In keeping with social distancing, baking with what I have, considering what you might have, thinking up swaps, and trying to make something Easter-appropriate, I present to you this Almond Poppy Seed Coffee Cake. It’s made with the last of a container of sour cream I found in my fridge, poppy seeds leftover from Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, and sliced almonds from Almond Boterkoek. The rest of the ingredients are baking basics/things I normally have around. Oh, and it only requires one egg—score!As far as Easter goes, this is not my norm. This cake is not pastel or coconut or coated in my nemesis, poured fondant, but it feels decidedly springlike anyway. I mean, I know we eat almond things at other times of year, but doesn’t Almond Poppy Seed Coffee Cake scream springtime Sunday morning?The cake is just my usual coffee/crumb cake base, but perfumed with almond extract and studding with crunchy poppy seeds. It’s super moist and tender thanks to sour cream, milk and softened butter.I skipped the traditional coffee cake crumble here because I felt like it was competing with the poppy seeds—too much crunch, ya know? Instead, I’ve taken the easy way out and topped this sucker with sliced almonds, put it in the oven and called it a day.
You might think you’ll miss the crumble, but once this cake is baked and golden, I promise you’ll be like “Crumble who?” Or, more likely, you’ll be too busy eating soft almond poppy seed cake to care.As with every recipe I’m posting right now, Almond Poppy Seed Coffee Cake has plenty of room for substitutions and swaps.
-don’t have poppy seeds? Leave them out. You won’t have same crispy, crunchy texture, but your coffee cake will still be delicious.
-if you don’t have a round cake pan, use a square pan. I haven’t tried it, but I have a sneaking suspicion this will work in a loaf pan too, though you may want to let it bake for more like 50-60 minutes.
-don’t have both granulated and brown sugars? You can use all of one or the other. This will change the color and flavor of the cake a little in either direction, but not in a bad way.
-no almond extract? Well, your cake won’t be Almond Poppy Seed without it, but it also will be fine. If you have citrus at home, feel free to zest a lemon (or whatever) into the sugar. If you leave it plain though, I promise it will still be good.
-no vanilla? Not ideal, of course, but it can be left out.
-our of sour cream? Use yogurt. No yogurt? Swap all the sour cream & milk in the recipe for 1 1/4 cup buttermilk. For DIY buttermilk, see here.
-I bake almost exclusively with whole milk, but feel free to sub whatever you have. With the quantity of sour cream in this recipe, plant-based milks should work without issue.
-if you don’t have sliced almonds for the top, use slivered or chopped almonds, or leave them off entirely. If you feel like your cake needs more adornment, make a glaze or sift confectioners sugar over the top.
That’s every substitution I can think of, but feel free to ask questions in the comments if you think of another. “Make it work” is the name of the game this Easter.
Almond Poppy Seed Coffee Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake, about 10 servings
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
2/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, poppy seeds, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy. Mix in egg, sour cream, vanilla and almond extracts; mixture will be a bit lumpy. Mix in half the dry ingredients followed by half the milk. Add remaining dry ingredients, followed by remaining milk.
Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Use your fingers to scatter sliced almonds over the top. Tap full pan a few times on the countertop to release any large air bubbles. Bake cake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool 20 minutes in the pan on a rack. Run a thin, flexible knife around the edge of the pan before inverting onto a plate to release. Revert cake onto a serving plate. Cake may be served warm or room temperature. Serve.
Leftover cake will keep well at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.