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Poppy Seed & Chocolate Cake

20 minutes


16 servings

Something you should know about me, I love anything poppy seed and dark chocolate related. I have grown up eating poppy seed strudels all my life, on a yearly basis. Naturally, any opportunity to bake something with poppy seeds is a dream! What makes this Poppy Seed & Chocolate Cake intriguing is that the poppy seeds replace the need for flour. It is also a great combination with the chocolate bits throughout and strawberries on top. If you wish to get a taste of something that resembles a part of the European culture then this rich and decadent cake is your go to.

poppy seed & chocolate cake

Poppy seeds in Eastern European baking

Poppy seeds are wildly popular in Eastern Europe and appear in everything from sweet to savory foods but especially in desserts. Countries like Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Ukraine and other countries use poppy seeds in many dishes. Most of these countries do not use poppy seeds as a sprinkle on a cake, instead we use it in bulk – or should I say in a very decadent way.

Cakes, rolls, strudels, and crescents – you’ll find many different baked goods filled with a poppy seed filling.

Probably the most popular pastry with poppy seeds in Serbia, and many other Eastern European countries, is the poppy seed strudel. While we prepare these desserts during festive seasons, there are bakeries that serve this treat on a daily basis.

This poppy seed cake

When you live in a country that is different to your own, you often find yourself craving foods that remind you of past times. For me, desserts with poppy seeds so often remind me of home and of my Serbian culture.

This Poppy Seed & Chocolate cake was inspired by my nostalgia for home. My love for a delicious poppy seed strudel with the combination for my love of dark chocolate is what inspired this decadent creation. This cake is definitely the kind of cake that you are more likely to encounter in Eastern European bakeries or coffee shops. Rich and decadent cakes likes this are something I definitely miss.

poppy seed cake slice

Where to buy poppy seeds

While living in the New Zealand, I realized that poppy seeds are not easily available at grocery stores unlike they are in Serbia. Initially we had a hard time finding poppy seeds in New Zealand until many years ago my mum discovered a store which sells imported foods as well as foods sold in bulk (nuts, sauces, seasonings and other things). Luckily for us, poppy seeds was one of these products. We discovered that at this store you could purchase poppy seeds in a large bag. Interestingly, supermarkets in New Zealand sell poppy seed in the seasoning isle, and only in tiny packets.

So, if you have no clue where to find poppy seeds, it is best to search for them in some type of bulk food or imported food store. Poppy seeds are also better priced in stores like these (based on our experience). I am not sure if any stores sell poppy seeds that are already grounded, if they do that’s great! However if they do not, then grinding your own poppy seeds is easy.

Avoid purchasing a product called ‘poppy seed filling’ for this cake. These products can be handy for other recipes but they contain other ingredients like nuts, dried fruit, sugar and spices.

How to grind the poppy seeds

Easy. Grinding poppy seeds is not a very tricky task. Back in the day a lot of women would use special poppy seed mills but most of us do not have this in our kitchens today. So here are two ways to grind poppy seeds that have worked really well for me.

The first choice is to use a powerful food processor or a blender. In recent years I have used a Nutribullet blender to grind down the poppy seeds. This works really well. The poppy seeds need roughly ten seconds in the blender and they are good to go.

The second choice is to use a coffee grinder. I own a really old coffee grinder that has made it all the way from Serbia – from back in the 90’s. It originally belonged to my mum, but she gifted it to me.

Sometimes, coffee grinders can do an even better job than the food processor. They end up yielding super finely ground seeds. However depending on the size of your coffee grinder, this can be a tad more time consuming than a food processor. Coffee grinders are sometimes smaller and so you will have to grind the poppy seeds in multiple parts.

poppy seed and chocolate cake

The cake

This Poppy Seed & Chocolate cake is very simple to prepare. There are basically two parts to this and the first is to prepare the base of the cake. It is not often that cakes require little to no use of flour (nothing against flour here!), it’s quiet nice to change things up at times.

This cake does still require the use of eggs. It is best to have one bowl (preferably a stand mixer) into which you can whip up the eggs on high speed with sugar. The unique part of this cake is that it requires up to eight or nine minutes to whip the eggs into a smooth almost white, creamy texture. Next you gently mix in the grounded poppy seeds, vanilla essence, fold in the roughly chopped chocolate and bake!

Strawberry topping

Topping this cake with strawberry jam and some slowly cooked frozen berries may seem a little extra but trust me it’s worth it! The strawberries give this cake great flavour! They also go so well with the poppy seed and chocolate in the cake.

Spreading a layer of strawberry jam is easy, all you need is some already made strawberry jam! Cooking some frozen strawberries with sugar on the stove is not only going to give the cake extra flavour but will also make your kitchen smell divine! Once you have cooked the strawberries over a low heat, spread them over the cake and let this rest in the fridge for at least an hour or over night before serving.

This Poppy Seed & Chocolate cake is my new favourite cake to make. It’s just a simple and delicious everyday cake – no fancy tricks required. It tastes great as is. I love that the strawberries give this cake a slightly lighter taste alongside the rich poppy seeds – scattered with chocolate all over.

Did you try this recipe?

I love a rich and decadent dessert and I hope you do too! It’s so easy to prepare and it doesn’t take too much effort or time. Any thoughts or comments are welcome in the section below. You can also reach out over on Instagram to share your creations!



Adjust Servings
5whole eggs
160g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
200g grounded poppy seeds
30g unsalted butter (melted)
160g dark chocolate (roughly chopped)
50g strawberry jam
380g frozen strawberries
80g sugar


For the cake
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a square baking pan with baking paper.
In a stand mixer / mixing bowl - whip the eggs on medium speed for three minutes. Turn the speed up and gradually add the sugar and mix on high speed for a further five minutes. Add in the vanilla essence. Gradually start adding the grounded poppy seeds on medium speed, one tablespoon at a time until it is well incorporated. With a spatula, fold in the roughly chopped chocolate pieces.
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Baking the cake
Pour the mixture into the baking pan and bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until just set.
Let cool at room temperature.
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Strawberry topping
Once the cake has cooled, spread a thin layer of the strawberry jam.
In a cooking pot, combine the frozen strawberries and sugar. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring often. Once the strawberries have softened and thickened, remove from the heat and let cool for 20 minutes. Pour the strawberries evenly over the cake. Let the cake set in the fridge for an hour or overnight before serving.
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