Apr 24 2012


I tend to glance at the 10-day weather forecast more often than is healthy. I know that the meteorologists at weather.com are making educated guesses and that weather isn't an exact science, but I still like to pretend I'm prepared for whatever weather is coming my way.

Moving to Portland has thrown a kink into my weather preparedness. I've described Portland's weather to people who don't live here as, "It's Portland-ing". Portland-ing takes many forms, including days where it literally pours straight through until 5 pm, whereupon the sun suddenly appears, resulting in spectacular sunsets and renewed energy. Other days alternate between mist and sun. But the best kind of Portland-ing weather are days like today (and Saturday and Sunday): baby blue sky, light breeze, warm sun, not a shred of humidity. It's weather fit for chatting on the stoop, relaxing in the backyard, or gardening and yardwork, as we did.

When I saw that the 10 day forecast included three of these perfect 80 degree days, I decided to bake something that would satiate us through mowing, weeding, planting and other outdoor activities without slowing us down. Something filling and refreshing. Knowing that Denmark has summer days not that different from Portland's, I turned to the Nordic Bakery cookbook for inspiration.

I decided to bake an Orange and Poppy Seed cake to take advantage of the last of citrus' peak season. This cake uses Nordic Bakery's simple cake recipe; you stir the orange and poppy seed in at the end. This simplicity makes the cake recipe a perfect base for nearly anything you want to add to it.

The finished cake's consistency has changed over the past 3 days. When I first removed it from the oven, so hungry that I was barely able to let it stand for even 5 minutes to cool, the cake was crumbly and moist, airy even. The next day, the cake was denser and the orange flavor more apparent. Yesterday, after hours of yardwork, as we sat on the front porch eating pieces of the cake, I noticed that the cake was sturdier than ever, though no less moist.

When you scan this recipe, don't be shocked by the amount of butter. Yes, it's the most prominent ingredient. But it's a butter cake--the quantity of butter ensures that even as the outer layer changes density, the inner core remains moist. The cookbook shares that this makes an excellent cake to freeze, if you want to make several batches at once.

Orange and Poppy Seed Cake

Recipe courtesy of the Nordic Bakery Cookbook

Makes 8-10 slices

Use either a bundt pan or an 18-inch springform cake pan


Basic cake:

300 grams of softened, unsalted butter

250 grams of caster sugar

3 teaspoons of vanilla extract

5 eggs

3 teaspoons of baking powder

300 g of plain flour

Add ins:

zest of 1 orange

juice of 1/2 an orange

1 tablespoon of poppy seeds


1) Preheat the oven to 350.

2) Put the butter and sugar in either the mixing bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attached or into a large mixing bowl with an electric handheld whisk. Cream until pale and fluffy (3-5 minutes).

3) Stir in the vanilla extract. Then, add the eggs one-by-one, whisking after each addition.

4) In a separate bowl, sift the baking power and flour together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

5) Fold in the orange zest, juice, and poppy seeds until well mixed.

6) Spoon the mixture into the cake pan and after all of the batter is in the pan, smooth the top with the back of a spoon.

7) Bake for around 50 minutes, until the cake is firm and a tester in the center comes out clean. Let cool. Enjoy!