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Mohnkuchen Recipe: The Cake That Calls on You

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

Finding a recipe for mohn kuchen that isn’t written in German was my biggest obstacle in obtaining this amazing cake. Even on YouTube, there are more German video demonstrations than there are English ones, but I’ve now survived the ultimate task of finding the best mohnkuchen recipe, and I’m more than willing to share it with you.

The first time I saw this cake, all I really wanted to do was to sink my teeth into it⁠—it looked so good, my taste buds couldn’t resist. Mohnkuchen called out to me, begging to be tasted. The question was: how do you eat a cake that’s trapped in a picture on your phone? The simple answer is: you make it yourself!

Mohnkuchen is perfect as a dessert and it’s a good way to put to use those poppy seeds you were considering throwing out. All you need is a few more baking ingredients and enough zest to start baking. Speaking of zest, some people choose to add a little orange zest for extra flavor.

German Poppy Seed Cake

In German, the word mohn means “poppy seeds.” Thus, we can safely translate the word mohnkuchen to mean poppy seeds cake⁠—and that’s exactly what these bad boys are. A mohnkuchen is not a true mohnkuchen without its poppy seeds, so the ideal recipe is built around the seeds themselves, which give the cake a rich flavor. They are not an optional ingredient.

This classic version of this soft, moist cake has two layers⁠—the crust (or the dough) and the poppy seed cake filling. However, there can be a third layer of toppings, and when it comes to poppy seed cake toppings, there are a ton of options. Each variation further adds to the intense richness of your mohnkuchen recipe.

The crust and filling layers can also be combined into one layer. This is done by mixing your dough and your filling before baking them. While this tastes delicious too, I personally recommend keeping the layers separated, as nothing looks quite as good as the two-layered poppy seed cake.

How to Prepare Mohnkuchen

What are the odds of finding the best mohnkuchen recipe there is, especially one in English? Well, the good news is, I did the hard work for you in finding it, but before we get into the details, let’s take a moment to review the ingredients.

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 150g of self-raising flour
  • 40g of butter (unsalted or salted, if preferred)
  • 5g of baking powder (about half a tablespoon)
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar (you can opt for white sugar or reduce the quantity to suit your preference)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Almond extract (for flavor)
  • 4 tablespoons of plain yogurt (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons of milk or cream (optional)

Ingredients for the poppy seed filling:

  • 100g of ground poppy seeds (you can use the food processor or the mortar and pestle)
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1/3 cup of cream of wheat
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (or less) of icing sugar
  • 2 egg whites, beat
  • 2 tablespoons of raisins, walnuts or currants (optional)
  • 2 apples, peeled and grated (optional)
  • Rum (optional)

Poppy Seed Cake Recipe

The crust needs to be made first, before the poppy seed filling. To make the crust, follow these steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to about 350°F (or 180°C).
  2. Mix the butter, brown sugar, plain yogurt, and milk (or cream) in a large bowl. Combine until the mixture is creamy and no longer grainy.
  3. Add the egg yolk and the almond extract to the butter mixture and mix well.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder.
  5. Pour the flour and baking powder mixture into the butter mixture in a large bowl and mix. Mix lightly first with a spatula, before using your hands to work the dough. Be careful not to overwork the dough, as this will affect the consistency.
  6. To work effectively on the sticky dough, apply flour to your hands and onto a cutting board or flat, clean place where the dough will be transferred to.  Knead the dough into a ball shape.
  7. You can wrap the dough and allow it to sit for a few minutes before rolling it out.
  8. …Or, you can ditch step 7 and just go ahead and roll your dough. Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll out your dough to a shape that will fit your pan.

What type of pan to use and why: A springform pan or removable-bottom pan works great for this since it can release your cake easily once it’s baked. A normal pan works fine too, though. I prefer a round pan of about 8 inches. This type of pan doesn’t allow for the dough to spread too much so the final consistency is thicker. If you want a thinner consistency, you can use a pan of about 10 inches. Remember in either case to lightly butter your pan.

  1. Transfer your dough into the pan and trim off the excess if it doesn’t fit perfectly.

Tip: If this feels wasteful, you can actually spread the dough while it is in the pan. Use a spoon dipped in flour (because the dough is sticky, remember) to scoop the dough into the pan. Rub a little butter on the dough to reduce the stickiness of the surface and coat a spatula that you will use for spreading in some flour to make the process easier.

  1. Place your pan in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

While your dough is baking, you can get busy making the filling. To make the filling, use the following steps:

  1. Pour the milk into a pot and heat on low until it is hot.
  2. Add in the ground poppy seeds, icing sugar, vanilla extract, grated apple, raisins, cream of wheat and a splash of rum (a little goes a long way).
  3. Cook the mixture for about 5 minutes as you continuously stir it.
  4. Allow the filling to cool before adding the egg whites, otherwise they will cook. Stir the egg whites into the mixture.
  5. Once your crust is finished cooking and has had time to cool, spread the cooled filling over the crust and then spread your toppings over the filling. Put your layered cake into the oven to bake, removing it again when the cake is firmly set. This should take about 45 minutes or less.

Now that your cake is ready, invert your pan to release the cake onto a serving plate, allowing it to cool before serving. If you used a removable-bottom pan, then remove the pan’s bottom from the sides. The baking time might seem long but the wait is definitely worth it.

For extra flavor, you can also introduce a bit of lemon juice into your filling.

Mohnkuchen Toppings to Try

The Mohnkuchen recipe leaves plenty of room for toppings. There are a lot of toppings that go great with poppy seed cake. These toppings are added over the first two layers after the filling goes on the crust. Toppings do more than to add an extra layer of goodness to this cake⁠—they add to the aesthetic value of the presentation as well, especially the streusel topping.

Popular toppings to try on your poppy seed cake include:

  1. Streusel topping. Just so you know, this one would definitely take first place if only for how beautiful it makes your cake. This topping is prepared by mixing flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter to form a crumbly combination. Keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to use it, and sprinkle it across your filling before baking to add a golden brown layer of flavor to your cake.
  2. Honey, water, and almond extract mixture topping.
  3. Sour cream topping: This uses sour cream, sweet cream, flour, either vanilla or lemon extract, sugar, and egg whites. This topping is baked with the cake too. The ingredients are all mixed together except for the egg whites, which are whisked separately and folded in last.
  4. Apricot jam topping: Spread a layer of apricot jam on the filling before baking.
  5. Apricot glaze topping: You don’t have to bake this one. You can add it right before serving.

Mohnkuchen is a recipe you’ll never get tired of. The softness of the cake and dark-blue hue of the poppy seeds cake filling along with the deliciousness of the dessert as a whole will leave you wanting (and baking) more. You can eat your poppy seed cake with whipped cream or ice cream of your favorite flavor. So don’t just sit there⁠—get baking!

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Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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