This moist cake is delicious and rich even without its chocolate ganache topping.
When you're using this amount of poppy seeds, it's cost-effective to buy in bulk rather than go for the jars in the supermarket spice aisle. So look for them in Mediterranean markets, at Penzys Spices and through online purveyors.
The seeds take on a different texture and fruitier flavor when they are ground in a dedicated spice or coffee grinder. Sending them through twice creates a moist, dense consistency (almost like that of a dry tapenade).
The cake does not rise very high when it's baked in a 9-inch pan. It can be baked it in a 7-inch springform pan for 75 to 85 minutes.
- For the cake
- 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan, at room temperature
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup flour, plus more for the pan
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup plain unsweetened applesauce
- 7 ounces (about 2 cups) twice-ground poppy seeds (see headnote)
- For the ganache (optional)
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Pinch kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat on medium speed for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the flour and the baking powder in a small bowl.
Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the butter and applesauce, then gradually add the flour mixture and the twice-ground poppy seeds to form a very wet batter. Pour into the pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only crumbs. Transfer the pan to a wire rack; let the cake cool completely before removing the springform ring.
For the chocolate ganache, if using: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
Combine the cream and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, then immediately pour over the chocolate. Wait for 1 minute, then stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and dark. Let cool to room temperature.
Transfer the cooled cake to a serving plate. Spread the ganache over the cake, letting the chocolate spill over the edges if desired. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
From Chevy Chase caterer Vered Guttman.
Tested by Vered Guttman and Bonnie S. Benwick.
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