A Cake for November: Spiced Poppy Seed Cake

Spiced Poppy Seed Cake with Almond Buttercream
Why is this the perfect cake for November? This cake is beautifully spiced, a little more substantial than a fluffy spring-time cake...if you're craving a fall cake that doesn't involve pumpkin, this is it.

My Pinterest cake board is filled with spectacular looking cakes.  I have immense respect for Amanda, and Rosie, and Heather, and Gail, and Melissa because they make them.   
My cakes, though, are not pretty.  I've decided to make peace with that fact. 

After coming to terms with this truth, I can just enjoy cakes that taste AMAZING. (That's really what counts, right?) This cake is one I'd been dreaming about as soon as I bought the book Cake Ladies. (Found on Amazon and B&N.}

Spiced Poppy Seed Cake with Almond Buttercream
It's a poppy seed cake made with warm spices, honey, and a little whole wheat flour.  The frosting is a rich, fluffy, American buttercream flavored with almond & vanilla.  {Are you swooning, yet?}

Three things:

  1. If you happen to have a friend who is a beekeeper, this cake is even more special.  Yes, I'm lucky enough to have such a friend...Amy from She Wears Many HatsIs that totally cool, or what?  I loved that the honey for this cake came from her bees!
  2. Cake Ladies...if you haven't seen this book, take a look online or next time you're out at a bookshop.  Not only is it filled with delicious tried-and-true cake recipes, but the book showcases 17 southern "cake ladies," and their stories are so wonderful. 
  3. For the moistest cake, make the cake at least a day ahead of frosting...more on this in the instructions.  Trust me. 
 Spiced Poppy Seed Cake with Almond Buttercream ♥ bakeat350.net
OK, ok...you want the recipe.  Here ya go:

Spiced Poppy Seed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting
{slightly modified from Cake Ladies}

for the cake:
1 & 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 cups milk, at room temperature
2 TBSP vinegar
1 TBSP almond extract
1/2 cup poppy seeds

for the frosting:
3 sticks (1 & 1/2 cups) salted butter, at room temperature
7 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 & 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
6 TBSP half-and-half, plus more if needed
poppy seeds for sprinkling

Make the cake:
Preheat oven to  350.  Grease three 9" round cake pans with shortening; line the bottoms with parchment.

Sift the flours, baking powder, cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom together.  Set aside.

With the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form.  Set aside.

In another bowl, use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter, sugar, and honey until light and fluffy.  On low speed, add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

In a bowl, combine the milk, vinegar, and almond extract. (Don't worry if it curdles.)

Add the dry mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk/vinegar mixture.  Mix lightly, between additions, just until combined.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl as needed.

Fold in the poppy seeds, then fold in the whipped egg whites in three additions. (Re-whip the egg whites first if they have separated.)

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until done.  Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to wire cooling racks.  Once the cakes are cool enough to handle but still warm, wrap in plastic wrap, then in foil and freeze overnight, or until you're ready to frost.

{This tip is from my friend, Gail, and guarantees a moist cake.}

The day you're going to frost the cake, take the layers out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator for several hours to defrost.

Make the frosting:
Cream the butter and powdered sugar together using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer until it forms a thick "paste." Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts, then the half-and-half.  Beat until fully combined.  Add more half-and-half as needed to get to a fluffy consistency.  Beat until fluffy and no lumps remain.

With an offset spatula, spread a heaping 1/2 cup of frosting over each cake layer, then frost the top and sides.

Spiced Poppy Seed Cake with Almond Buttercream
Sprinkle on the poppy seeds and add a little piping detail with a large star tip, if desired.

Will keep covered at room temperature for 2 days, or refrigerated for about 1 week.

*this recipe was originally shared on the blog in 2012

Who's ready for a fall CAKE?!?

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