Memaw’s Poppy Seed Cake

There’ll be no tandem recipe this week; hopefully this’ll hold you over ’til next week!

Several years ago, my daughter flew to California to visit her father’s parents. When she came back, she brought this recipe with her. I was skeptical – poppy seeds? Really? Meh. – but she was so sure that Fred and I would love it that I finally gave it a try.

Oh my god, you guys. It is SO GOOD. It’s simple to make (most recipes that start with a cake mix – HI AMANDA! – are pretty simple), but SO GOOD. Did I mention that it’s SO GOOD? Because it IS. Fred likes it almost as much as I do, but I swear I could eat the whole thing myself. The crunch of the cinnamon sugar combined with the moist cake is perfect. Also, it’s fairly light and not particularly filling, so watch out – you might find you’ve eaten half the cake and only feel slightly full.

I don’t know where the original recipe came from (a Google search shows the same recipe all over the internet with a zillion different names), but as far as I’m concerned Danielle’s Memaw gets all the credit.

Your ingredients:

Memaw's Poppy Seed Cake (1)

Cake mix with pudding in the mix, a 5.1 oz. box of instant pudding mix, 3 eggs, water, oil, poppy seeds, and cinnamon sugar.

First thing, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Then grease a Bundt pan – you can use Crisco if you want, but I just use Baker’s Joy spray. It’s less messy.

Memaw's Poppy Seed Cake (2)

Then you “flour” your pan with the cinnamon sugar. I use a mix of 1 T. cinnamon to 8 T. sugar, but you can use more or less cinnamon, depending on your preferences. This part can get messy because you’ve got to sprinkle the cinnamon sugar in the pan and then shake it around to evenly coat the entire inside of the pan. I usually do this over the sink (also, don’t use all your cinnamon sugar – you’re going to need some later on!)

Memaw's Poppy Seed Cake (3)

Throw your cake mix, instant pudding, eggs, water, oil, and poppyseeds into a bowl and mix that stuff together. It takes me about three minutes on medium speed to get everything mixed together well. Scrape down your bowl, and then mix for about 30 seconds longer.

Pour the batter evenly into your Bundt pan.

Memaw's Poppy Seed Cake (5)

Bake the cake for 20 minutes, then remove it from the oven and sprinkle the top of the batter with your reserved cinnamon sugar. I generally use a small spoon to sprinkle the sugar; you can use a spoon or your fingers or whatever works for you. Just try to sprinkle it evenly so that the entire top (bottom) of the cake is covered.

Memaw's Poppy Seed Cake (6)

Continue baking the cake for another 20 – 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While it’s baking, go snuggle some kittens.

These kittens are The Sopranos. They’re a month old and they are killing me with how damn CUTE they are. Look at that attitude they’re giving me, because I woke them from their nap. Brats.

This is what the cake looks like when it’s done baking.

Memaw's Poppy Seed Cake (7)

I let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack. That can be messy (you lose a lot of cinnamon sugar off the top/bottom), so I usually do it over the sink.

The hardest part of this recipe, by far, is waiting for the cake to cool. It takes FOREVER, or so it seems. On the up side, it doesn’t have to be completely cool before you eat it – just as long as it’s not hot enough to burn your mouth, you’re good to go.

Memaw's Poppy Seed Cake (8)


The rumor is that you can also make a chocolate version of this cake using chocolate cake mix and instant pudding. I imagine you could do lemon as well – really, the possibilities are endless. I’ve never done anything but yellow cake/ vanilla pudding because I love it so much that I’ve never felt the need to experiment. I think YOU should, though, and report back to me.

Memaw's Poppy Seed Cake
Original Source/Author:
: Dessert
Cuisine: The land of cinnamon and sugar. I want to live there.
  • 1 cake mix with pudding in the mix (yellow or chocolate; you could also try lemon)
  • 1 5.1 oz box of instant pudding mix (vanilla or chocolate; lemon if you're making a lemon cake)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. water
  • ½ c. vegetable oil
  • 2½ T. poppy seeds
  • Cinnamon sugar - I use 1 T. cinnamon and 8 T. sugar, but you can adjust according to your preferences.
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Grease (with Crisco or Baker's Joy) and "flour" a Bundt pan with cinnamon sugar.
  3. Mix cake and pudding mixes, eggs, water, oil, and poppy seeds for 3 - 4 minutes; scrape down bowl and mix an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Pour evenly into Bundt pan.
  5. Bake 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, evenly sprinkle the top of the partially cooked batter with more cinnamon sugar, and return pan to oven. Cook another 20 - 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then finish cooling on a rack.


