Mum’s Poppy Seed Cake

Today, as every first weekend of May  is Mother’s Day in Lithuania. One of the most beautiful times in the year, when (if weather is cooperating) the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, sweetness lingers in the air and each passing day grows warmer.

I have plotted and schemed for months to be in Lithuania today, to prepare something special, memorable and sweet, but alas, not all plans go as expected and this year we’ve got strayed in Netherlands again.

Still, as Mother’s day is such a special occasion this calls for a cake, even a virtual one.

My mum’s poppy seed cake, to be precise. In Lithuanian we call it “pukelis” meaning feather light, and that what this cake is: subtle, elegant and relatively light.

I have the fondest memories of running into the kitchen when mum would take the cake out of the oven, breathing in the sweetest aroma and begging for bite of still warm cake.

When the cake would survive the tasting it would be layered with thick cream till it would become a truly heavenly creation.

We haven’t baked this cake in years and when during my last visit home I was browsing through family recipe book, it immediately caught my eye, but I’ve waited for a special occasion such as this to make it.

I’ve stayed true to the basis of the cake as mum used to make, but as we can feel a little childish on Mother’s day and with childhood wonderland theme in mind I took a few liberties for the filling of the cake.

It started with rich mascarpone cream, spiked with vanilla. Wonderful as it was, it just wasn’t enough, so I’ve added lemon curd. Not a just a touch of curd,  plenty of it to make a perfect child’s dream cake: where airy layers can no longer contain the volumes of cream and lemon curd is dripping all over sides, when you can secretly dip and taste those sides away.

Happy mother’s day mum, this one is for you!

Recipe notes:

the recipe would  obviously 2 layers of cake, but I’ve had one remaining from previous test and added to the pile.

You can simply bake the cake in one tin and cut it in half afterwards.

You can also make the 3rd or 4th layer by adding another half of batter or doubling the batter recipe, and adding just a little more cream to mascarpone.

You’ll have some remaining lemon curd, but is will go wonderfully for extras on the side.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Poppy Seed Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Rich and indulgent cake with layers of mascarpone cream and lemon curd for any occasion
Recipe type: baked sweets
Cuisine: Lithuanian
Serves: 6-8
Poppy seed cake
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 140 grams flour (1 cup minus 4 tablespoons)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • pinch of salt
Vanilla mascarpone cream
  • 250 grams mascarpone
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
  • 200 ml/2/3 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons powder sugar
Lemon curd
  • 60 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 130g sugar,
  • 2 lemons zest
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 60g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 300 grams, strawberries to decorate
  • powder sugar
  1. Heat the oven to 180C/356F
  2. Generously butter 2 cake tins and set aside.
  3. For poppy seed cake, beat the eggs yolks until pale and creamy.
  4. Stir in condensed milk.
  5. Add baking powder to flour and sift both into the batter. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Stir in vanilla extract and poppy seeds.
  7. Beat the egg whites with salt till stiff peaks.
  8. Fold in gently the egg whites into the batter, adding ⅓ of the egg whites at a time.
  9. Divide between two tins and bake for 20-30 minutes, until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
  10. Let the cake cool completely before icing.
For mascarpone cream
  1. Beat mascarpone with scraped vanilla seeds and sugar till creamy.
  2. Start pouring in cream slowly and beat till thick.
  3. Set aside.
For the lemon curd
  1. Beat the eggs, sugar, salt and zest till becomes pale and creamy.
  2. Stir in the lemon juice and beat again.
  3. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring all the time till curd starts coating the back of the wooden spoon and starts thickening. This will take about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the bowl from the water and quickly stir in the butter.
  5. Cover with cling film touching the curd itself to prevent skin from forming, chill and set aside till needed.
  6. To assemble, layer the cake with mascarpone cream, lemon curd and fresh strawberries, sprinkling powder sugar on top.
  7. Serve with extra lemon curd on the side. Enjoy!


30 thoughts on “Mum’s Poppy Seed Cake

  1. Great way to celebrate Mom’s day! Here in Italy we celebrate it the second Sunday of May… so I have some time left (but I can’t celebrate it on Sunday, ’cause I work)!

    • It’s funny how the dates differ in each country, such a pity you have to work on Sunday…

  2. Ohhhh I LOVE the video!!!!! Really cute <3 The cake looks delicious and your mom must be so happy seeing this post. You did such an awesome job with shooting and editing the video – I love it!!! Hope you had a wonderful birthday weekend as well. xo

  3. I couldn’t help thinking that this would make a beautiful bridal shower cake, so beautiful and the presentation so very inviting. I like how you were true to your mum’s recipe yet added the lemon curd and cream–well done! :)

  4. The cake looks absolutely amazing!! My mother loves strawberry shortcake. I’ll have to try this version, as it puts the shortcake to shame!

  5. It’s a breathtaking cake, Gourmantine! Congratulations for the excellent video. I bet your mother felt as if she were very close to you watching the cake being made.
    It’s incredible because my mum’s “flagship” layered cake is poppy seed cake too! Not at all similar to yours ( and with chocolate cream, but it’s poppy seed cake too, so it made me think about my mum instantly…
    You have made an amazing present at distance!

    • Yours has chocolate cream…sigh… I’m sold on it instantly! :)

  6. That cake looks delicious… hopefully next time you’ll be able to travel to Lithuania on Mother’s day. I’m sure your mom is so pleased with your baking skills. :)

  7. I loved your video! You did an amazing job and like the upbeat music you choose with it. Happy mum’s day to you. I have the sudden urge to like your plate with the lemon curd dripping off the side but I would not want to ruin any of your beautiful pictures. Have a super week. BAM

  8. Happy belated Mother’s Day, to you and your mum! :)
    What a beautiful cake! Poppy seeds, lemons, and strawberries…what more does one need in life?

  9. Wow that is a tall and gorgeous cake. I have always like poppy seeds, particularly in cakes. And I totally approve on the mascarpone choice :-) Looks amazing. happy mom’s Day!

  10. Did this ever draw me in! I do love mascarpone with some lemon curd! How did you know? I cannot think of a better way to honor your mother or be honored by her. Here’s to the lucky Mom’s who had this on Mother’s Day.

  11. Well isn’t that just an indulgent, tower of deliciousness?! It looks so good G, and I really enjoyed the video too – I’d love to be able to have the space to film outside like that!

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