Orange Poppy Seed Cake

I have been dreaming about this cake for a while.

Fluffy cream cheese frosting, the fresh and zesty flavor of oranges, the speckles of poppy seeds-all whirled together in a dreamy light vanilla cake. Sigh. Who loves cake this much?

I came across the idea when I was searching for unique ways to use the oranges that my dad had sent up from Florida. Many versions were made into dense pound cakes-which were probably delicious, but not what I was going for. I imagined a cake that was light and fluffy…perhaps so I didn’t feel so guilty. Never mind the fact that it’s still a cake!

I have tested countless versions of vanilla cake, added and removed ingredients, and after many attempts (and a lot of sampling)…voilà! A dream come true! A perfect, entirely homemade Orange Poppy Seed Cake that is a Sneaks and Sweets original.

I am quite proud, actually! This is one of the tastiest cakes I have ever had.

You’ll find yourself not wanting to cut such a thing of beauty…


I mean, look how the glaze gives the cake a burst of beautiful orange color (and added flavor).


But then you will remember what is hidden behind the beautiful fluffy piles of cream cheese frosting.

And you will dive in…and devour.


So here you have it…


Orange Poppy Seed Cake 
Makes 4-8″ layers or 3-9″ layers

3-1/2 cups cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
1-1/3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla)
Zest of 1 orange (1-2 tablespoons depending on the size of the orange)
3 tablespoons poppy seeds

1. Prepare 4-8″pans with shortening and flour. Line with parchment paper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Sift together cake flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugar, eggs, and butter until fluffy.
4. Add sour cream, vanilla, orange zest, and poppy seeds.
5. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to the cake batter, making sure you end with flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
6. Divide batter evenly among layers.
7. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
8. Let cakes cool in pans for ten minutes, then remove from pans and place onto a cookie sheet to cool.

Orange Glaze:
Zest and juice of one orange
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla)
Confectionery sugar, enough to create a runnier glaze

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
*this will make more than you need-there is nothing worse than decorating a cake and running out of frosting. I have no trouble finding ways to use up extra cream cheese frosting. It also freezes well.

12 oz softened cream cheese (1-80z package, and another cut in half)
12 tablespoons butter (1 stick, plus 4 more tablespoons), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla)
pinch of salt
1 full bag (2 pounds), plus one half of a bag of confectionery sugar (total of three pounds)
Milk or heavy cream

Cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add vanilla and pinch of salt. Slowly add confectionery sugar. Add enough milk or cream until you reach a desired consistency.


Brush the top of each cake layer with orange glaze and frost with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting.
Stack layers.
Crumb coat assembled cake and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
Use remaining frosting to decorate/frost as desired.
Drizzle the top of cake with orange glaze.

Enjoy! It won’t last long.


2 Responses to Orange Poppy Seed Cake

  1. Lauren November 21, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    I’m confused? How may tins to prepare? Is it 4 tins or 2 tins and then you slice the cakes in half?
    And how much is a packet of confectioners sugar?
    There are many different sized bags.

    • sneaksandsweets9 December 12, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

      I used 4-8″ pans. You could slice the cake in half and use two tins, but that’s always a hassle to me. Sugar comes in two pound bags. So you’ll need one and a half bags (or three pounds).

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