State Fair Winning Poppy Seed Cake


I know it doesn’t look like much, but looks are often deceiving. 

I have been craving a little snack cake.  You know, one of those desserts you curl up with in the afternoon over a cup of coffee and a good read. 

I went searching in my files for something to satisfy my craving for a quick, easy dessert.  I came upon this recipe I clipped out of the Los Angeles Times possibly ten years ago.  I thought it was about time I made it.

This Poppy Seed Cake was a two-top prize winning recipe at the Iowa State Fair (not sure what year) and it’s delicious.  Just perfect. 

The cake is moist, airy and totally enjoyable to eat.  It doesn’t even need frosting, just sprinkle with powdered sugar and it’s ready to devour.

While this is the perfect little snack cake, I can guarantee company wouldn’t mind if you served it for dessert.

The recipe specifically mentioned to use cake flour only as the use of all-purpose flour results in a heavy, gummy texture.  Don’t forget.

In a medium sized bowl sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add poppy seeds and set aside.

Beat butter with an electric mixer for about one minute.  Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and airy; about 2 more minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add 1 egg at a time to butter-sugar mixture, beating well after each until batter is smooth.  Add lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well.

Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk (i.e. start with dry and end with dry) scraping down sides with rubber spatula after each addition.  Do not over mix or you will have a tough cake.

Grease bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch cake pan (use butter and flour, shortening and flour or baking spray).  Pour batter into prepared cake pan and use a spatula to spread batter evenly in pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 27-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

It’s perfect for Fall afternoons.

Poppy Seed Cake
Adapted from the Los Angeles Times

2-2/3 cups cake flour (do not substitute)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1-1/2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1-2/3 cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
Zest of one lemon
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
(I did not use lowfat & I let it warm up a bit with the eggs and butter before using)

In a medium sized bowl sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add poppy seeds and set aside.

Beat butter with an electric mixer for about one minute.  Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and airy; about 2 more minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add 1 egg at a time to butter-sugar mixture, beating well after each until batter is smooth.  Add lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well.

Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk (i.e. start with dry and end with dry) scraping down sides with rubber spatula after each addition.  Do not over mix or you will have a tough cake.

Grease bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch cake pan (use butter and flour, shortening and flour or baking spray).  Pour batter into prepared cake pan and use a spatula to spread batter evenly in pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 27-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

One Year Ago:  High Priced Moo-ver

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51 Comments and 3 Replies

  1. deeba 1

    Almost time for tea here, & I can feel a craving creeping up on me. I love cakes that don’t need to be frosted. Yes, this does look like the perfect snack cake. B’milk within must add to its lightness. Oh YUM, this is just my kinda cake Cathy!!

    Reply
  2. nina 2

    I love poppy seed cake and you’re right if made right, it needs no frosting, just a cuppa tea!!!!

    Reply
  3. This looks delicious and love the powdered sugar finish. I don’t like frosting and will actually take it off a piece of cake before I eat it. This sounds right up my alley. Nice pictures! love the dark background. Lea Ann

    Reply
  4. I love poppy seed cake! This recipe looks delicious. Another one to bookmark and make!

    Reply
  5. This recipe is most certainly getting bookmarked!
    I have just rediscovered a poppyseed cake recipe my mom used to make. It is made with a can of (Solo) poppy seed filling and sour cream – it was delicious!
    Question: Is it OK for toddlers to eat baked goods with seeds?

    Reply
  6. And serve with a side of dental floss;)

    Reply
  7. Not long ago, I found a recipe similar to this and wanted to try it. I haven’t yet. Hopefully I won’t wait ten years to try it or this one.

    Reply
  8. I want to make this so badly but alas, the twins have made me promise not to make ANYTHING with poppy seeds before they leave for Basic as they have two more random drug tests before they leave.

    But the minute they’re out the door…the cake goes in the oven! Good thing I just bought a case of dental floss!

    Um yeah, we go through dental floss around here like no ones business!

    Reply
  9. dawn 9

    I love cakes like these. This looks like a good recipe using buttermilk. Love it.

    Reply
  10. Trisha 10

    To curl up with this snack cake and a good book – heaven! Just make sure you don’t have a drug test in the morning.

    Reply
  11. Fairs are often an excellent source for time-honoured recipes.Entrants deliver their best!!!

    Reply
  12. grace 12

    poppy seeds give such a lovely appearance to cakes and breads and muffins, and i have no doubt that this is a tasty little cake. it looks feather soft and just scrumptious!

    Reply
  13. Marjie 13

    I agree; you don’t want a heavy frosted cake for afternoon snack. This looks like a winner!

    Reply
  14. dawn 14

    that shot of the poppyseeds in the batter is so cool! (I know I sound like a kid, but really).
    Perfect with afternoon coffee.

    Reply
  15. Oh, my stomach is growling! I just cut back on carbs…and I want to crawl into my monitor and devour this! I’d better not make it anytime too soon…but I will make it!

    Reply
  16. Pam 16

    Sometimes simple recipes are the best. I love that it doesn’t have a heavy frosting…just moist and delicious cake.

    Reply
  17. Ramona 17

    I love the way it looks.

    Ramona

    Reply
  18. Candice 18

    Yum, looks like it makes a great breakfast too! I’m enjoying following your move. Looks like a lovely new place to live :-)

    Reply
  19. imom 19

    That looks so good and easy! My scrapbooking ladies would love it.

    Reply
  20. It’s the buttermilk that makes the cake look so soft and fluffy!

    Reply
  21. Lisa Sipple 21

    Making it today. Enough said.

    Reply
  22. Barbara 22

    I’ve never made a poppy seed cake! This one looks wonderful. Am printing out the recipe right now!

