Here’s an effortless, yet quite nice cake that doesn’t require any preliminary preparation. All can be done in one day. The filling and frosting in this cake is simply whipped cream with generous amount of seedless raspberry jam folded in. The original idea is from well-known Gayle’s bakery, although I have to admit I changed the recipe a bit. I couldn’t resist a temptation and added some sour cream to the whipped cream; it adds a pleasant tang and goes so well with berries. I have a tendency to overdo the sour cream. Well, I’m Russian, and it probably explains it. My kiddo recently brought a book about my motherland as well as a dozen of other books about different countries (he’s into geography now). Among very useful information such as demographic data and climate zoning there was a small chapter dedicated to Russian food. I found it very educational myself  —  for example, I learned that Russians eat everything with sour cream and bread, that they eat soup with every meal, and that porridge is their favorite food. Who writes this stuff..?

I hope you all had wonderful holidays!

Makes one 9-inch round cake, about 12 servings

For the cake:

  • 1 cup poppy seeds
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

For the soaking syrup:

  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp raspberry liqueur

For the filling:

  • 2 cups cold whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp fine granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup seedless raspberry jam
  • ¼ cup cold full-fat sour cream
  • Fresh raspberry for decoration

Make the cake:

You can either bake the cake batter, equally divided, in three 9-inch round pans or use a high-sided (at least 3-inches deep) springform and bake all the batter in one pan. In both cases, butter the bottom(s) and sides of the pan (pans). Line the bottom of the pan(s) with a circle of parchment paper. Dust with flour, knocking out the excess. Set aside.

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F.

In a small saucepan, combine the poppy seeds and milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching. Take off the heat, add the vanilla extract, cover, and let to cool to room temperature (it will soften the seeds).

Sift together the flour, corn starch, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and alternately beat in the dry ingredients and poppy seed mixture, starting and finishing with the flour mixture.

In another grease-free bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry peaks form. Gently fold about 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten the batter, then fold in the rest of the whites. If using three pans, divide the batter equally between them; or scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan. Set the pan (s) on a large baking sheet and slide into the oven. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes if the batter is baked in 3 pans, or for about 1 hr 30 minutes if you are using the springform. A cake tester inserted into the center has to come out clean. Cool in the pan (s) on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes, then unmold. Cool completely on the rack. The cake can be made a couple days in advance and stored, well wrapped, at room temperature.

When ready to fill, using a long serrated knife, level the top (tops), cutting off just enough so that none of the brown crust remains. Flip over and again cut off any brown crust on the bottom. If the springform pan had been used, slice the cake horizontally in 3 layers.

Make the soaking syrup:

In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let cool. Add the liqueur. Cool completely before using. The syrup can be stored for up to a month in the refrigerator.

It makes more than you will need for soaking the cake. Don’t feel you have to use it all.

Make the filling, fill and decorate the cake:

In a large bowl, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. But don’t overbeat.

In a small bowl, whisk together the jam and sour cream until smooth. Whisk in about one cup of the whipped cream, then delicately, using a rubber spatula, fold the raspberry-cream mixture into the rest of the whipped cream.

Place one of the cake layers on a serving platter. Brush it with the soaking syrup. Spread about 1 heaping cup of the raspberry cream on the cake layer; the filling should be about 3/8-inch thick. Place another cake layer over the whipped cream. Brush it with the soaking syrup. Spread it with the another portion of the whipped cream. Place the last cake layer over the cream. Brush the top with the syrup as well. Ice the cake with a final coat of the whipped cream. If you wish, transfer the remaining cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe some decorations over the top.

Top with the fresh raspberries.

The cake can be enjoyed right away or stored overnight, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.