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Poppy Seed Desserts
By Renee Shelton

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Poppy Seed

This tasting is all about the poppy seed.

Recipes Below:

Quatre-Quart with Vanilla Poppy Glaze
Lemon Poppy Cake with
Butter Sautéed Pecan Icing
Double Chocolate Poppy Seed Torte
Honey Poppy Seed Candy

Double Chocolate Poppy Seed Torte

Poppy seeds used for baking are the tiny dried seeds that come from the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, an annual plant. These tiny seeds are dark blue to gray-blue to slate in color and kidney to round shaped. The taste of the poppy seed can be described as nutty with spicy undertones which makes it a perfect pairing for baked and pastry goods. The also give a unique crunch to baked goods.

Poppy seeds can be used whole or they can be ground or crushed. The best way to crush them is to use a mortar and pestle. Soaking them will aid in grinding. Oillette is an oil made from crushed poppy seeds and is used in culinary applications.

When flipping through ethnic pastry cook books, looking at the names can indicate if poppies are used: mohn (German), oeillette or pavot somnifre (French), papavero (Italian), and amapola (Spanish).

Here are recipes containing poppy seeds.


Lemon Poppy Cake with Butter Sautéed Pecan Icing
Try baking this cake in shaped individual molds or in a shaped silicone mold sheet; unmold and cool. Prepare icing and pour desired amount on top. Serve immediately or let icing set and put on buffet for display. Try the icing on a coconut pound cake for a decadent treat.

Lemon Poppy Cake:
1 1/2 c cake flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/3 c shortening
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c milk
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 t pure vanilla extract
2 t poppy seeds

Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt. Cream shortening and sugar together until light. Beat eggs and milk together with extracts. In mixing bowl, add in sifted ingredients alternately with the wet to the creamed shortening. Stir in the poppy seeds last and pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F until cake tests clean. Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto rack; let cool completely before pouring the icing over the top.

Butter Sautéed Pecan Icing:
2 oz. pecans, coarsely chopped
2 T whole butter, no substitutions
1/4 c heavy cream or whole evaporated milk
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c powdered sugar, sifted

In a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, sauté pecans in butter until lightly browned taking care not to over cook or burn nuts or butter. Remove from heat and stir in cream and vanilla. Add in the powdered sugar and stir until combined. Use icing before it sets.


Quarte-Quarts with Vanilla Poppy Glaze

Quatre-quarts is a French pound cake, named for traditionally adding in 'four quarters' each of eggs, butter, flour, sugar. This pound cake is dense and would be suitable for fondues and pastry displays for cubing, and has a neutral butter flavor great for adding flavorings as desired. The poppy glaze is a thin vanilla icing with a sprinkling of poppy seeds added after the icing has finished running off the cake.

3 eggs, separated
3/4 c sugar
12 T whole butter, no substitutions, soft
1 1/2 c flour

In mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is light in color. Add in the softened butter by tablespoons, then the flour. In a separate bowl, whip the whites until stiff peaks and fold into the cake batter. Transfer cake mixture into a prepared greased and floured cake pan and bake in a 350°F oven until cake tests clean. Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack; let cool completely before pouring the icing over the top.

Vanilla Poppy Icing:
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c cream or whole evaporated milk
2 t corn syrup
2 t butter
1 t vanilla
1 1/2c powdered sugar, sifted
Poppy seeds, for sprinkling

In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir sugar and cream together until dissolved. Remove from heat and add in corn syrup, butter and vanilla. Stir until butter is melted and add in the powdered sugar. When the icing has cooled to room temperature, pour over baked cake set over a rack placed over a pan or plate to collect icing drippings, and allow icing to finish running off cake. Sprinkle as desired with poppy seeds.


Double Chocolate Poppy Seed Torte (Schokoladen Mohntorte)

A Viennese specialty, this cake contains no flour, only ground poppy seeds. The torte has an unusual savory-like flavor and texture due to the ground poppies and is baked in a 9 inch springform pan which aids with the removal. The glaze is great for other desserts and tortes as well.

Poppy Seed Torte:
7 T unsalted butter
1/3 c sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cup poppy seeds, ground
2 1/2 oz. dark chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 inch springform pan.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light. Add in yolks and continue to beat until very light. Add in the ground poppy seeds and melted chocolate and mix until incorporated. Beat the whites until firm peaks, and gently fold into the chocolate mixture in thirds, and transfer to the prepared springform pan. Bake until cake tests done in center, but do not overbake. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove springform sides, and glaze torte.

Chocolate Glaze:
3 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 oz. unsalted butter
1 oz. water, warm
2 t corn syrup
1/2 t vanilla

In a bowl set over simmering water, stir chocolate, butter and corn syrup. Stir chocolate mixture just until the chocolate is almost melted, remove from bowl from heat source and continue to stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Add in the warmed water and vanilla; stir until combined. Let cool until room temperature and pour over the top of the completely cooled torte.


Honey Poppy Candy
This candy also goes by the name 'Makagigi' or 'Mohnelech' or similar names, and recipes can have different proportions of honey and sugar or only honey, and some have the addition of chopped nuts. Some recipes call for shaping and some for spreading flat. Be watchful when cooking: removing it too soon from the heat will leave it too soft and will stick terribly to your teeth and cooking it too long will burn the candy. The candy on the right was poured on a silpat and spread thin with an offset spatula. Serve on its own or with a dessert that contains poppy seeds or honey as an accompaniment or garnish.

1/2 c sugar
3/4 c honey
1 c poppy seeds

Combine ingredients in a heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan. While stirring, cook over medium low heat until the candy is lightly browned, 20 to 30 minutes depending on amount of heat used for cooking. Cooking it longer will make a more brittle candy and removing it sooner will make it more chewy. Remove from heat and pour over a silicone baking sheet and spread with an offset metal spatula until thin. If you're worried about cutting your silicone sheet, pour over a sheet of parchment paper and spread thin. Allow to cool until it is firm, and cut into desired pieces. Store in an airtight container and use within a week.

Pictures Copyright © 2007 Renee Shelton.

Copyright © 2004-2010 Renee Shelton.
All Rights Reserved.


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