    Reply
  23. This cake is so simple… the best kind! Would you be able to switch the poppy seeds with something else? Or would that change the consistency?

    Reply
  24. Katrina 24

    I had a roommate back in college who used to make a killer poppy seed bread that was just drenched in butter and glaze. It was good, but I like that this is more simple–BIGGER and not quite so “bad”. Mmmm!

    Reply
  25. KAYOLA 25

    We use to make those almond poppy seed muffins by the dozens and I can’t find the mix anymore….I am going to have to try this…it looks so de-lish….hugs

    Reply
  26. That does look like a winner of a snack cake! I love poppy seeds too.

    Reply
  27. Paula 27

    Hey, you should enter this in the OREGON state fair next year! LOVE the Oregon State Fair. Wouldn’t it be fun to be a judge at the fair? Pressure for sure, but fun, too! I suspect I would love this cake. I really like how this is topped with powdered sugar. YUM!

    Reply
  28. KathyB. 28

    Boy, I tell you, if a recipe is a State Fair winner, then it is most definitely a good recipe! Having been involved in helping at, participating at, and judging at fairs for more than 2 decades, any recipe that is a winner at a State Fair has been judged more critically and strictly than any opinions and comments a Food Network show judge could ever dish out.So this has to be every bit as good as you say it is! Looks like another recipe I have to print up and try out!

    Reply
  29. Lydia 29

    Lemon and poppy seed is such a classic combination. I think there was a great Silver Palate recipe similar to this one, but I can’t quite remember. Nice to have a “little” cake like this in your repertoire.

    Reply
  30. Maybe I should give poppy seeds another try…..

    Reply
  31. Marcy 31

    oooh I love Poppyseed muffins, so this cake looks downright yummy! Have to file it away again for my baking time!

    Reply
  32. Kate 32

    I need to make this for my husband. He would love it!

    Reply
  33. sharon 33

    Bookmarked! Would you consider this a lemon poppy seed cake or is the lemony flavor pretty mild?

    I have so many clipped recipes…some are from college and remain unmade!

    Reply
  34. megan 34

    I love poppy seeds and this looks lovely. My daughter would love this too. Bookmarked!

    Reply
  35. Mary 35

    This looks wonderful. I had a cake like this years ago that came from Farm Journal. I don’t know why I stopped making it. It was luscious as, I’m sure, yours is.

    Reply
  36. Julie 36

    Mmm…it really does look delicious! How about a big pat of butter right on top while it’s still warm…oh yeah!

    Reply
  37. Melynda 37

    This does look good, Yum. Strong coffee with milk and a slice of this cake, what a nice relaxing afternoon.

    Reply
  38. I think it looks great and I just saw some info on converting a recipe that used cake flour to gluten free. Timely. Poppy seed cake and a nice cup of tea sounds really good right now!

    Shirley

    Reply
  39. Yum, yum, yum!

    Reply
  40. Muneeba 40

    I love the crunch of poppy seeds in a soft pillowy cake … looks perfect for that scenario you described of curling up on the couch with a good read!

    Reply
  41. Oh my, the hubster would love this one. Bookmarked!!

    Reply
  42. sunrise 42

    I want to make this so badly but alas, the twins have made me promise not to make ANYTHING with poppy seeds before they leave for Basic as they have two more random drug tests before they leave.

    But the minute they’re out the door…the cake goes in the oven! Good thing I just bought a case of dental floss!

    Reply
  43. These are really basic instructions…but still important.really its very useful and informative.its good tips and easy steps. so thanks for nice post.

    Reply
  44. I was searching on the web for the same thing, found..but couldn’t figure out how to run..I did have problems with this so plz solve my problem..

    Reply
  45. The food and green groceries sold in farmers’ markets may also fall into this category, including the food exhibited and sold in gathering fairs, such as agricultural show and state fair. Most street food is finger. Food and green groceries are available on the street for a fraction of the cost of a restaurant meal and a supermarket.

    Reply
  46. nice articles,thank you

    Reply
  47. Although the lemon cake was highly reviewed here, I found it a bit strong. The strawberry cake was AMAZING, and more to my liking. It had a fluffy texture that contrasted nicely with the crust, and great flavor as well. I tried the award winning chili which was better than some vegetarian chilis that I have had. However it did seem a bit rich, and I wouldn’t want to eat a lot of it at once. Except for the onions, the portobello sandwich was delicious, and I was surprised that the bread was actually…bread, and certainly fresher tasting than some sprouted breads that I’ve gotten from the store.

    Reply
  48. Maryam 48

    I made this cake, followed the recipe exactly except that instead of 1 and 1/2 Tbs of poppy seeds I used just 1 because I don’t like it when the cake gets too crunchy. I made this for a family weekend gathering and just a few hours later more than half of the cake was gone. My cousins loved it, said it reminded them of a cake they got from a bakery back in the 80’s, they don’t make them like that no more! people were slicing and packing it up for the next morning! The taste is simple but really delicious.

    Reply
  49. Sally 49

    I wanted so badly to make a lemon poppyseed cake. Picked this recipe. I have been baking more years than I care to mention. As I was alternating buttermilk and flour mixture I realized it was getting way too thick. I left out at least a 1/3 cup of flour and added a couple teaspoons of lemon juice to thin it out some. It baked perfectly. However, it took an hour to bake at 350 degrees. Haven’t tried it yet but the batter tasted awesome and the finished product looks great.

    Reply
  50. This cake recipe did not work out at all. Not sure what I did wrong, followed all intructions. It was flat and gooey on the bottom.

    Reply
  51. Lani 53

    This lemon poppy seed cake is delightful. My family loves it and so does anyone who tastes it. Thank you so much for such a terrific recipe. One of my go to favorites especially with a light cream cheese lemon zest frosting :)

    Reply

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