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This one is a unique cake. It is the beloved cake my foodie friend’s mum makes for her birthday every year. The ingredients might seem a little unusual, but the flavours and the crumb are lovely! Sissi recipe is here, I simplified it and increased the amounts to accommodate a pair of 9-inch cake tins. In essence, I believe I remained faithful to Sissi’s birthday cake. Here is the story in a nutshell: Make the ganache first and refrigerate it for a couple of hours. Cook the poppy seeds next, drain and let them cool. Preheat the oven, prepare the cake pans, and then make the cake. Let the cakes cool, cut them in half and sprinkle them with rum. Finally assemble the cake, chill it and decorate it with walnuts. Use only good quality chocolate for the ganache.

We had a slice exactly twenty-four hours later. I was bowled over by the perfection of this cake. I should have thought of it that light soaking with rum would take awhile to mature the crumb. Next time I make it, I am serving it the following day. Matured and with the rum permeating the cake layers, Sissi’s cake became nothing short of extraordinary! Oh, we are having this again!

Chocolate Ganache:
12 squares of semi sweet dark chocolate [altogether 336 g]
300 ml heavy cream (25% fat or more)

2 cups [250 g] poppy seeds
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
12 high heaped Tbsp fine bread crumbs
8 egg whites
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup + rum for soaking the cake layers
walnut kernels for decoration

• Place the chocolate and the whipping cream in the top of a double boiler.
• Melt it slowly, stirring occasionally.
• Remove from heat and place ganache in the fridge for two hours.
• Meanwhile place the poppy seeds in a pot and cover with water.
• Bring to the boil and reduce heat to simmer.
• Simmer poppy seeds for 15 minutes.
• Drain well and set aside.
• Preheat the oven to 350F.
• To prepare two 9-inch cake pans: Spray the pans with cooking spray. Line the cake pans with parchment paper. Spray the lining on the top, sprinkle lightly with fine breadcrumbs, and then set aside.
• Beat the egg yolks and the sugar for 4-5 minutes until very fluffy.
• Add the cooled and well-drained poppy seeds and the fine breadcrumbs to the beaten egg yolks alternatively.
• In a separate bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
• Gradually, not all at once, fold the beaten egg whites into the poppy seed mixture.
• Gently fold in the chopped walnuts.
• Divide cake batter between the prepared pans and place in the preheated oven.
• Opps, I failed to record baking time… again.
• Remove cakes from the oven and let them cool.
• Gently cut around the edge and remove cakes from the cake pans.
• With a serrated knife cut both cakes in half.
• Sprinkle the cake layers with the rum. I used a little more than 1/2 cup. :-)
• Thinly spread the layers with chocolate ganache and spread remaining ganache on the top and the sides.
• Chill the cake for 3-4 hours or overnight.
• Place the walnut kernels on the top, slice and serve.



  1. It looks fantastic!
    I loved it on Sissi's blog and I love it here now! I did tell Sissi I was going to make this very unique cake but up til now, I'm still daunted by the procedure. sounds like a lot of work. Maybe one day or week, when I get more hours to work on it ..... :)

  2. Zsuzsa, I have tears in my eyes... Really. What an extraordinary surprise! You have made me such a pleasure, you cannot even imagine. It is such a perfect, neat cake I am ashamed of my messy one. Years of your baking experience and a steady hand shows immediately in such things as layered cakes. It seems so moist, chocolatey... I cannot stop staring at the second close-up photo.
    I am also glad you liked it. It's not to everyone's taste I know. Thank you so so much, Zsuzsa. I had a bit sad beginning of the day but now I'm smiling :-)

  3. Sissi your words humble me. It was a labour of love and I treated your cake reverently. In retrospect, it could have been fine with the extra moisture from the tea - I am always underestimating my soaking syrups, because I don't like soggy cakes. Next time I make it, I will add the tea. I loved the combination of rich chocolate, the soft poppy seeds and the crunchy walnuts. I tried to mash the poppy seeds in my blender but it didn’t work for me. However, the cooking made the seeds very soft and I didn't think it would make much of a difference. I didn't add sugar to the ganache, I was after just a hint of bitterness and I succeeded, because it was very good quality chocolate, it had no fillers. Sissi, don't underestimate your own cake, it actually is more refined and the flavours were probably better blended then in mine. Your cake was not messy; it was magnificent. That is why I made one too. I have two more signature Hungarian cakes to make for my recipe collection, but I wanted to try my hand at your cake first. I am glad I did. My friend is coming over for a slice today; she was asking if the photo was up yet. My husband polished off a large slice [just before dinner] it couldn’t have been in the fridge for more than ten minutes. We loved your cake Sissi. I am getting a slice with my morning coffee now.

