Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting
Do you ever have those days where you feel like you’re watching someone else live your life? Like you’re the creeper on the other side of a two-way mirror? And, like a creeper, all you want to do is grab that idiot living your life and scream, get it together woman!

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

I totally spaced my baby’s well-check up at the doctor this morning. Charlotte had not 1 but 2 accidents at her friend’s house. I burned my arm taking something out of the oven. Then I pulled the door off of our fridge.

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

For real. It just came right off in my hand, first one corner then the other. (Remember how we didn’t have a handle on our microwave for 2 years? Maybe the other appliances are picking up on this trend?)

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

I could not stop laughing. It’s probably a good thing the day ended that way; the alternative was tears, and crying gives me a headache anyway.

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

Well, by now you’ve probably noticed the pictures of the giant 3-layer cake I made. I figured what the heck, I might as well go out with a bang.  (I also thought it was a good idea to follow up yesterday’s act with some straight up sugar.)

So far this year I’ve posted healthy stuff, like Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Rice, Cilantro-Lime Cucumber Salad, mayo-free Deviled Guacamole Eggs, and Kale, Chicken & White Bean Soup. If you add all those recipes up, the total net butter amounts to 1 tablespoon. One tablespoon, people! In an entire year of healthy food! This sounds less impressive when I remember that there have only been 14 days so far this year.

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

I’m making up for it, I guess. This cake has over a pound of butter in it. Also, if you take a drug test after eating it, you’ll probably get fired.

Waaaaaaaaait! Come back! It’s worth it, I promise. Even if you get fat and buzzed from it.

Just kidding. About the buzzed part at least.

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

My friends Chels and Josh over at Catz in the Kitchen recently made this for Chels’ birthday, and they said it fed 22 people. Hopefully that makes you feel a little better about all the butter.

The cake is thick, creamy, full of almond flavor and tiny pops of poppyseed. I couldn’t finish a single one of the slices I had. It is beyond rich, and so, so good. I love the hint of cardamom, it’s not a spice usually used in cake. But it totally works. There are some how-to shots below! Happy Tuesday!

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

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Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

Yield: Serves at least 12.


    For the cake:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 2 cups milk, at room temperature (or warm it in the microwave until it's tepid)
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • For the frosting:
  • 3 sticks (1 & 1/2 cups) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 7 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 6 tablespoons half-and-half, plus more if needed
  • poppy seeds for sprinkling


  1. Prepare 3 9-inch cake pans by spraying them thoroughly with nonstick spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl: flour, baking powder, cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, cream the 2 sticks of butter, 2 cups of sugar, and half cup honey until light and fluffy, at least 2 minutes, scraping the sides as you go.
  4. Separate the 6 eggs: the whites need to go in a separate large bowl. (If you have 2 bowls for your stand mixer, use the other one). Set that aside.
  5. Add the yolks to the butter mixture, one at a time, stirring in between each addition. Make sure you scrape the sides well. Beat until it is smooth and creamy.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the milk, vinegar, and almond extract. It's okay if it curdles.
  7. Add the milk mixture and the flour mixture alternately to the butter mixture, stirring after each addition until just combined.
  8. Gently fold in the poppyseeds. Set aside.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  10. Add the 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar to the eggs whites. Using an electric mixer, beat the whites until soft peaks form; it will take several minutes.
  11. Add the beaten egg whites to the cake batter in 3 additions, mixing until just combined.
  12. Divide the batter evenly among the 3 prepared cake pans. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check each cake, some may cook slower than others.
  13. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes. When you can handle the pans without burning yourself, remove the cakes to a wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper.
  14. At this point, you can either freeze the cakes to frost later, or do it immediately. To freeze: While the cakes are still hot, wrap each cake tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. Freeze for several hours, or up to 3 days. The night before you want to frost, place them in the fridge to defrost.
  15. To frost immediately: let the cakes cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least an hour. It's easier to frost a cold cake.
  16. To make the frosting: beat together the butter and sugar until a thick paste forms. Then add the extracts and half & half, adding more if it seems too thick. Beat until fluffy.
  17. Spread about 1/2 cup frosting over each layer. Frost the top of the cake, then spread the excess down the sides. I found this tutorial helpful.
  18. Sprinkle the top with more poppyseeds, and pipe on the stars using a large star tip.


You can replace half the flour in this recipe with white whole wheat flour.


