This Tangerine Poppy Seed Cake is love at first bite. It’s moist and citrusy with a light crunchy texture. And best of all, this cake actually tastes like fresh tangerine!
If you’re looking for a truly delicious and unique cake recipe, this Tangerine Poppy Seed Cake is a must-try. Not only is it quick and easy to make, but it’s bursting with fresh orange flavor and a hint of nuttiness from the poppy seeds. This is a great recipe for taking advantage of the winter citrus season.
ingredients for tangerine poppy seed cake
- poppy seeds
- we’ll soak the poppy seeds in warm milk to soften them, and bring out their flavor.
- both granulated and confectioner’s
- orange juice and zest
- almond extract
- vanilla would be the more obvious choice, but I found almond extract
- baking powder
- orange extract or oil
baking with poppy seeds
Many world cuisines bake with poppy seeds, but particularly Central and Eastern European, including German, Polish, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Russian, Slovak, and Czech. These cuisines typically bake sweet or savory pastries like poppy seed cake, poppy seed cookies, and poppy seed rolls. What sets these traditional poppy seed baked goods apart from the ones we bake here in the US is the sheer amount of seeds used ~ today I’m borrowing from that tradition; my cake uses a full cup!
Soaking poppy seeds in milk can bring out the natural sweetness of the seeds, as well as soften the crunchy texture. Soaking in milk makes the seeds more easily digestible, and also helps to release their natural oils, which adds an extra burst of flavor to recipes. Additionally, the process helps the body to better absorb the vitamins, minerals, and protein found in the poppy seeds.
can you taste the poppy seeds in this tangerine cake?
When you have this many poppy seeds in a recipe, flavor is an issue ~ and poppy seeds do actually have a flavor. They’ve been called nutty, earthy, peppery, and slightly bitter. For me it’s mostly about that lovely crunch.
can poppy seeds make you high?
No, poppy seeds do not make you high. Although poppy seeds do come from the poppy plant, the levels of psychoactive chemicals found in poppy seeds are too low to have any effect. Poppy seeds can, however make you fail a drug test as they contain trace amounts of opium, which may produce a false positive result. Therefore, it is advised that you avoid eating poppy seeds before undergoing a drug test.
tangerine sugar boosts the citrus flavor
I love to make citrus sugars with lemons and oranges, and here I make tangerine sugar with the zest of a tangerine and the cup of sugar in the cake recipe. Processing them together in a food processor makes a bright fragrant citrus sugar that infuses the whole cake.
Orange extract is a fabulous little extra to have in your pantry. It’s a concentrated liquid flavoring extract made from the peel of an orange, usually obtained by cold pressing. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, from desserts to marinades and dressings, and a good orange extract will give a burst of orange flavor. It’s optional in this tangerine cake, but if you love citrus flavor it’s a good thing to have around.
which way is up with this tangerine poppy seed bundt cake?
You have two choices when turning out bundt cakes: you can flip the baked cake out of its pan and have the smooth side facing up, or you can flip it over again and leave the craggy side up. I do it both ways, depending on the cake and the look I’m going for. In this case I want the surface of the cake to capture as much of that zingy orange glaze as possible, so I went with the nooks and crannies up 🙂
The orange glaze that I added on top is simply powdered sugar and freshly squeezed tangerine juice ~ it accentuates the citrus flavor and adds a nice pop of sweetness to every bite.
useful tips for making tangerine poppy seed cake
Non-stick bundt pans (like milk, mascara, and those jeans from college,) have a life span. Don’t wait for the inevitable to happen, replace yours while you still can. Less detail is often a good thing in a bundt pan when you want it to release cleanly.
Spray or butter and flour your pan, making sure to get in every nook and cranny.
Let the cake cool for 10 minutes out of the oven, then loosen all the edges with a thin offset spatula before turning out.
Be sure to let your cake cool before adding a glaze, or it will soak right into the warm surface of the cake.
Do not slice your cake until just before serving to avoid drying it out.
more citrus cakes
Tangerine Poppy Seed Cake
- standard 12 cup nonstick bundt pan
- 1 cup poppy seeds
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- zest of 1 tangerine, peeled with a serrated vegetable peeler (just the orange part, try to avoid the white pith, which is bitter.)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1/4 tsp orange extract, optional
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 Tbsp tangerine juice
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
- 4 Tbsp tangerine juice
- poppy seeds
- tangerine zest
- set oven to 350F
- Spray and flour a bundt pan (or a tube pan with a removable bottom)
- Heat the poppy seeds and the milk in a saucepan until warmed and set aside.
- Make the tangerine sugar in a food processor: process the sugar and the zest of one tangerine together until the sugar is fragrant and pale orange. If you don't have a processor just finely grate the zest and mix with the sugar.
- Cream the butter with the tangerine sugar and extracts until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Scrape down that bowl!
- Whisk together the flour and baking powder.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with the poppy seed milk, beginning and ending with the dry. Beat just until blended with each addition, don't over beat.
- Blend in the tangerine juice.
- Turn the batter into your prepared pan and smooth out the surface. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until risen and just turnning golden on top. A toothpick inserted near the center will come out without wet batter on it (moist crumbs are fine.)
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then loosen around all the edges and invert onto a cooling rack.
- To make the glaze, add just enough of the tangerine juice to the sugar to make a fairly thick glaze.
- When the cake is cool, go to town with the glaze. Garnish with a sprinkle of poppy seeds and tangerine zest.