  4. Zsuzsa, your words warm my heart. I am touched by what you say and by this choice of the only food that is associated only with happy moments of my life (guests, presents, festive atmosphere...).
    My poppy seeds weren't ground either, but it was better than nothing. My mum advised it. As you say they are already soft and moist thanks to the boiling process.
    I wish I could have a slice of your beautiful cake for my dinner tonight... I would skip the main course and have a huge slice as the only meal.

  5. Wow, Zsuzsa! I saw the magnificent cake on my side bar last nite, and could not even open your blog to, since I saw the 'birthday' and Sissi's name, I wished her "Happy Birthday" in e-mail!
    Now, that I fixed my computer issues once again (no problem on yours)...just mine, with all the technical issues; fixed, once again.

    The poppyseed cake with the walnuts are truly a 'labor of love' you did for Sissi, on her favorite cake. I checked her cake, as well, and both are amazing!

    My family would love this cake, including the little ones, since they are accustomed to Italian and Eastern European cuisine, since they were very little! Funny how a lot of people 'detest' poppy seeds, and walnuts, they don't know what they're missing! The ganache is perfect, and the rum addition is so good, keeping the cake so moist.
    I'm for sure keeping this adapted recipe on top of my list to make for the holidays!
    Thanks to both you and Sissi for sharin:D

  6. Elisabeth, I added a postscript to the write up this morning, because 24 hrs later this cake was even better if you can believe it. I am SO making this again, we loved it!

    Poppyseeds and walnuts are an amazing combination - I will be making flodni soon. :-)

  7. WOW - Sissi's right! what a gorgeous and delicious looking cake! The soaking of the cake layers in rum sounds quite decadent but oh so good! My mother use to soak her Christmas fruit cakes in rum for a couple of weeks and they were the best! So sweet of you to have made this with Sissi in mind!

  8. This unique cake is something you make for someone special. And it takes someone special to commit to the effort involved ... two special people Zsuzsa and Sissi.

  9. I still haven't figured out how to subscribe to your blog but I'm happy to be able to visit occasionally and comment on your posts.

    I think this is a very impressive and flawlessly executed poppyseed and walnut cake that you've adapted from Sissi's recipe.

    The transformation and very classic presentation of ganache frosting decorated with the simple whole walnut halves turns this into an item that would not be out of place on a five-star restaurant's dessert menu. And I'm sure it also TASTED wonderful. :)

  10. Thank you all for posting, I feel fortunate, because I learned and benefited from following Sissi's cooking jurney. I don't know what I appreciated more, the complex foods as this wonderful cake was or her sometimes minimalist approach that turn out surprisingly fabulous. I took a quick look at your sites and wow! I am going to take a good look around. :-)

  11. I hopped over from sissi's log to see this cake, and wow you really have done the cake justice. It looks absoluely favulous, soft, moist with the rich dark layers of chocolate in between. Well done, both you and sissi (:

  12. That cake is a beauty. What flavors!!
    Like your gold-rimmed plate and lace tablecloth too :)

  13. Yes, thank you for noticing Lori Lynn. I placed Sissi's cake on a treasured plate. In 1967 my new husband bought me a set of dinnerware in Budapest that amazingly arrived in Prince Rupert, Canada six months later. A few plates were broken, but all the serving dishes survived so instead of the traditional 6 place setting, we had a complete dinnerware for five. Prophetic perhaps, because when the kids came there were five of us around the dinner table. Of course, we only used these for special occasions.

  14. Thank you Shu Han, the credit should really go to Sissi and her mom.

  15. Hi Zsuzsa,

    What a wonderful recipe. I made this for my dad's 52nd bday the other night and it was perfect.

    I discovered there is no flour when I looked at the list at the grocery store and that is when the panic started! I bake often but anytime its a Piskota type of cake when folding is needed I mess up. I just do it too fast I think and the whole thing deflates. Then I discovered that there is no baking powder etc - so more panic.

    However, I took a deep breath and plunged in. I figured what can go wrong if you have poppy seeds, walnuts and RUM!

    I worked very slowly and attentively, it did not deflate and I think it baked in 25 minutes! Its a great cake to cut soft but not crumb like. You were right - more rum should have been used for the soaking, its the bread crumbs I guess they soak it all in. Next time I will use even more. Also I was thinking that instead of icing wich chocolate the layers I will use kajszinlekvar next time ( and there will be a next time).

    Keep posting your recipes are wonderful!


  16. Lilla, all the credit should go to my friend Sissi. I am so grateful for this recipe. Apricots, walnuts, chocolate go together rather well with poppy seeds, so I think you will have a successful variation. Thank you for letting me know you liked it. I will pass it on to Sissi.

  17. we simply HAVE to make this one. Will let you know how it was...




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