Poppy Seed Cake

I love retro things, and this poppy seed cake could not look more retro. Perched under the dome of my glass cake stand, it reminds me of something you’d see on the counter of a diner where waitresses dress in aqua-colored uniforms, coffee is fifty cents a cup, and regulars know each other by name.

Adapted from a recipe I found at Taste of Home, which apparently won grand champion at the North Dakota state fair, this cake has amazing texture and absolutely delicious flavor. It’s almost like a moist pound cake, but not as heavy as a pound cake, and flavor-wise the combination of vanilla, almond, and butter extracts is one I’ve never used before but definitely will again. And because it uses oil instead of butter, this cake is incredibly easy to make, requiring only that you mix the ingredients together with a whisk and spoon. It’s one I’ll make many more times in the future.


For the cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter extract
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

For the icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter extract
  • 3-4 teaspoons orange juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt tin.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and extracts. Stir in flour in three batches, mixing to combine completely, then stir in poppy seeds.

Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in tin for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, combine powdered sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, butter extract, and 2 teaspoons orange juice; add enough additional juice to make a thick but pourable icing. Pour over cake and allow to drip down the sides. Allow icing to set before serving.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days; this cake stays moist much longer than I expected.

Bourbon Chocolate Bundt Cake

Sometimes I wonder how certain etiquette standards began. Like when someone passes away, family, friends, and neighbors bring food to the bereaved. Perhaps people wanted to support their loved ones and make the days following a loss easier, and not having to cook – or worry about refreshments to serve to visitors paying respects – was a kind way of doing that. And here we are, so many years later in human history, still doing that very same thing.

This cake is en route to Maryland with Mike today, as he travels to Annapolis to celebrate the life of his Uncle Haysie, who passed away earlier this week. Haysie was married for 45 years to Mike’s very dear Aunt Wendy, one of my absolute favorite in-laws. They were a wonderful couple, and I’m hoping this bourbon chocolate cake with make her smile.


For the cake

  • 3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces sweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup instant coffee crystals
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • About 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bourbon, divided

For the glaze

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/2 tablespoon bourbon


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Thoroughly butter a 10-inch Bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine chopped unsweetened and sweet baking chocolate. Microwave, uncovered, for 1 minute, then stir; continue microwaving in 15-30 second intervals and stirring until chocolate is completely melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla extract.

In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, combine coffee crystals and boiling water; add enough cold water to bring the total liquid to 1 1/2 cups, then stir in the 1/2 cup bourbon.

Add flour mixture and coffee mixture to chocolate mixture in alternate batches, beginning and ending with the flour, and beating until just combined after each addition. You’ll want to scrape down your bowl a few times during the process.

Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean; I covered my cake around 45 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes.

Turn cake out onto a wire rack and brush the top and sides with 2 tablespoons bourbon. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, combine melted butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and 2 tablespoons water in a bowl and stir until smooth; add bourbon and stir completely to combine. If your glaze is too thick, you can add one more tablespoon of water; I wanted a thicker glaze so I just used 2. Using a spoon, drizzle glaze over the cake; allow to set.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

pumpkinbundtIt’s October, the time of Pumpkin Spice Everything. Lattes, cheesecakes, scones, breads, raviolis, even Pop Tarts – you name it, at this time of year, you can find it in the pumpkin or pumpkin spice variety.

Canned pumpkin is a staple in my pantry, stocked year-round for a range of recipes. I buy pumpkin puree – not pie filling – in the large, 29-ounce cans, which leaves plenty for multiple recipes at one time. Earlier this week, I used 15 ounces in some pumpkin chocolate chip bread, so I had 14 ounces – about 1 3/4 cups – left over.

Once open, canned pumpkin will last in the fridge for about 5-7 days, so it’s best to use it up soon. If you’re looking for good ideas, you need 1 cup for pumpkin streusel muffins or pumpkin cupcakes, and can use the remaining 3/4 cup for pumpkin biscotti. You can also use 1 1/2 cups for pumpkin donuts and just mix the remainder into some pancake batter or a smoothie. I wanted to use the rest of my pumpkin up all at once, and I found this pumpkin Bundt recipe at Taste of Home; it originally called for 15 ounces of pumpkin, but my 14 ounces did just fine. Topping-wise, you could dust this with powdered sugar or just leave it plain, but I thought the combination of glaze and spice drizzle gave it a nice extra touch.


For the cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 14 ounces pumpkin puree

For the glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • About 2 1/2 tablespoons milk

For the spice drizzle

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3-4 teaspoons milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 10-inch Bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar and oil until very well-combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing very well after each.

Stir in flour mixture and pumpkin alternatively, stirring until well-combined and smooth. Spoon or pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 45 minutes, then check with a cake tester or toothpick; continue baking for a few minutes at a time, checking frequently, until the cake tester comes out clean. The original recipe called for 60 minutes of baking time, but my cake baked for about 50 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool cake in pan for 10 minutes. Flip out onto a wire rack to cool completely before glazing and drizzling.

To make the glaze, in a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon milk. Continue adding additional milk until the glaze reaches a pourable consistency, then pour or drizzle over cake, allowing to drip down the sides. Allow glaze to set for just a few minutes before adding the spice drizzle.

To make the spice drizzle, combine powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl. Add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until the drizzle reaches a drizzly consistency, like thick honey. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe over the glaze, allowing drizzle to drip down the sides (or just drizzle with a spoon). Allow drizzle to set before serving.

Store at room temperature.

pumpkinbundt2Here’s an overhead view of the cake  – pretty, eh?

Bundt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze

I wanted to bake a King Cake yesterday in preparation for Mardi Gras, but I didn’t have the patience to make brioche.  Since bundt cakes are similar in shape to King Cakes, I decided to bake this one and decorate it with a lemon vanilla glaze and some fun green, yellow, and purple colored sugar.

This was a very quick and easy recipe, yielding a rich, dense, almost pound cake-like texture that goes well with coffee or tea.  Though the recipe calls for lemon juice, the lemon flavor bakes out; for a true lemon bundt, I’d look for a recipe with lemon extract or lemon pudding mix in the batter.

Bundt Cake


  • 1 cup butter, slightly softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Generously grease and flour your bundt pan.  I use Wondra flour, which is a superfine flour used for gravies and sauces; it coats grooved pans much better than all-purpose flour.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add lemon juice and beat until combined.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beating until combined.

Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan.

Bake for 50 minutes.

Lemon Vanilla Glaze


  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-4 tablespoons water


Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons water in a large, 4-cup glass measuring cup.  Continue adding water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency; glaze should be drizzly, but not too thin.  If you make the glaze too thin, just add a few tablespoons of powdered sugar to thicken it.  Pour over cake, allowing glaze to drip down the sides.

Sprinkle with green yellow, and purple sugars if desired.