This poppy seed cake is elevated with rich honey and crunchy walnuts. Topped with cream cheese and dulce de leche frosting, you’ll have a hard time not going back for seconds (and thirds).
Every Ukrainian can attest to the wonders of honey cakes. From classic Russian honey cake to jam layered honey cake, we love to elevate our baking with the rich, spicy, and sweet syrup. It adds a wonderful chewiness to baked goods and boasts a higher fructose content. Why not make things a bit extra sweet?
The texture of this honey walnut poppy seed cake is as decadent as the flavor itself. The nuts and poppy seeds bring a nice crunch, while the honey cake melts in your mouth. What’s better? Despite its impressive presentation, the cake is quite simple to make.
Although the cake invokes the flavors of fall, it can be served throughout the year. Oftentimes, it makes an appearance at Easter celebrations or summer BBQs.
How to Make Honey Walnut Poppy Seed Cake
Making this cake requires just a handful of ingredients. Bonus: Most of the work is done by a hand or stand mixer!
- Make the Cake Batter: With a stand or hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar. Add honey and beat again until well-combined. In a separate dish, combine lemon juice and baking soda. Fold the into the egg and sugar mixture. With a baking spatula, fold the flour in by thirds, taking extra caution not to over mix.
- Add Walnuts and Poppy Seeds: Divide the batter into two, equal parts. Roughly chop the walnuts. Add walnuts to one portion of batter and poppy seeds to the other.
- Bake the Cakes: Place poppy seed batter and walnut batter into cake tins. Bake until a toothpick is inserted in the center and comes out clean. Slice each cake into two equal parts, creating four individual layers (two poppy seed layers and two walnut layers).
Where do I buy poppy seeds? You can find poppy seeds at most grocery stores. However, buying them in bulk online is typically much cheaper.
- Soak Cake Layers in Sweet Cream: Whisk together heaving whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk. Soak each layer of cake with the sweet cream.
- Make the Cake Cream: Mix softened cream cheese and dulce de leche together. Pouring slowly, add extra cold whipping cream, beating just until it reaches stiff peaks.
- Frost the Cake: Place cake cream between each layer, stacking as you go. Frost the outside of the cake with the remaining cream.
- Let the Cake Set Overnight: Place the cake in the refrigerator overnight to set.
Invest in a Cake Container: If you love baking fancy cakes, it’s time to invest in an airtight cake storage container. Not only does this keep your cake from absorbing other smells in your fridge, it also makes sure it stays intact. It’s also wonderful for transporting.
Tips for making the Best Cake
Find some tips to help you bake the best honey walnut poppy seed cake below:
- Use extra-cold heavy whipping cream for cake cream. When making your frosting, make sure to use extra-cold heaving whipping cream. Cold cream creates the fluffiest frosting! In a pinch, you can pop the container in the freezer for a couple of minutes to lower the temperature quickly.
- Don’t over mix the cake cream. The more you mix the cream, the flatter it gets. Once it reaches stiff peaks, stop mixing immediately.
- Let the cake set overnight. Refrigerating the cake overnight helps to keep it sturdy. It also enhances the flavors.
- Invest in an icing spatula for frosting. To do a bakery-worthy frosting job, invest in an icing spatula.
Nut Chopping Hack: Instead of chopping nuts with a knife, place them into a plastic storage bag. Release any excess air. Using a meat tenderizer, pound the bag until the nuts break apart into small bits.
Storing Honey Walnut Poppy Seed Cake
- Refrigerating: Store the cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. As mentioned above, a container specifically for leftover cake works best.
- Freezing: Freezing an entire honey walnut poppy seed cake is not recommended. However, you can prep and freeze the sponge cake ahead of time. Do so by laying the cake on a lined baking sheet and popping it into the freezer. Once both layers are frozen, wrap them in plastic wrap and place them into a freezer-safe plastic bag. Make sure to remove all the excess air from the bag to prevent freezer burn.
How can I make the cake less sweet?
Make the cake less sweet by omitting the soaking cream entirely.
Can I substitute the walnuts for other nuts?
You can substitute walnuts for pecans, hazelnuts, or almonds.
