Rhubarb and Poppy Seed Cake

, from Issue #50. November, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Rhubarb and Poppy Seed Cake

This scrumptious cake is layered with a mix of sour cream, yoghurt and lightly spiced rhubarb – great for morning tea or dessert.


3 tablespoons black poppy seeds
4 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
finely grated zest 1 lemon and 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
200 grams butter, melted and cooled

6 slim stalks red rhubarb
1/3 cup caster sugar
¼ teaspoon ground star anise
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange
liqueur, optional

To assemble
250 grams sour cream
250 grams thick plain yoghurt

2 x 20 cm cake tins, greased and bases lined with a circle of baking paper


Preheat the oven to 170˚C.

Put the poppy seeds in a dry sauté pan over a medium heat and toast for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Tip into a bowl.

Beat the eggs, caster sugar, both zests and the vanilla until very thick and pale. Combine the flour, baking powder and 2 tablespoons of the poppy seeds. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the dry ingredients and the melted butter in two batches. Try and keep as much air in the batter as possible.

Divide the batter evenly between the tins.

Bake for about 15 minutes until golden and just firm to the touch. Don’t over bake or the cakes will be dry. Cool in the tins then turn out and remove the baking paper.

Rhubarb: Cut the rhubarb into 4 cm lengths and place in a single layer in a roasting dish. Combine the sugar and star anise and sprinkle over the rhubarb then the orange juice. Cover and bake for about 15 minutes until tender but still holding its shape. Cool until just warm then remove the rhubarb to a shallow dish. Tip the syrup into a small bowl and add the liqueur if using.

To assemble: Whisk the sour cream until smooth, then whisk in the yoghurt.

Brush the smooth side of each cake with the syrup. Place one cake, smooth side up on a serving plate and spread with half the cream and half the fruit. Top with the second cake, syrup side down. Spread over the remaining cream and fruit and sprinkle with the poppy seeds. Makes 1 cake