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Orange Poppy Seed Cake - Super moist and full of orange and poppy seeds - this cake is delicious!

This last month or so I’ve been craving citrus of all kinds – oranges, lemons, and limes! (I’m sure it has something to do with this never-ending winter we’re having here in New England – and citrus to me is synonymous with sunshine!) So I decided to make this super moist Orange Poppy Seed Cake to satisfy my citrus cravings!

This cake is delicious and dense and filled with sweet orange flavor thanks to the zest of two oranges in the batter, as well as a fresh orange juice glaze that gets poured over the top of the cake. The glaze is added while the cake is still warm, so it seeps into the cake and every bite is full of delicious orange flavor! This cake is also chock-full of poppy seeds – half a cup in fact! So, if you’re a citrus and poppy seed fan like me, this is the cake for you!

Orange Poppy Seed Cake - Super moist and full of orange and poppy seeds - this cake is delicious!

When my husband Jack saw me making this cake – and adding in so many poppy seeds – it reminded him of a ‘situation’ that happened at work many years ago when he managed the food service operations at a government facility in New Hampshire. Because public safety was an important factor in that facility’s operations – the employees were subject to random drug tests at work.

One day there came news that a number of employees had tested positive on their drug tests – but after denials and some investigation, it turned out that all of the affected employees has been eating orange poppy seed muffins out of the vending machine! (Eating poppy seeds can sometimes give false-positive results.) Those delicious muffins, prepared by Jack’s kitchen crew, were immediately and permanently banned from the cafeteria and vending machines from that day forward! True story.

Orange Poppy Seed Cake - Super moist and full of orange and poppy seeds - this cake is delicious!

So – I know that was definitely a bit of a tangent to this wonderful orange poppy seed cake recipe. But now that Jack has told me that story – I’ll be thinking of it every time we make this delicious cake!

Recipe adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

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Orange Poppy Seed Cake

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 servings


Note: Because this cake bakes at such a low temperature, try to avoid opening the oven to check on the progress of the cake during the baking time. Sharing from personal experience – if the oven temperature cools down too much while the cake bakes, the center of the cake may collapse.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • teapoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 2 large oranges

For the Orange Glaze

  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • ½ cup granulated sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and set your oven rack to the middle position. Grease and flour a fancy bundt springform pan like this (use the fancy bottom with the center tube) or a 10-inch bundt pan. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standmixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Fold in the poppy seeds, vanilla and orange zest and mix just until evenly combined.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the edges of the cake shrink slightly away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 30 minutes and then turn out onto a cake rack or plate to cool.
  8. Prepare the glaze by mixing the orange juice and sugar together until the sugar dissolves.
  9. Using a toothpick or cake tester, prick holes throughout the top of the cake and slowly spoon or brush the glaze over the cake, allowing the glaze to seep into the cake.
  10. Slice to serve.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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  • jmk wrote:

    I love this cake too, but I do a slight variation of heating the poppy seeds with the milk till almost boiling, and letting it cool to room temperature. This integrates the poppy seeds better, and makes them less crunchy.

    • Martha wrote:

      Great suggestion! Thank you for sharing!

  • Judy wrote:

    Can you bake it in a regular bundt pan?

    • Martha wrote:

      Yes Judy! Just make sure that you grease and flour the bundt pan very well to make sure that the cake doesn’t stick!

  • stephanie wrote:

    Love the Silver Palate Cookbook! Great recipe!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Stephanie!

  • Kathy wrote:

    This cake looks delicious! I have been craving cake something awful lately! I’m adding this to my baking list!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Kathy – Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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