How do I prevent the sponge cake from sinking in the middle?
Prevent your sponge cake from sinking in the middle by preheating your oven before baking and resisting the urge to open the oven door. Every time you open the oven door, you let a rush of cold air in and alter the temperature.
Why is my frosting runny?
Frosting turns runny due to two main reasons: over mixing and not using extra-cold heaving whipping cream.
Other Tasty Cake Recipes
- Drunken Cherry Cake – Rich, cherry liqueur cake
- Fruit & Prune Lumberjack Cake – Slightly sweet fruit cake
- Golden Key Cake – Hazelnut and dulce de leche cake
- Jam Layered Honey Cake – Tart honey cake
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup honey
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup poppy seeds
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 3 tbsp condesned milk
- 16 oz cream cheese softened at room temperature
- 1 cn dulce de leche
- 2 cup whipping cream very cold
- Beat eggs with sugar until the mixture triples in volume. Add honey and beat until combined.
- Into a small dish, combine lemon juice and baking soda. Fold into the egg, sugar, and honey mixture.
- Using a spatula, fold in flour in thirds. Make sure not to over mix.
- Chop walnuts into tiny pieces.
- Divide the dough into two equal parts. Stir poppy seeds into one part and walnuts into the other.
- Place batter in a 9-inch cake pans. Bake each cake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
- Slice each cake into two equal parts, creating four total layers. Combine whipping cream with condensed milk. Soak each layer with the sweetened cream and set them aside.
- Beat softened cream cheese with dulce de leche.
- Into the cream cheese and dulce de leche mixture, add ultra-cold whipping cream and continue beating until the cream reaches stiff peaks.
- Spread cream on top of each cake layer.
- Decorate the cake with remaining cream.
- Allow the cake to set in the refrigerator over night. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
I was thinking od using black current jam in the middle layer...what do you think? Would it go well with the flavors?
Hi Linda, That actually sounds quite tasty! If you give that a go, let me know the result! Way to go on the creativity! Happy Holidays!
Sorry! Just that if a few more questions...should I still drizzle or leave that middle layer to just the jam? Also when you drizzle...is it pretty soaked? Before you pour the batters in, how do your prepare the pans?
Hi Linda, I put a good amount of cream in the layers but not to where it's dripping out of the cake. You can butter the pans for easy removal. Good luck and Happy Holidays!
Thanks Natalya!! It's our Easten European creativity!lol!
I made this cake today for my husband’s birthday, and was amazing. I cut a little on sugar 3/4 cups instead of 1 cup a d I added 1 tsp of vanilla in the frosting. Other then that I followed every step and it was easy to make and super delicious. My husband appreciated different layers and the frosting. I was a little concerned about soaking the layers with added condensed milk, but I am glad I did, it didn’t add more sweetness, but it enhanced the flavour. Thank you for the great recipe, it’s our new favourite birthday cake now.
Hi Karina! That's so wonderful to hear! Thank you so much for sharing your experience! So glad to hear that the cake worked out well for you! Enjoy!
I made this cake yesterday, practicing for my sons birthday party. I wasn’t sure how you measure your flour? Do you just scoop up with the measuring cup or do you spoon flour into your measuring cup? I read that you use Canadian flour, so if you scoop up with your measuring cup, would I need more flour when using King Arthur flour, since scooping with measuring cup gives you more flour than if you spoon your flour into your measuring cup?
Hey Julia! Generally the best rule of thumb for measuring flour is to fluff up the flour a bit, spoon flour into the measuring cup, and then level it off with a knife or something flat. I hope this helps! I do sometimes use Canadian flour but also really love using Bob's Red Mill flour! This flour measuring tip should work for all flours though.
Hi Natalya. I am about to assemble the cake but I am not sure if I have to add the whipping cream in liquid form to the cream cheese and condensed milk or already whipped..
Hi friend, thanks for the question. You add the heavy whipping cream in with the cream cheese and condensed milk in liquid form (make sure the heavy whipping cream is extra cold). Then, you beat it until it reaches stiff peaks. Let me know if you have any questions and how your cake turns out.
