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Poppyseed Cake - The Perfect Cake for Shabbat! (עוגת פרג)

The Poppyseed cake is one of the most popular cakes in Israel. It came to Israel from Eastern Europe. Mostly Hungarian and Slovak jews brought it with them when they emigrated after Israel's Independence in 1948.

Many versions of poppyseed cakes now appear in bakeries all over Israel. The traditional poppyseed cake is a pastry roll with a poppyseed paste filled in the center. That I will save for another recipe. Also very delicious.

Hungarian bakeries were known to have the best poppyseed cakes in the country. People would travel to their favorite Hungarian bakery just for this pastry.

My kid's late grandmother Clara made the best moist poppyseed cake I can remember. It was covered in a homemade chocolate spread. I asked her how she made it and she would tell me "a little cup of flour, some sugar, some eggs, a cup of oil and chocolate". Hmmm..I tried that, but....

I have managed to duplicate the recipe after many trials and I think I have come as close as I can remember. I use chocolate ganache for the topping. And.... there is a secret ingredient in the cake that I always remember she would use.

It is a delicious dessert and a perfect cake to serve for Shabbat!

Tip: In Israel you can buy the poppyseeds at any spice counter and they grind it for you. In the US there is no such service to be found so you have to buy it and grind it yourself. It must be ground and not used whole. Grind it only the day you use it as it does not stay fresh more than a couple of days in the refrigerator.

Ingredients you will need for cake

8 ounces of self raising flour - approximately 226 grams + ½ teaspoon baking powder or plain/all purpose flour + 2 teaspoons baking powder

4 eggs separated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (not essence)

4 ounces of white sugar and 4 ounces of brown sugar

¼ cup of cognac (the secret ingredient) or whisky. I used whisky since it's all I had but I prefer cognac.

1 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon cornflour

2 small vanilla flavored yogurts approx. 226 grams (my addition to the traditional recipe)

1 cup of poppyseeds freshly grounded the day you use it. I buy it online, and ground it myself since there is nowhere that does it here in the US that I know of.

Ingredients for chocolate ganache

300 grams heavy cream

300 grams semi sweet chocolate or any chocolate you like

Turn oven to 350 degrees. Depending on your oven, if it is a very hot oven turn on to 325.

Line a round baking tin with parchment paper.

In a mixer bowl add both types of sugar and oil and beat until blended and creamy. Add egg yolks and mix. Add yogurt. I found after many trials that the vanilla yogurt added a nice moistness to the cake. Continue mixing. Add vanilla extract and cognac or whisky.

Beat egg whites until starting to form peaks but not too stiff and slowly add to your mix a little bit at a time.

Finally add the flour and the ground poppyseeds in parts. Add a little then mix, add a little more then mix in until all is blended well. The last part I like to add and mix by hand so not to over mix.

Pour your cake mix into the lined pan and place in the oven for approximately 45 minutes. Check to see if it is ready by inserting a toothpick which should come out clean. Also the sides will shrink away from the side of the pan when the cake is done.


While cake is cooling add the cream and chocolate together in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second parts until all the chocolate is melted in.

Using a hand whisk mix it all together until it appears shiny.

Let cool and pour on to cooled cake. I like to keep this cake in the refrigerator. Tradionaly it was always served cold!

Enjoy this favorite cake of Israel and mine!!

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