Poppy seeds are very traditional Purim ingredient. They’re used in a variety of ways, including classic poppy seed (known as “mon”) hamantaschen, Persian nan-e berenji cookies, poppy seed noodles and poppy seed challah. In Israel, you can find different types of poppy seed cakes year-round, but especially around Purim.
This cake is Hungarian. The chocolate ganache on top adds a lot of flavor, but the cake is wonderful even without it.
Poppy seeds are available in bulk online and at most Eastern European and Middle Eastern supermarkets. Alternatively, you can buy a few jars of poppy seeds from the spice rack at any chain supermarket.
Note: Poppy seed pastries are very popular in Eastern Europe and Israel. To achieve the rich texture of the cooked poppy seed, the seeds need to be ground. The way to do it is with either an electric coffee grinder or with a blender, preferably a powerful one, such as Vitamix. As you grind the poppy seed they will become darker in color and will resemble almond flour in texture. Grind the poppy seed close to when you’re ready to cook with it, as it becomes rancid pretty quickly, especially when grounded. If you have to grind in advance, keep it in a sealed container in the freezer until you’re ready to use.
For the cake batter:
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2 oz flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 14 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
- 6 oz apple sauce
- 7 oz finely ground poppy seeds *(see note above)
For the chocolate ganache (optional):
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
- In the bowl of a mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for 10 minutes. In the meantime, mix the flour and the baking powder in a small bowl.
- Lower the speed of the mixer, beat in the butter and apple sauce until blended. Blend in the flour mixture and poppy seeds.
- Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only crumbs. Let the cake cool completely.
- For the chocolate ganache, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream and salt just to a boil. Immediately pour over the chocolate. Wait for one minute, then stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature and spread over the cake.
- Keep the cake in the refrigerator. Take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you serve.