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Poppy Seed Surprise Cakes!

July 25, 2014

There's a surprise inside!

There’s a surprise inside!

There is a little Swiss cake shop in suburban Melbourne that I used to frequent many years (almost 30!) ago. On a Google search, I was delighted to find out that it is still there AND owned by the same gorgeous couple, Helen & Franz.  Along with their sons Sascha and Marcus, (whom I remember as toddlers) they take pride in making traditional Swiss & German pastries & cakes that are the best you will find outside of Europe.

It was Franz who taught me the secret of making a true butter puff in his Mille-Feuille. It was Franz who made my first wedding, previous life wedding croquembouche all those years ago before they came in vogue. And my favourite pastry in his window was his nut twist loaf.

I often reminisce over his strawberry tartlets and chocolate truffles. Helen’s crème patisserie was the most amazing silky & creamy custard I ever tasted. And I was always intrigued that they often made their cakes in a thin pastry shell.

Helen and her boys

Helen and her boys in their Hilltop Cake shop in Mont Albert, Melbourne

When I make my poppy-seed brioche I think of the Hilltop cake shop* and have fond memories of my friends there. But, now grain-free, I rarely make my brioche recipe, although writing this has inspired me to convert the recipe to gluten-free and revisit it!

Poppy seeds provide quite a number of health benefits. They have an excellent source of minerals like magnesium, zinc and calcium. The fatty acids present, aid digestion and the linoleic acid helps protect the heart. Apparently, poppy seeds are used to treat insomnia although I haven’t quite benefited from this application! Very high in polyunsaturated oils, they are vulnerable to oxidation and easily turn rancid, so buy small quantities fresh and keep them in the freezer.

I have used the filling from my poppy-seed brioche as a surprise garnish in my cupcakes. I think it works! It adds a nutty, almost earthy flavour that tempers the sweetness of the cake. To make this recipe nut-free, substitute the almond meal for sun-flour, although you may get a faint green taint due to the chlorogenic compounds. Make the filling first to allow to cool and thicken.

80g fresh poppy seeds 
60g milk (I used almond milk)
1 egg yolk
25g butter
1 tab honey
1 teas coconut flour
1 tab tapioca flour
vanilla to taste
Mill the poppy seeds on SP 9 for 10 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 6 mins at 100°C on SP 3. The mix will be thick – set aside to cool. Clean & dry the TM bowl. 
Cake mix
50g almond meal (or sun-flour if nut-free)
45g coconut flour
20g tapioca flour
110g coconut sugar (I used Natvia)
1 heaped teas baking powder
rind of 1 lemon
110g butter, softened
4 eggs + 1 egg white
60g orange juice or water
2 teas apple cider vinegar
Grind the lemon rind with the sugar on SP 9 for 10 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix on SP 6 for 10 seconds or until well combined and creamy. 
Use cupcake cases in a cupcake tin and give them a spray of oil. Half fill cases with the cake mix and make a small indent.  Drop a teaspoonful of the poppy paste into the indented mix and cover with remaining cake mix.   Alternatively, fill a piping bag with the poppy-seed paste and pipe a teaspoonful into the middle of the batter. 
Bake in a 170°C oven for 20 minutes.
* Footnote: I have since spoken to Helen who tells me that later this year they will be opening a cafe, 2 shops down from their bakery!! 
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