Why you’ll love it
Orange and poppy seed cake is zesty, citrusy, and pairs wonderfully with a cuppa. The crunch of the poppy seeds as well as their mildly nutty and sweet flavour is the perfect match for bright oranges and earthy vanilla.
- An unmistakable hit of orange flavour from both the juice and zest of fresh oranges.
- The crumb is tight yet tender, soft, and moist.
- It’s a bundt cake so it’s effortlessly beautiful. Plus, single-layer cakes are so easy to make.
- The 2 ingredient orange glaze takes just minutes to make.
- It stays perfectly moist for 3-4 days!
I love baking just as much as I love cooking, so I’m constantly experimenting in my kitchen. But I love simplicity, so single layer cakes with an easy icing like this bundt cake are definitely my jam. Check out this much-loved Greek orange semolina cake too.
This orange & poppy seed cake is my latest bundt love – it’s perfect served for a morning or afternoon tea, or even a special occasion since she’s so pretty.
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Ingredients you’ll need
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Oranges: For the gorgeous citrus flavors from fresh orange juice and zest in this orange and poppy seed cake recipe, you’ll need 3 medium-sized oranges. It’s used in both the batter and the glaze. You could also use blood oranges if they’re in season but you’ll need more of them as they are generally a smaller orange.
- Plain Yoghurt: Make sure it’s at room temperature. You could use Greek yogurt instead.
- Vanilla: A teaspoon of vanilla extract adds a certain warmth and earthiness to this orange bundt cake — in the best way possible.
- Flour: Use plain flour (aka all-purpose flour). Or, if you want to make this gluten-free, use your preferred GF blend.
- Baking Powder: To help your orange cake rise.
- Poppy Seeds: Nutty, sweet, and subtle, poppy seeds make this cake a lot more interesting — both visually and in terms of texture and taste. You can leave them out though if you don’t like them and you’ll still have a gorgeous orange bundt cake.
- Salted Butter: I’m not adding any extra salt to the batter, which is why I lean on salted butter. That said, you could use unsalted plus an extra ¼ teaspoon of salt if that’s what you have on hand.
- Vegetable Oil: I like canola oil or rice bran oil.
- Eggs: 3 whole large eggs at room temperature are needed for this orange poppyseed cake.
- Sugar: You’ll use granulated sugar in the cake batter and icing sugar (also called powdered sugar) for the orange glaze.
How to make orange and poppy seed cake (step-by-step)
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Prepare the oranges: Start by zesting the oranges – I always use a microplane for this as it gets the zest without getting the bitter white pith beneath it. Once you have about 2 tablespoons of zest, place it in a small jug and set aside. Next, juice the oranges until you get ⅔ cup of orange juice. Add half of it to the orange zest jug and save the rest for the glaze. Add your vanilla and yoghurt along with the zest and juice.
- Combine the dry ingredients: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and poppy seeds in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar: Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until they are blended together nicely (photo 1). You can use a handheld electric mixer too.
- Add the oil: Add the vegetable oil and beat for another few minutes. The mixture should become very pale and fluffy (photo 2).
- Next, the eggs: Reduce the speed to low and incorporate the eggs one at a time, making sure to mix after you add each one (photo 3).
- Incorporate the dry ingredients: Add one-third of the flour mixture to the bowl and continue to mix on low until it’s almost fully combined (photo 4).
- Add the orange and yoghurt mixture: Pour about half of the orange zest, juice, and yoghurt mixture into the bowl and beat again on low until combined (photo 5). Repeat the process and add half of the remaining flour, then the yoghurt mix. Finally, use a spatula to mix through the very last portion of the flour mixture. Be careful not to overmix!
- Add the batter to the tin: Gently pour the orange and poppy seed cake batter into your prepared bundt tin (photo 6).
- Bake: Bake your bundt cake for 35-40 minutes. Let it cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Say a little prayer that you got into all those nooks and crevices when you greased and floured the pan.
- Make the icing: When your orange poppy seed cake has cooled down, you simply combine the icing sugar and orange juice then pour it over the orange poppy seed bundt cake and garnish with some extra orange zest. Enjoy!
Tips and tricks
- For the best results, you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap, but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop directly from the container). Weighing your ingredients means you get the exact amount the recipe was created with, while using cups (depending on your method of filling those cups) will result in different quantities.
- Grease the bundt tin well, making sure to get into all the grooves. Par melted butter brushed in with a pastry brush is a great way to get into those sharp corners. I prefer not to use spray-type cake tin greasers as they often damage the coating on your baking pans.
- All ovens vary. What takes 35 minutes in mine might take 33 or 37 in yours. The temperature shown on the dial or screen of most ovens will not match the internal temperature. For this reason, I always recommend keeping a separate oven thermometer inside your oven so you can keep a close eye on it.
- Don’t overbake: Bundt tins have heat coming from both the outside of the tin and through the hole in the centre so be very careful not to overbake. Your orange and poppy seed cake is done when a toothpick comes out with a couple of crumbs stuck to it.
- Don’t cool in the tin: While in the tin, the cake will retain heat and continue to bake. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Yes, you can leave the poppy seeds out of the cake and you’ll have a simple but lovely orange bundt cake.
Poppy seeds can be eaten safely without soaking. However, soaking may help to soften or remove the hard outer shell which makes digestion easier. My personal preference is not to bother soaking before baking.
Poppy seeds add a very mild slightly nutty and sweet flavour. They’re mostly known for their textural crunch.
Yes. While I love the gorgeous presentation of a glazed orange & poppy seed cake in a bundt tin, you can also use a square or rectangle-shaped baking dish or even a large loaf pan (or maybe two small ones). You may have to adjust the cooking times to prevent over or undercooking.
Leftovers will keep 3-4 days in an airtight container at room temperature. I don’t recommend storing it in the refrigerator, as the fridge tends to dry out cakes. Orange and poppy seed cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Let it thaw overnight before enjoying.
Did you try this orange and poppy seed cake recipe?
Leaving a rating and comment below the recipe is so helpful!
Orange and Poppy Seed Cake
- 3 medium oranges, room temperature
- 1 cup plain yoghurt, room temperature (250ml)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 390 g plain flour (all purp flour) (3 cups / 14oz)
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ cup poppy seeds
- 113 g salted butter, softened (½ cup / 1 stick / 4oz)
- ½ cup vegetable oil (like canola oil or rice bran oil) (125ml)
- 1 ½ cups white granulated sugar (300g / 10 ½oz)
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups icing sugar (confectioners / powdered sugar) (195g / 7oz)
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced) / 350F. Grease the bundt tin using very soft butter making sure to get into all the grooves and corners. Flour the bundt tin all over and tap out the excess flour.
- PREP THE ORANGES:Start by zesting and juicing the oranges. Zest the oranges until you have roughly 2 tablespoons of zest and set that aside in a small jug.
- Juice the oranges until you have ⅔ cup of orange juice. Add ½ a cup of the orange juice to the orange zest in the jug. The remaining juice will be used for the icing.
- Add the yoghurt and vanilla to the orange juice/zest jug and give it a whisk together. Set aside.
- FOR THE CAKE BATTER:In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and poppy seeds to disperse and aerate. Set aside.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar on medium for 1 minute until nicely blended together. Add the oil and beat for another minute or 2 until very pale and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating on low until combined each time. Scrape the sides of the bowl a few times throughout.
- Add one third of the flour mixture and mix on low until 80% combined.
- Now add half of the orange yoghurt mixture and beat on low again until nearly combined. Repeat this process – half remaining flour, then the remaining yoghurt mix, finally using a spatula to mix through the very last portion of flour mixture. Careful not to overmix.
- Tip the thick cake batter into the prepared bundt tin and roughly level it out.
- BAKE:Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a crumb or two attached.
- Let the cake cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack (place the cooling rack on top of the cake tin, then flip the whole thing over). Let it cool to room temperature before icing and serving.
- ICING:Mix the icing sugar and orange juice to a thick but pourable consistency and pour over the cooled cake.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
- For best results you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
- All ovens vary so start testing for doneness 2-3 minutes before the recipe suggests.
- Orange juice: If the oranges feel very firm, just put them in the microwave for 20 seconds on high. This will help release the juice. If you don’t have enough juice to make up the 2/3 cup from your oranges, you can make up the difference with orange juice from a carton if you have it, some lemon juice or even just some water.
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