Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Poppy Seed Torte

August 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Posted in BWJ, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 17 Comments
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poopy seed torte

Markus Farbinger’s Viennese Poppy Seed Torte is one of the more unusual things I’ve baked.  Now, I’m aware that poppy seeds are widely used in foods all over the world and are not unusual at all, but we Americans– especially those of us who are many generations and more than a couple hundred years removed from our ethnic roots– normally just mix a mere tablespoon of them into lemon muffins or white cake, or sprinkle them on top of bagels or crackers.  Maybe it’s because we’re afraid we’ll fail a drug test, but any recipe that calls for two cups of poppy seeds sounds a little strange.  The Austrians sure know their pastries though, so I knew this would be tasty, no doubt.

Those two cups of poppy seeds are whizzed up in a coffee/spice grinder, and along with cake crumbs (I used a frozen slice of leftover Vanilla Pound Cake, also put through the same coffee grinder) become the dry ingredients for the cake.  The crowning jewels on top are poached apricot halves.  I found the cutest little apricots with rosy cheeks at the Greenmarket. I didn’t bother to blanch and peel them before poaching…the skins slipped right off anyway once they cooled, and I think poaching them skin-on helped infuse the flesh with that rosy color.  I’m saving the poaching liquid, btw, which I think will be nice as a fruity simple syrup for drinks or poured on top of raspberries and vanilla ice cream.

Based on visuals alone, I’d assume a dark colored cake like this would be dense and heavy. But it’s quite light and springy (thanks to the meringue that’s folded into the batter), moist and not too sweet.  It really tastes like poppy seeds (as it should), and since they are ground into flour, they don’t get stuck in your teeth!  I made a half-recipe..a full makes a big 10-inch cake…and debated the pan size for a while before settling on a 8-inch round.

poopy seed torte

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (there’s a a video here of Chef Markus making the cake in a totally rad vest). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!


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  1. This looks amazing! One of my favorite treats are the Czech poppy seed kolaches, I certainly agree that they are under used here in the U.S.

  2. They are under used in Canada as well! When I saw this I was like WOW that must be ALL poppy seeds. It sure sounds interesting! Maybe something I will try a bit closer to fall.

  3. Oh, I love the color on your fruit!
    This has probably been one of my favorite recipes from this book so far (and I am pretty sure I have never used so many poppy seeds at one time before). I am glad you picked this one for the group!

  4. I loved your post and want to try this beautiful, unusual cake. My grandma always made me a poppy seed cake for my birthday since my birthday is December 31, and everyone is always tired of sweet sweets at that point – it was always a welcome change. Any talk of poppy seed cake brings back fond memories of her – my favorite person in the entire world – and makes my mouth water for poppy seed cake. Thanks for the beautiful photos and eloquently written post.

    • thank you so much for this lovely comment!

      • I just finished watching the entire video of Julia & Markus – LOVED it! 🙂

  5. Looks beautiful. Well done!

  6. That’s a simple beautiful cake – simple and nicely presented. A slice please!

  7. Looks really yummy…. 🙂

  8. Something about this cake is just so pleasing to look at, the colour of the fruit really pops!

  9. Stunning photo. Just beautiful. Love the look of your apricots!

  10. beautiful cake! had to sit out the last few rounds since we are in the midst of relocating to virginia-cannot wait to get back to it with everyone!

  11. The dark color of the cake and the poached apricots look striking. How did you half 7 egg whites?

    • I had one egg white in a container in the fridge already from something else, so rather than fiddle will 3.5 eggs, I used 3 eggs separated plus that extra white. If I hadn’t had the extra white, I probably would have just used 4 eggs…I often find that a little bit of extra egg doesn’t matter much and probably even makes things more moist.

  12. God, that’s gorgeous! What a contrast of colors and the texture sounds wonderful.

  13. I never would have thought of using poppy seeds for a cake, but this looks so beautiful. Of course, the apricots help a little bit, too!! 🙂


  14. So great that you had some vanilla poundcake leftover to mix in- that sounds like the perfect cake for it. Glad to hear you liked this one as everyone else did. Looking forward to making it.

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