Spring in a Springform Pan

This orange poppy seed cake is bursting with the season’s maple syrup, berries and flowers.

Photo by Leah Lizarondo

We've all had our revenge fantasies. From the "involuntary" schadenfreude to the out-and-out Sesame Street-style "What would happen if I pop this balloon …?" But the best revenge is always the sweet kind. Which brings me to this cake. It's the happiest cake I know. It's just Bursting. That's right, auto-correct. With a capital B.

This cake makes you want to sing. It makes you want to take down your grandma's curtains, make clothes out of them, run out to the fields and belt out, “The hills are alive!” 

Introducing Persephone's Revenge:
An Orange Poppy Seed Cake with Raspberry Maple Cream and Spring Flowers

Take that Hades. Persephone is in the house. (Let's forget for a moment that Persephone had the worst ever case of Stockholm Syndrome — one that puts Patty Hearst to shame.) 

This cake is what would have been served on the day Hermes found her. Citrusy. Shiny. Sweet. Colorful. Spring in a springform pan. A fresh orange cake with poppy seeds dripping with a raspberry maple glaze (it was, after all, Persephone's ruby-stained lips that gave away the fact that after all that time on the dark side … er … she ain't what she used to be).

And because it’s an homage to The Queen, we must crown the confection with edible flowers.

There are two versions of the cake below. One is gluten-free and one is not. Both are equally fantastic.

  Orange Poppy Seed Cake Ver. 1

Babycakes' Lemon Poppy Tea Cake transformed
Yield: one 8-inch single layer cake
Gluten-free, Vegan


  • ⅔ cup rice/almond/hemp milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup poppy seeds
  • ¾ cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (I often omit this, the cake is simply less spongy but no less tasty)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup coconut oil, plus more for pan
  • ¾ cups agave nectar or maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons pure orange extract or 1 drop food grade orange oil
  • 1 good heaping tablespoon orange zest


1.  Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch loaf pan with oil and line the bottoms with parchment paper cut to fit.

2.  Pour the hemp milk, apple cider vinegar and poppy seeds into a small bowl – but do not stir – and set aside.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt.

4. Add the oil, agave nectar, applesauce, vanilla and orange to the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth.

5.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape the poppy seed mixture into the batter, and combine just until all ingredients are blended. The batter will expand slightly.

6.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the center rack for 35 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 18 minutes.

7.  The teacake will be golden brown and springy a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

8.  Let the teacake stand in the pan for 20 minutes, then gently run a knife around the edge of the bread.

9.  Cover the top of the pan with a serving plate and invert onto the plate.

10. Cover the uncut cake with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

  Orange Poppy Seed Cake Ver. 2

This is a variation of (my hero) Fran Costigan's Lovely Light Lemon Cake
Yield: One 8-inch two-layer cake


  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ⅔ cup rice/almond/hemp milk
  • ¼ cup plus 2 T. fresh orange juice
  • 1 T minced orange zest
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. orange extract or 1 drop food-grade orange oil
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar


1.  Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Oil two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper cut to fit.

2.  Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir with a wire whisk.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients together until well blended. Pour into the dry mixture and stir with a whisk until the batter is smooth. The batter will be fairly thick.

4.  Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Tap the pans lightly to eliminate air bubbles.

5.  Bake for 20-2 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are golden, the sides have started to pull away from the pans and a cake tester comes out clean with only a few moist crumbs.

6.  Cool the plans on racks for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife between ech cake and the inside of the pan. Invert onto a rack.

7.  Remove the pans and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Cool completely.

8.  You have a choice at this point to make two one-layer cakes or one two layer cakes. Choose wisely.

  Raspberry Maple Glaze

Yield: Will glaze a two-layer cake


  • 1 bag frozen raspberries, thawed
  • ½ – ¾ cup maple cream or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract


1. Blend thawed raspberries in a blender.

2. Add maple cream or syrup and blend until smooth.

3.  Try not to eat it all.

Edible Flowers
Optional of course, but why not?
Great choices: carnations, begonias, apple blossoms, elderberry blossoms, chamomile or lavender.

Other topping ideas:
Fresh blackberries (black on red glaze! Kickass!)
Fresh raspberries or strawberries
Orange rind – curled

Assembling the Cakes:
1.  For a one-layer cake, pour and spread glaze wantonly.

2.  For a two-layer cake, practice some restraint, only for a moment. Spread ½ cup of the glaze on top of one cake then place the other cake on top and press lightly. Pour glaze with the same wanton abandonment as with the one layer cake.

3.  Top with topping of choice.

Categories: Brazen Kitchen