This is one of my favourite recipe transformations. I have previously posted a recipe for a Gerbaud cake, which I like so much. The layers of pastry and jam never leave me indifferent. So considering how much I like poppy seeds, this was actually an expected modification. We made it once at home years ago and among all the other recipes we either made on regular basis or new recipes we wanted to try, Gerbaud cake seemed to be forgotten. And so was its poppy seed twin. Having decided to revive all of my favourite childhood recipes and having a silly amount of jam in the fridge, I made the poppy seed version of a Gerbaud cake for a second time. And once again, it was delicious.

I was quite happy with my original Gerbaud recipe, so I only changed the filling. Unlike greasy (=moist) walnuts, poppy seeds are very dry, so sprinkling them over the jam would not be enough. They need a drink, something sweet and tasty to soak up while baking, which will turn them into a layer of creamy paste perfectly set into a layer of tangy plum jam. This time I didn’t skip the chocolate glaze – for some reason I like it with a combination of jam and poppy, but could not imagine it in a combo of jam and walnuts. Is that weird?

preparation time: about 40 minutes
time of baking: about 50 minutes, 170°C (340 F)
baking pan size: 22×30 cm (8,6×12 in)

Ingredients for the dough:
100 ml milk + 1 tsp sugar
4 g dry yeast
400 g flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
65 g granulated white sugar
180 g cold unsalted butter
1 whole egg
1 Tbsp heavy cream or milk

Ingredients for the filling:
200 ml milk
70 g granulated white sugar
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp rum*
200 g poppy seeds
9 – 12 Tbsp plum jam (or any jam you like and have on hand)
*This is optional, you could use any liquor you like that goes well with cakes, such as Rum, Cherry Brandy…) or not use it at all

Ingredients for the chocolate glaze:
160 g semi sweet chocolate
50 g butter
2 Tsp milk or cream

1. Start by making the dough. Warm up milk along with a teaspoon of sugar in a small saucepan until it gets luke warm. Sprinkle dry yeast on top and let it sit for about 5 minutes until it gets foamy.

2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add granulated sugar and mix everything briefly. Then add cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes and start working it into the flour using your fingertips by smashing the butter cubes and rubbing them into the flour. If you don’t feel like doing it by hand, use a food processor and pulse it pausing every 5 seconds or so until you get grainy texture.

3. After getting a crumbly mixture with tiny chunks of butter evenly distributed throughout the flour, add warm milk and yeast, a whole egg and a tablespoon of heavy cream. Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or simply using your hands, quickly form a ball of dough and divide it into 4 equal parts (have one of them slightly bigger than the other three. This one will be the first layer that goes up the sides of a baking pan.) and let the dough rest until you make the filling. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340 F.

4. Prepare the filling. In a small saucepan and over low heat, warm up 200 ml of milk with sugar, honey and cinnamon. When it gets to a simmer, remove from the heat and add a tablespoon of rum. Measure 3 equal portions of poppy seeds.

5. Start assembling the cake. Have a baking pan prepared – brush the bottom and the sides with some melted butter and sprinkle lightly with flour so the cake doesn’t stick. Roll the first part of the dough (the slightly bigger one) to a size of the baking pan plus a few extra cm on each side so it goes up the sides of the pan. Cover it with 3-4 tablespoons of jam and sprinkle evenly with the first portion of poppy seeds. Then, using a spoon, pour about one third of the mixture of milk, sugar and honey evenly over the poppy seeds.

6. Roll out the second part of the dough and repeat the same process – smear jam over the dough, sprinkle with poppy seeds, pour the liquid. Repeat one more time and roll out the last piece of dough to cover the cake. Tuck the ends and using a fork prick the whole cake making sure to get to the bottom of the cake as well. This will ensure even baking because the steam will be able to get through the cake leaving the layers thin and narrow.

7. Bake in a preheated oven for about 45 to 55 minutes. The top should be lightly golden brown but, because this is a cake with many layers, make sure you bake it completely. Therefore, place the baking pan in the middle, or even in a lower part of the oven. The sides of the cake should start to detach from the sides of the pan.

8. While the cake is in its last minutes of baking, make the glaze. Melt butter and chocolate along with some milk in a small saucepan. Right after taking the cake out of the oven, pour the glaze over the hot cake and let everything set for about few hours. While I love the cake warm with chocolate oozing all over the slices, once it sets, the layers will be moist and the slices will be thin and equal (prettier), so making it a day before is a good idea. Or you know, pour a cup of milk and eat it warm, nobody can blame you.

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