Utterly delicious orange poppyseed cake feature image

Utterly delicious orange poppyseed cake

You simply can’t go wrong with this utterly delicious orange poppyseed cake.

It’s moist, full of citrus flavour, generously dotted with poppyseeds and finished off with an orange syrup. As the syrup absorbs into the cake, the flavour intensifies, so make it the day before for maximum flavour impact.

Serve it any time – for morning or afternoon tea or even still just warm as a dessert. Plop a dollop of whipped cream on the side and you have the definition of all that’s good in the world.

Post Update – I’ve replaced the recipe image in the card below with a more recent version of the cake. Made in a bundt pan and with a syrup from blood oranges, this was a lovely variation from the standard round tin.

Click here to jump below below the recipe for more info on this cake and how it became part of my repertoire of delicious, timeless recipes.

Delicious Orange Poppyseed Cake

Delicious Orange Poppyseed Cake

Recipe by Marti

Full of flavour, moist and soft. This is the perfect cake for afternoon tea, dessert or any time.

Course: Afternoon tea, Morning tea, DessertDifficulty: Easy
5 from 1 vote


delicious slices
Prep time


Cooking time


Clever Cooking

Click for the screen to stay active while you cook

You will need

  • For the cake
  • 250 g 250 butter, softened*

  • 1 3/4 cups 1 3/4 plain (all purpose) flour

  • 1 cup 1 white/granulated sugar

  • 1 tsp 1 baking powder

  • 1 tsp 1 bicarb soda (aka baking soda)

  • 3 3 free range eggs

  • 1 cup 1 sour cream

  • 100 grams 100 poppyseeds

  • Grated rind 1 orange

  • For the syrup
  • 2 2 oranges

  • 1 1 Lemon

  • 3/4 cup 3/4 white/granulated sugar

Here’s what to do

  • Preheat your oven to 160C/320F.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg yolks one by one and mix through.
  • Beat in the sour cream and lastly, the finely grated orange rind.
  • When all ingredients are mixed through, turn the mixer off and add half the sifted flour, baking powder and soda. Gently fold this into the egg/sugar, then add remaining flour mix and fold through until there are no visible flour lumps.
  • Beat the egg whites until firm peaks form and then gently fold through the cake.
  • Lastly, add the poppyseeds and fold through so they’re evenly mixed in.
  • Tip into a prepared XXX CM cake tin and place into preheated oven for 45 minutes-1 hour. The cake will be coming away from the sides when cooked and a skewer will come out clean.
  • While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup (see below for instructions).
  • Stand the cake for 10 minutes before turning out onto a plate that’s large enough for the syrup not to overflow when poured. Pour the syrup over warm cake before serving, warm or cold.
  • Make the syrup
  • Place all ingredients into a saucepan.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer gently 3-5 minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • To serve
  • Best served fresh with a generous dollop of double or whipped cream.

Tips and tricks

  • You can use salted butter if you like, or unsalted butter and add a pinch of sea salt to balance the sugar
  • Try to use organic, unwaxed oranges if you can. If you can’t, then scrub the peels well.
  • The recipe image is baked in a bundt tin and the syrup made with blood oranges, so it has a pretty pink hue. Why not try that out? You could prepare a glaze for the cake and drizzle over for added effect.

The story of my utterly delicious orange poppyseed cake

In 1988 I’d just finished studying Drama at university and had moved back to Hobart. As a single parent, I enjoyed sharing with others and we had moved into a share house with an art student and men’s health counsellor, both from Sydney. I really can’t recall how we all met and came to be living in the same house, but it mostly worked.

Image of stovetop coffee
Photo by Eric BARBEAU on Unsplash

The art student was a bit of a food and coffee snob and it’s something I’m ever grateful for. She was quite a character and I recall actually buying my first ever six pack of beer with her.

She bought countless hours of entertainment to the house. I recall one day, she set a paper light shade on fire while it was still hanging up! She really disliked paper light shades that much. Thinking back, it was very reckless. But that’s 20-somethings for you.

Her influence is also the reason I’ve not had had a cup of instant coffee since 1988 – it was all but banned in our house. Stovetop espresso only, thank you very much.

By the time I moved to Melbourne in 1991, I was well and truly entrenched as a real coffee only drinker and have never looked back.

Especially when accompanied by a piece of damn good cake. And you can’t get much better than this utterly, utterly delicious orange poppyseed cake!

Writing down the recipe

More than anything, my art student housemate is who introduced me to this fabulous recipe. It was so damn good, I copied it down in my own recipe book. Yes folks, a paper-and-pen recipe book. It was the late ’80s, the concept of home computers was still borderline science fiction back then!

Regardless, this recipe became part of my timeless recipe collection from that day forward, although the original called for way more poppyseeds that made it so dense it was almost black. I’ve experimented with different amounts and think the current version is perfect.

Are poppyseeds good for you?

Utterly delicious orange poppyseed cake mixed up
Orange Poppyseed cake, mixed and ready for the pan

Poppyseeds are a good source of manganese, Omega 6 fatty acids, which help with managing cholesterol. They also good for providing calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc.

If you’re interested in reading more about these little wonder seeds, I found a great source of info through the Dr Axe website, titled Poppy Seeds: Healthy, Beneficial Food or Dangerous Opiate?

And just to note, although poppyseeds do contain tiny amounts of opiates, they are not illegal to buy in Australia where I live. If they were, I definitely wouldn’t be sharing a recipe that contains them. Put simply, from research I’ve done over the years, eating a slice of cake with poppyseeds won’t get you high.

When to serve Orange Poppyseed Cake

I love making it for afternoon teas and it works really well accompanied by my wonderfully delicate, also lightly citrusy Alfajores. Together on a table, they’re perfection, with all gentle sweetness you’ll need.

But see for yourself, my friends, and try this recipe.

Did you make this cake?

Make sure to rate this recipe, tag me on socials and leave a comment below.


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