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Monday, January 20, 2014

Strawberry and poppy seed four-layered cake

A four layered cake with poppy seeds, soaked with orange and Cointreau syrup, sandwiched with orange-infused whipped cream (made fluffier with an addition of Greek yogurt) and strawberries. Sprinkled with extra poppy seeds for that lovable crunch and flavor. It tastes both deep and nutty from the seeds, creamy from all that gorgeous cream and summery from the fresh strawberries (which already go infamously well with the cream). :)

What makes this cake really special is dry-toasting the poppy seeds before using them, to make their flavor come alive. Don't skip that step and you'll be grateful to yourself. And everyone who gets a slice of the cake will ask you where you buy your poppy seeds from, because theirs don't taste so intense. And you don't have to tell them anything :).
Recipe source: the Romanian Good Food. (There's also a contest for people who cook a cake from their website and post about it, and I really hope I'll win one of their prizes. Fingers crossed!). Later edit: I actually won! :)

Last year: Kohlbrot mit wurstchen (German cabbage and sausage bread).
Two years ago: Mini cheesecakes in ramekins, with honey and lime.
Three years ago: Easy Spanish tapas (with deli meats) and Kolokitho Keftedes (Greek zucchini fritters) with tzatziki sauce.


For the cake:
  • 4 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 200 g unsalted butter (plus extra to butter the tins)
  • 225 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225 g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the syrup and the cream:
  • the zest and juice from 1 large orange
  • 100 g sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau (or some other orange liquor)
  • 170 g Greek yogurt
  • 500 ml liquid cream (minimum 30% fat) or creme fraiche
  • 350 g strawberries

Dry toast the poppy seeds in a small pan, over low heat, for 2-3 minutes or until you can smell them.

Let them aside to cool. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly butter the bottoms of two 20 cm cake tins and stick a baking paper circle on them:

Melt the butter and allow it to cool. Mix the flour with the baking powder and 3 tablespoons of the poppy seeds. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the butter and the vanilla extract and continue mixing. Gradually mix in the flour until all is incorporate it. Equally divide the cake batter between the tins:

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. Take out, allow them to cool and remove the cakes from the tins.

Using a long pastry or bread knife, cut the cakes in two, horizontally.

Prepare a syrup by heating together the orange juice, 50 g of sugar and the Cointreau. Spread the syrup all over the cakes (on the cut side so it gets absorbed better) while it's warm.

Make the cream. Beat together the liquid cream and the remaining 50 g sugar until it holds peaks. Mix in the Greek yogurt and the orange zest until it holds peaks again. Careful not to over-mix.
Wash the strawberries, hull and slice them. Reserve 2-3 for decorating, if you want.
Start assembling the cake. Prepare a cake stand. Put a cake layer on it. Spread one quarter of the cream and one third of the strawberries on it.

Repeat with another cake layer, and one third of the strawberries and one quarter of the cream and so on. After the last cake layer, put the last quarter of the cream on top and decorate with the reserved strawberries and the last tablespoon of toasted poppy seeds.

Put the assembled cake in the fridge at least 2 hours before serving.
The cake will be even better the next day, and the next day after that.
Slice and dig in! :)

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