Light As A Feather Poppy-seed Cake

Poppy Seed Cake on Platter

Hello ALL:

This Light-As-A-Feather Poppy-seed Cake. Made in a traditional tube pan, this cake calls for the addition of Marsala wine to the batter. The wine both moistens the cake and gives it an Italian flavoring, thereby changing its personality from an all-American confection to a robust but light European dessert. 




Yield: 1 10-inch Bundt Cake, About 12 Servings


  •  One ten-inch tube pan*, lightly buttered
  •  2 ⅓ cups cake flour
  • 1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
  • 5 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • ¾ cup Marsala wine
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ cup poppy seeds 
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • Fresh whipped cream and sliced fresh fruit (optional, for serving)
  • A pot of hot tea or coffee (optional, for serving) 


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Line the outside edges of the tube pan with aluminum foil. (This will assure the batter does not leak during the baking process.)

3. Sift together the flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, egg yolks, and Marsala. Gently beat together until the dry ingredients are absorbed into the liquids and the mixture is smooth.

 4. Put the egg whites  in an electric mixer bowl. Beat for a few seconds until the whites are frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat on high-speed until the whites form  peaks. Still beating on high-speed, slowly add the remaining ⅓ cup granulated sugar. Beat until very stiff. Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and add the yolk mixture and the poppy seeds. Beat for just a few seconds until the batter looks blended. Remove from the mixer and use a spatula for a few folds to blend the batter completely. 

5. Pour the batter into the prepared tube pan and bake until set, about one hour. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan, then remove the cake by gently pulling out the center tube and inverting the cake on to a serving platter.

6. Top with confectioner’s sugar for garnish.

This cake is moist and delicious as it is. It  tastes great, too,  accompanied by whipped cream and fresh fruit.  A pot of tea or coffee could be a lovely addition, as well.


A tube pan is a round cake pan with a hollow, cone-shaped center, used for baking ring-shaped cakes. The tube section is removable, making it easier to dislodge the cake from the pan after baking.

This recipe was adapted from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham.