confession. I have never made Cup Cakes from scratch. I have made them from a mix, I make cookies and squares from scratch, heck, I have even baked a cake or 3000 from scratch. But never cup cakes.

I figured this would be a great thing to add to my 52 new things list so away I went.

I googled a cup cake recipe that required cake and pastry flour. Again something I have never used. I mix all the ingredients and the batter is thick like cookie dough….WARNING WARNING! I am not green enough to think this is okay. I know cake batter should be runny, not stiff. I rechecked the ingredients and everything was correct. Hmmmm now I’m worried.

I decided I would leave the batter as is and continue to follow the directions. All bakers know that baking is kitchen science, so messing with amounts usually – not always…no hate mail please – can create an odd result.

I did add my own flair to the tiny cakes. I stuffed each cake with a tiny Lindor chocolate.While these were baking and cooling, I made the butter cream icing.

Now, you can ask ANY woman whats in her freezer. Any gal worth her salt will have a tub of icing, cookie dough or ice cream in her freezer. The best gals have all three. Sadly…since I have got on this new Lifestyle kick…I have none of the above. Well that is not entirely true, I keep the Boy’s favorite ice cream in there. He is almost 16 and truthfully, the container is almost ALWAYS empty…so that doesn’t count.

I was the girl who Loooooooooooooved icing. Any flavour, any brand but have a weakness for homemade icing. It is simple to make. Butter (the real stuff) Icing sugar, vanilla and milk or cream. Yum yum yum…or so I thought…

Something very concerning has happened to me. I am quite worried actually. I licked the beater and ewwwwwwwwwwww.

All I could taste was butter. It was the actual correct taste, but to me it was just butter. Then I thought “Gross, butter and sugar. Who thought THAT was a good idea?” Good right?

Then I iced the cupcakes.

I made the mistake of inviting my sister over for cake. She is the Cake Baker extraordinaire. I want to hate her, I really do. But…she is to nice and too fabulous. I just can’t.

As with my entire family, everyone was really supportive. “Oh Robyn this is soooooo gooood” Are you kidding me? You big fat liars! The cake is DRY and the icing tastes like butter. This thing is disgusting! The only redeeming feature was the chocolate nestled inside.


My brother did nothing, I win again!

Happy Birthday Mom!