Recipe: Poppy Seed and Plum Cake

Poppy Seeds and Plums are two of my favourite things. Both remind me of my Polish heritage and childhood. Sweet plums are plentiful in Poland and are also in season now here in the UK. If you are lucky enough to have a plum tree in your garden, as we did growing up, you’ll always be on the look out for an extra plum cake recipe to use up your glut.

Poppy Seeds and Plum Cake

In Eastern European baking, poppy seeds are typically ground into a paste, with Makowiec being one of Poland’s most well-loved cakes. Makowiec is a very sweet, nutty-flavoured cake, an egg-enriched yeasted dough is rolled with a poppy seed paste filling before being baked and glazed. If you watch The Great British Bake Off, you may have spotted that Brendan used a poppy seed paste, flavoured with orange zest, lemon, raisins, brandy and orange liqueur to give his Chelsea Bunski’s an Eastern European twist. I have also tried a baked cheesecake with poppy seed paste, and there is a sweet noodle dish called Kluski z Makiem, usually served at Christmas.

Poppy Seeds and Plum Cake

My recipe combines poppy seeds with plums in an easy tray-bake, although the poppy seeds are left to be sprinkled in whole to add texture, rather than being ground into a paste. I served my tea time treat with a fresh plum compote, which was made by cooking the plums very gently with a sprinkle of sugar and a splash of Polish Plum brandy.

Poppy Seed and Plum Cake 

Poppy Seed and Plum Cake

Ren Behan


  • 8-10 English plums stones removed
  • 225 g / one cup caster sugar
  • 4 large free range eggs lightly beaten
  • 240 ml/ one cup sunflower vegetable or mild, light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest
  • 260 g/ two cups self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 tablespoon icing sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to dust
  • Cream or a warm plum compote to serve


  • Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius/Gas Mark 5/375 F. Grease and line a rectangular baking tray with parchment.
  • Chop the fresh plums in half and remove the stones.
  • Put the caster sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl and whisk together well for 3-4 minutes until a pale and fluffy. Add in the zest and mix again.
  • Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold or mix with a metal spoon until all the flour is incorporated. Sprinkle in the poppy seeds and mix again to combine.
  • Pour the batter carefully into the tray and gently press the halved plums into the batter.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the tray bake.
  • Leave to cool. Dust the cake with icing sugar mixed with a teaspoon of cinnamon and serve with cream and/or a warm plum compote.

If you get a chance to make this easy cake, I’m sure it will be quickly devoured, but it will keep in a tin for up to five days.

I’m quite fond of tray-bakes and easy, seasonal bakes, as you may have realised. Here are a few others to try –

Cherry and Almond Tray Bake

Hidden Apple and Honey Cake

Polish Apple Cake – Sharlotka 

I’m also linking this up to Simple and in Season, this month being hosted by Nazima at her new blog, Franglais Kitchen.

What are your favourite seasonal treats?


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  1. Just been having a good old nose through your Polish recipes. Love this cake. Really love plums in baking and I think I might adapt this with a touch of cardamom. What do you think?

  2. This looks lovely Ren and stunning photos too.
    I had a lovely Slovakian pudding of a gnocchi coated in buttery poppy seeds recently. Absolutely delicious.
    Have not made a tray bake for ages – ever since my pan gave up the ghost.

    1. Oh that sounds wonderful, yes the Poles have a very similar dish made with hand-made noodles and poppy seeds, I haven’t tried it for years. My mum’s trusty tray-bake recipe strikes again! I never tire of it x

  3. I love the look of this Ren. I have a punnet of plums on the side which I’m debating whether to bake with or just get on eat, I think baking may win!

    1. Ooh hope they made it into the traybake! x

    1. Thank you – hope it inspires. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. I do love your traybakes ren, and the inspired combinations of flavours in them. I have an underused mermaid cake tin ready to make this soon as I can get my hand on some plums!

    1. Ooh yes get out the Mermaid! Good solid bake ware 🙂

  5. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. Totally up my street with the whole plum, poppyseed vanilla thing. You are a traybake goddess, Ren. And I love Katie at the Muffin Myth’s idea about whizzing up poppyseed paste in your fabby Vitamix. So strange what Sally says about poppyseeds being illegal in Dubai. I kind of thought when I heard that previously that it was apocryphal, but obviously not.

    1. Thank you – yes can’t wait for the Vitamix! I’ll be whizzing away. Shame Sally can’t get any poppy seeds in Dubai! Have loved some of your recent posts, too x

  6. oh this looks just gorgeous, I wouldn’t even think of it as an effort to use up a glut. can def go for some of that in the afternoon, esp with a cup of tea, yum!

    1. Thanks Shu Han, hope you are keeping well x

  7. Ren, is there a Polish version of Rumtopf? I spent a while in Germany, where Rumtopf was a popular way of preserving Summer fruit – including plums. I loved it!

    1. Ooh not with rum, but we do make Plum Vodka called Sliwowica which is delicious! I have been sent a bottle of rum today though oddly enough so I’m off to fill my kilner jar with some fruits and rum – will let you know how it turns out in two months time!

  8. Love the look of this cake. Similar in some ways to Diana Henry’s version in Roast Figs Sugar Snow but your version looks lighter. Traybakes are my new favourite baking technique too.

    1. Do you mean the Cafe Sperl’s Plum Squares recipe? It has a glaze over the top and the plums look more visible, might try that next time!

  9. This looks beautiful Ren! I love traybakes and the poppy seeds remind me of pastries of the Czech republic that I ate as a child on holiday there. Your pictures are gorgeous!
    Lovely seeing you again at FBC!

    1. Ooh yes lots of Eastern European pastries incorporate poppy seeds and I’m just at the beginning of my journey of discovery – would love to try some Czech cakes. Lovely to see you too xx

  10. Gorgeous cake! I bet you could grind your own poppyseed paste with your new vitamix! Congrats on the win, I am *extremely* jealous. It was lovely to have met you, albeit very briefly, at FBC. Hopefully we’ll meet again next year 🙂

    1. Hi Katie, what a good idea!! I will do just that when it arrives! Lovely to have met you too, I appreciate how lucky I was to have won x

  11. Beautiful cake, love how each slice is studded with a plum!

    1. Thank you Hannah, yes, each little square should have a nice juicy plum in it 🙂 Or you can just go freestyle!

    1. Thank you Laura. Hope you enjoyed your visit to FBC, sorry it was so quick!

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