Michal’s Poppyseed Cake

Nechama Rivlin

2 hours + cooling time

10-in / 24-26-cm round springform pan

Poppyseed cake on a brown and tan platter atop a lace tablecloth

Photography: Dan Peretz, Styling: Nurit Kariv

Photography: Dan Peretz, Styling: Nurit Kariv

Nechama Rivlin recorded her recipes on index cards that she stored in boxes. At the top of many of the recipe cards, particularly those for baking, she would note the creator of the recipe. In that way, titles like “Michal’s poppyseed cake” or “Anat’s chocolate mousse” entered the family lexicon and the collective memory, passing from home to home.

This cake is exceptionally moist courtesy of the apples in the batter and an orange syrup that’s drizzled on top. If you prefer a slightly dryer cake, reduce the syrup amount by half.


  • For the Cake:
  • 1 ½ cups / 200 gr poppyseeds
  • 6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 cup / 200 gr sugar, divided
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup / 45 gr  flour
  • ½ cup / 125 ml corn, soy, or canola oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1 lb / ½ kg green apples (such as granny smith), peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch/ ½-cm cubes
  • For the syrup:
  • ¼  cup / 60 ml  fresh squeezed orange juice
  • ¼  cup  / 55 gr sugar
  • For the chocolate cream:
  • 3 tablespoons / 45 gr  butter 
  • ⅔ cup / 160 gr semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons / 45 ml water
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 ml brandy


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C and oil a 10-in / 24-26-cm round springform pan. Using a spice or coffee grinder, finely grind the poppyseeds in three ½-cup batches until darker in color and slightly moist and crumbly in texture. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Whip the egg whites on high speed until foamy, 1 minute. Slowly add ½ cup of sugar and the pinch of salt until stiff peaks form (that remain in the bowl when you turn it upside down), 3-4 minutes.
  2. Whip the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is pale yellow and doubled in volume, 4-5 minutes. Drizzle in the oil slowly while beating on medium-high speed until the mixture is uniform and slightly glossy, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the flour and mix slowly to combine, add the poppyseeds and beat slowly to evenly disperse throughout the mixture. Add the apples and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. 
  4. Fold a third of the whipped egg whites gently into the mixture. Repeat this twice more. 
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, bake for 50 minutes until puffed and dark golden brown; remove from the oven. 
  6. While the cake bakes, prepare the syrup: Bring the orange juice and sugar to a boil in a small pot and cook for 3 minutes until slightly thickened. 
  7. Prepare the chocolate cream: Whisking constantly, melt the butter and chocolate in a medium bowl over a pot of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the pot, add the water and brandy and whisk until the liquids are absorbed and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Let the mixture cool for at least 20 minutes (you can pop it in the refrigerator to help speed it along), until it reaches a texture that is looser than Nutella.  
  8. Icing the cake: After the cake is removed from the oven, use a toothpick to poke holes evenly in the cake. Unmold the sides of the springform, invert a large plate over the top of the cake and flip the cake onto the plate. Pour the syrup over the surface (formerly the bottom) of the cake, spreading it with a spatula until it’s evenly absorbed. Cool for 10 minutes. Then spread the chocolate cream evenly on top and around the sides of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight before serving.

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