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Catholic Recipe: Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake


  • 3/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1-1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Prep Time: 6-7 hours

Difficulty: • •

Cost: $$$$

For Ages:11+

Origin: Ukraine


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We like to bake this Poppy Seed Cake for Easter because it reminds us of the whole lesson of Lent, the seed thrust into the ground to die, that it might live. The circle of the cake, baked in the tube pan, is like the circle of eternity — and that is the point of death to self: to live forever.

You may sift powdered sugar over it, or ice it with a thin confectioner's sugar icing, or serve it plain. It is nice plain, rather like a pound cake.


Soak the poppy seeds in milk 5 to 6 hours. Cream shortening and sugar. Add 1 egg yolk at a time and beat well after each addition. Add vanilla, milk with poppy seeds, then flour sifted together with baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add egg whites beaten stiffly. Bake at 375° about 30 to 40 minutes in 9" tube pan.

Recipe Source: Year and Our Children, The by Mary Reed Newland, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, New York, 1956