I'm not a huge fan of sweetened condensed milk, and I think that with the dulce du leche is all going to be sweet on sweet on sweet.
I was thinking of substituting bourbon for the sweetened condensed milk as part of the soaking liquid...so a sort of bourbon whipped cream to soak the cakes in. Do you think that will ruin the integrity of the cakes?
Hey Anthony! I personally haven't tried soaking the cake layers with liquors like bourbon, but in theory I think it could work. I'm not sure how strong the liquor would come through, so I would recommending being cautious with how much you use to avoid overpowering the other flavors. If you wanted to cut down on sweetness you could soak the layers with only the heavy cream OR skip soaking the layers entirely. The nice thing about this recipe is that the frosting has cream cheese in it, which means it's not so cloyingly sweet like buttercream often is. So the cream cheese will help offset the sweetness of the dulce de leche, as will the nuts and poppyseed in the cake. If you go for the bourbon substitute, do let me know how it turns out! I'm intrigued!
Hi Natalya - that cake is amazing! It was a huge hit and the whiskey cream enhanced the earthiness of the poppyseeds and the walnuts. It really worked well.
Hey Anthony- thanks for commenting back and letting us know! So glad you enjoyed this cake.
The cake is really yummy. I’ ve made it before but now hoping to bake in smaller pans. Should I half the recipe if using a 6” pan ?
Hi, Larisa! You can follow the recipe as is and use two 6-inch pans, it will just give you a larger/taller cake. I'd also recommend checking the center of cake to make sure it doesn't need a few more minutes of baking time since the layers are larger. Hope this helps! Enjoy!
What a delicious cake. I made this for my book reading club and we enjoyed it with some hot coffee. It was the best part of the meal!
I am o glad to hear that, thank you for taking the time to share your feedback!
This cake was wonderful, I made it for my husband for his birthday but I ended up eating more of it than he did, I could not stop eating it.
Hard to stop right?! 😊 Glad you enjoyed it!
I absolutely love the honey walnut combo so I had two slices of this cake! It's AMAZING!
Haha, it is addicting!! Glad you enjoyed it!
Hi! I just came across your website & would love to try out your amazing recipes!!
Btw, What can i replace dulce de leche with as i cannot find it where i live?
Also, soaking the cake in sweetened whipping cream, did you mean like drizzle them on the cake? Or like literally taking a bowl big enough for the cake to sit inside & soak up the liquid?
Thanks in advance 💕
Hi Suzanne, I have a recipe on how to make dulce de leche, it's made using condensed milk. This is the recipe: https://momsdish.com/easy-ins…
Soaking means drizzling the cake, yes, as you would see in the first picture. I hope you enjoyed the cake, let me know if you have any more questions!
thank you for your promt response!
afew other questions before i attempt:
1. im wondering if i would like to make the cake less sweet, by reducing the sugar amount, will it affect the quality/ texture of the cake? im thinking of reducing by half since there will be 1 cup of honey anyways
2. also for the liquid sauce, is it okay if i omit it? since i am not a fan of sweets. i’ll just drizzle the whipping cream on its own.
3. last question, if i only have 8” tin, can i use this exact recipe or do i need to adjust accordingly?
i dont mind having a taller cake if thats the only difference
Thank you so much for your time!! 💕
Hi Suzanne, anytime!
1. I think it will affect the texture of the cake. I haven't tried it but I would think it would. You can try reducing it slightly.
2. Yes, you can do whipping cream on its own, you just want to soak up the layers.
3. 8 inch should work just fine.
Enjoy it! Please share your feedback when you try it!
Hi there , looks delicious and I want to try making this but what is liquid sauce?
Hey Carmen, any coffee sweetener or even condensed milk would work. Enjoy this cake!
I’ve made this cake like 6 times already and коржи never turn out ? they always fall in the middle. It’s so frustrating I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I follow the recipe to a T! Help?
I faced a similar situation before and noticed one thing... always preheat oven to 375 degrees and when your pour your batter leave more in the center... I use a silicone spatula and just leave the center higher then the rest... then it always turns out perfect! Promise!
Oh interesting tip. I will have to try it, thanks for sharing!
Tanya, I am so sorry. Very patient baker for sure, 6 times!!! I am wondering about a few things. Do you open the door while baking? Best not to open it. Also maybe the flour you use is effecting it. I am using Canadian flour for all my baking, I would recommend adding just a bit more flour if you are using regular store bought.
Yes, I don’t bake much, but I only have Canadian Flour in my pantry.
Hey, yes, we love using it for sure.
The cake is so good I decided not to give up. I’ll try different flour next time?
Good luck!!!! Hope you can perfect it!
Not the greatest baker?
I made this cake a few months ago, planning to make it again for Thanksgiving this year 😉
Love it!! thanks for sharing your photo. SO pretty!!!
This cake is so delicious. I brought it to a get together yesterday and everyone Loved it! Mmmm. Cannot wait to make again.
I did have a issue with it cooking for my pan was not spring form and not tall enough. But it still turned out good. Thanks for the recipe!
Olga, thank you for sharing your feedback. I love reading comments from readers, especially sweet comments like yours 🙂
Hi Natasha, what do you mean by "sweetened whipping cream?" Also in the ingredients it says "whipping cream for soaking" and "liquid sauce for soaking"?
You sweeten the whipping cream with chocolate sauce. That's what you would use for soaking.
Hi Natalya, i wanna try to make this cake but confused on this part as well... what type of chocolate sauce are you using?
One that you would use for ice cream topping or coffee.
Thank you! I made it and turned out amazing!
Wow!!! For real so amazing!
how did you the chocolate around it like that?
I think you can draw this on partchment paper and fold around cake right before chocolate gets firm. YouTube may have some videos.
I've make this cake a couple times now it's delicious. One thing I struggle with is dividing the dough:/ any advice? Please:)
I would use a measuring cup this way it's equal. 🙂
Surprised my friend with this cake for her 21st birthday celebration! It was so delicious! Thank you for the recipe!
wow, it looks so perfect. I wish I was celebrating with you guys. Oh and 21 is so young!
Very quick and delicious! Everyone loved the cake! Thx!
Wow, what a great looking cake. I love the look. I think I need to bake this cake.
Did you grind the poppy seeds to a finer texture or did you use the poppy seeds just like you bought them from the store?
Thank you for replying. I made this and it was a scrumptious!! I really mean that (see photo for proof ?) thanks so much for sharing! Next time I make it, which I promise will be soon, I want to try soaking the layers with some brewed coffee (hubby loves anything coffee). I loved your simple, yet elegant, cake decor so I copied that. Thanks again. I know upkeeping your site is hard work but it's beautiful!!
Wow, looks so impressive! Your cream looks white, was it different?
No, I had an issue with the dulche de leche. I cooked it for 2 1/2 hrs on low so I think I didn't have it high enough. When I opened the can, it wasn't the dark carmel color that it should've been 🙂 I used it anyways though.
Still looks amazing! Love it!
I use whole poppy seeds.
is that like melted chocolate?
Bottled chocolate, here is an example https://www.google.com/search…
what is liquid chocolate? Do i make it or buy it?
Sorry Olga, its actually chocolate sauce. lol.. I am not sure what I was thinking.
do you need to cook the mak before putting it in or is it just the raw one?
I used raw poppy seeds.
How do u prevent the cake from having little tiny pockets of uncooked flour in it after you bake it? I had this problem once when i tried to make a similar cake and the directions said to be careful not to over mix the dough. I thought I had mix it enough, but I still had the pockets of flour after it was baked.
I would recommend sifting flour, if you have that issue. You don't want to over mix the dough but the same time make sure to scoop all the way from the bottom to make all flour is scooped out.
This cake looks seriously delicious! I can almost taste it!
Thanks Natasha! We loved it with my sister ::)
quick question what do you mean with the sweetened whipping cream. and where do u apply the liquid chocolate?
Yes, combine the chocolate and whipping cream together
Can I ask, how long did you beat cream , as an example (cream cheese with sgyshenka and whip cream)?
Usually under 5 minutes but it also depends on speed and mixer you are using. Your best bet is to beat until everything is smooth.