Elsa’s Poppy Seed Crumble Cake

by meike peters

Poppy Seed Crumble Cake

My aunt asked me for a helping hand in the kitchen because she had a baking marathon of three cakes to manage in one day, so I decided to bake one of them. She let me choose, they all sounded nice but I went for a recipe which I wouldn’t usually bake. It’s a poppy seed crumble cake with a sweet yeast dough, an old German recipe which she got from her friend Elsa many years ago.

I’m happy about my choice as the yeast dough alone is already wonderful, light and not too sweet. I will definitely use it for other recipes soon, maybe a Sunday morning Challah (plaited yeast cake). Although it’s so light and spongy it’s still strong enough to carry the thick layer of smooth poppy seed cream, semolina, ground almonds and raisins. If this wasn’t enough, the cake is topped with crunchy buttery crumbles (I used the crumble recipe of my Apple Crumble Cake).

When I was a child, I loved poppy seed swirl cake. I couldn’t get enough of it, but then at one point I lost interest for no apparent reason. So for years I haven’t baked with these crunchy black seeds at all but I think they will return to my kitchen after this cake!

Poppy Seed Crumble Cake

Poppy Seed Crumble Cake

For a 39 x 32cm / 15.5 x 12,5″ tray of cake you need


For the yeast dough

plain flour 500g / 1 pound
dry yeast 1 package for 500g / 1 pound of flour
sugar 60 g / 2 ounces
a pinch of salt
milk, lukewarm, 150ml
butter, melted and cooled, 100g / 3.5 ounces
organic eggs 2

Combine the dry ingredients, add the milk, butter and eggs and mix with your dough hooks for 5 minutes. Continue kneading with your hands for a couple minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm oven (top / bottom heat) for about 45 minutes until well risen.

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the yeast dough and put it on the baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise for 15 – 20 minutes in a warm place.

Set the oven to 175°C (top / bottom heat) and prepare the poppy seed mixture and crumbles.


For the poppy seed mixture

semolina 125g / 4.5 ounces
sugar 150g / 5.5 ounces
salt 1/4 teaspoon
milk 1000ml
organic egg yolks 2
poppy seeds, crushed, 250g / 9 ounces
almonds, ground, 100g / 3.5 ounces
raisins 50g / 2 ounces
zest of 1 lemon

In a large pot, bring the milk, semolina, sugar, salt and egg yolks to the boil, stirring constantly. Continue stirring and let it cook for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the poppy seeds, almonds, raisins and lemon zest, combine everything and set aside.


For the crumbles

The crumbles need good preparation as you have to make sure that the mixture is neither too moist nor too dry. Have some extra flour and melted butter close at hand so that you can add some immediately if necessary.

plain flour 200g / 7 ounces (plus more if the crumbles are too sticky)
sugar 125g / 4.5 ounces
vanilla sugar 1 teaspoon
butter, melted, 125g / 4.5 ounces (plus more if the crumbles are too fine)

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour the melted butter on top and mix quickly with the hooks of your mixer, this shouldn’t take longer than 20 seconds. If the crumbles are too moist and sticky add a bit more flour (1-2 tablespoons). If they are too fine and don’t form bigger crumbles add more melted butter.


For the cake, spread the poppy seed mixture over the yeast dough and sprinkle with the crumbles. Bake the cake for 40 minutes or until the crumbles are golden.

Poppy Seed Crumble Cake


Poppy Seed Crumble Cake