Naked Orange Poppy Seed Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

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Prep 45min (+30min cooling time per batch)Bake 45minMakes 12-14 serves

This pretty cake, with its heavenly orange blossom-scented frosting, is currently one of my favourite 'special occasion' cakes – particularly for birthday celebrations. The cake layers are baked in two batches but if you are lucky enough to have four cake pans that can fit in your oven all at once, feel free to make the mixture in one lot and bake them all together.


Melted butter, to grease

Orange poppy seed cake layers
3 oranges
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
125g (½ cup) sour cream
250g butter, cubed, at room temperature
300g (1⅓ cups) caster sugar
4 eggs
350g (2⅓ cups) plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder

Candied orange rind
3 oranges
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
250ml (1 cup) water

Orange blossom water buttercream
250g butter, at room temperature
375g (3 cups) icing sugar, sifted
3-4 teaspoons orange blossom water (or to taste)


    1. To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease two shallow 20cm (base measurement) round cake tins with melted butter and line the bases with rounds of non-stick baking paper.
    2. Finely grate the rind from the oranges and set aside. Juice the fruit and measure 125ml (½ cup), reserving the rest for another use. Divide the juice evenly between two medium bowls. Add half the poppy seeds and half the sour cream to each. Set aside.
    3. Use an electric mixer to beat 125g of the butter, 150g of the sugar and half the orange rind until pale and creamy. Add 2 of the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Sift together 175g of the flour and 1½ teaspoon of the baking powder. Fold half the flour mixture through the butter mixture until just combined. Fold through one quantity of the poppy seed mixture and then the remaining flour mixture until just combined.
    4. Divide the cake mixture evenly between the prepared cake tins and use the back of a metal spoon to smooth the surfaces. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes come out clean. Stand in the tins for 5 minutes before turning onto wire racks, topside down, to cool (this will take about 30 minutes).
    5. Repeat with the remaining poppy seed mixture and ingredients to make two more cake layers.
    6. Meanwhile, to make the candied orange rind, use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind from the oranges in wide strips. Use a small sharp knife to remove any white pith from the rind. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange rind strips and bring to a simmer. Simmer, without stirring, for 10-15 minutes or until the rind is translucent. Use a fork to transfer the rind from the syrup to a wire rack. Set aside. Reserve the syrup.
    7. To make the orange blossom water buttercream, use an electric mixer to beat the butter, icing sugar and orange blossom water in a medium bowl until very pale and creamy. Cover and set aside at room temperature.
    8. To assemble the cake, place a cake layer, topside down, on a serving plate or cake stand. Spread with a little of the buttercream and then top with another layer of cake. Continue to layer with some of the remaining buttercream and cake layers, finishing with a cake layer. Spread a thin layer of buttercream around the outside of the cake so that the cake layers show through. Spread the remaining buttercream on top, swirling as desired. Decorate with the candied orange rind and drizzle with some of the remaining syrup just before serving.

    Baker's Tips

    • This cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

    This recipe is from Anneka's SBS Food online column, Bakeproof: Citrus.

    CLICK HERE for more Bakeproof recipes.

    Photography by Alan Benson.