Source: adapted from Bake at 350, who got it from Cake Ladies. As see on Catz in the Kitchen.

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream FrostingIt really makes things so much easier if you line the pans.

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream FrostingWhisk together all those dry ingredients…

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream FrostingThat’s a lot of poppyseeds. Oh yeah.

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream FrostingSoft peaks.

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream FrostingAdd the egg whites in 3 additions.
Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream FrostingHello frosting. You want it to be thick enough that’s it’s not falling off when you hold up a spoon, but still spreadable.

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream FrostingI like to pipe a frosting dam so that it doesn’t all squish out.

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

Then spread some more in the middle. Don’t go crazy, you still have to frost the outside of the cake.Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream FrostingStack up all 3 layers…

Spiced Poppyseed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

Spread the frosting on top of the cake, then spread the excess down the sides. I found this tutorial helpful.





  1. says

    No wonder you spaced your daughter’s check-up, you’ve got a lot going on, and this cake must have taken a while! :) The only thing you can do after a day like that is laugh it off. Good for you. And I didn’t know your daughter’s name was Charlotte! I LOVE LOVE LOVE that name. It’s on my “if I have a girl someday” name list. :) This cake is seriously gorgeous and sound so incredibly delicious. And it does make me feel better that it feeds 22 people. :)

    • says

      Thanks Nicole! Charlotte is a good name, we get compliments all the time. You should definitely consider it :) Thing is though, it’s coming back. I bet she won’t be the only Charlotte in her class growing up. I guess we will see!

  2. Kris says

    So this is what you were doing that day I was at work! I ate a bunch of this after you guys left, then took the rest to work. It was gone soon after. I knew if I didn’t take it to work I would eat all of it. Myself. Without help from Chip. Soo0000 delicious! Thanks Karen! I miss you cooking and blogging from my kitchen! And I really miss all the food you made!

  3. says

    Sounds like you had “one of those days”. Glad you can end it with laughter! I was cracking up this morning when I saw your Instagram picture of your fridge door falling off. Haha! How does that happen Karen? I can just picture all the little condiments on the door shelves falling out too. Hope it can be fixed. And seriously having a major food crush on this cake. So pretty! Bet it tastes amazing. Treat yourself to an extra slice, and maybe you’ll have better luck the rest of the week : )
    Natalie @ Tastes Lovely recently posted…Easy Homemade Garlic BreadMy Profile

    • says

      I don’t know how it happens, Natalie! Superhuman strength?? I mean, I knew I was awesome but… :) My husband came home and saved the day. It’s good as new now, it was just a missing screw.

      Oh, and you better believe I served myself up an extra slice of this cake!

  4. Sarah says

    I’m pretty sure Brian is going to be making me this for my birthday. Even though I’m the only one who will like it and my blimp-in-jogging-shorts status will be certain. I won’t even care because I’ll be in an opium-induced trance, right? DANG this looks delicious. Let’s not wait that long. Let’s make it when you come. CAAAAAAAKE.

  5. says

    Totally gorgeous! Love the way the poppyseeds look on the cutaway shot. I noticed that last year I didn’t post a single sweet recipe in all of January on the blog. It was totally unintentional-it just so happened I wasn’t making a lot of sweets. I thought this year maybe I’d try to do it again only on purpose. It’s totally not happening. Ha. Bring on the butter!
    Courtney @ Neighborfood recently posted…Cozy Cassoulet with Garlic Breadcrumb ToppingMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks Courtney! That’s pretty funny that you weren’t even trying to be healthy in the most quintessential healthy-food time of year. And I’m with you. I’ve got a couple other low calorie recipes coming up but after that…bring on the butter. I mean, it’s practically Valentine’s Day right?

  6. says

    OMG that’s right! I forgot about poppy seeds showing up like an opiate in drug tests. Or something of that nature. And girl when things go wrong like a snowball effect, sometimes all you can do is laugh. I love your blog and this cake looks delicious. I have yet made something with poppy seeds. I gotta get on that!

    • says

      Thank you Connie! You know before I wrote this I googled it just to make sure it wasn’t a myth, but it really isn’t, poppyseeds totally make you look like a heroin addict. I think you should make this for your first venture into poppyseed land. You know. Go all out…but try not to get fired.

  7. Jenna says

    I made this cake for a friend’s birthday tonight. Huge win! Everyone loved it and went back for seconds. I followed your instructions with no problem. Thank you for sharing!


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