Amanda’s Pearl-Clutching Cake – Nance and Robyn make the same recipe

Every week we’ll post a recipe that we both made. This week’s recipe was Amanda’s Pearl-Clutching Cake. Printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.

Robyn’s Take:

This week’s recipe was submitted by reader Nanc in Ashland, who said:

This particular recipe came out of my Mom’s box o’ recipes. She still has the grease laden typed original. We no longer have that typewriter but I suppose it doesn’t matter. If you need it for legal protection, I can get a picture of that sucker and send it off, but I’ve made it so many times over the years I have it memorized.

I suspect the original recipe came out of a one of those happy-homemaker type magazines from the late 50s or early 60s (that’s the mid-20th century for those of you too young to remember) and if you search “sherry wine cake” on ye olde World Wide Web you’ll get a ton of hits with slight variations and attributed to a variety of sources.

Since this is the 21st century and we can do such things, I thought I’d rename the recipe in honor of everyone’s favorite DCEP commenter as it has three things guaranteed to make the title a reality: 1. Packaged cake mix, 2. Instant pudding mix, 3. Booze.

I can’t wait to see your take on Amanda’s Pearl-Clutching Cake, appropriate for family dinners, church potlucks, office birthday parties (I make this for my boss’s birthday every year) and children’s slumber parties (the booze bakes out but it’s the chaperones who eat it all)

With a name like that, how could we NOT make this recipe, I ask you!

So first of all, Nancy suggests a tube pan rather than a Bundt pan when making this cake. When I realized I didn’t have a tube pan, I up and ordered one off of Amazon – this one – because a tube pan seems like something I might want to have on hand for the future. Also, it was an impulse purchase. DAMN you, Amazon, for making it SO EASY to impulse buy!

Then, as I was gathering everything to make the cake, I realized that it calls for “cream sherry” rather than the cooking sherry I had on hand. That’s what I get for skimming, LIKE I ALWAYS DO. So off to the grocery store I went, and went up and down and up and down and UP and DOWN the baking aisle, assuming that that’s where the cream sherry would be. BUT NAY. Finally I rubbed two brain cells together and thought to check in the wine aisle, and there it was.

So THEN I was gathering my supplies to make the cake, and I realized that (1) the cake mix had pudding already in the mix, and (2) the instant vanilla pudding mix I had was the big box, not the small. I ordered Fred to run over to the dollar store (so close that I can see it from the front porch) to buy a cake mix that did NOT have pudding in it.

He came back with a box of these:

DCEP Cake Recipe (7)

I don’t really get the Moon Pie love, I assume because I didn’t grow up eating them. On the other hand, Fred doesn’t get the whoopie pie love (I often mock him for that), so I guess we’re even.

So the dollar store didn’t have cake mix without pudding in it. I debated running into town to buy a box of the correct stuff, but I was getting so annoyed that I decided to just use the cake mix I had, and hopefully it would work out.

Your ingredients:

DCEP Cake Recipe (2)

Yellow cake mix, vegetable oil, cream sherry, nutmeg, eggs.

It’s pretty simple, to Amanda’s dismay. Mix together the cake mix, pudding, and nutmeg. Then mix in the eggs and oil.

DCEP Cake Recipe (3)

Don’t forget the sherry!

DCEP Cake Recipe (4)

Okay, it’s maybe obvious that all I did was throw everything into the bowl at once, and mix it all together. I’m a rebel like that (could someone get Amanda to the fainting couch, please?)

DCEP Cake Recipe (5)

While that was mixing, I prepared the tube pan by greasing it up with Crisco, since that’s how Nancy prefers it.

Everyone knows the trick of using a sandwich baggie to protect your delicate fingers from the greasiness of Crisco, yes? I’m sure you do, I just thought I’d toss it out there for anyone who didn’t. You grease the pan and then toss the sandwich bag in the trash, because you hate the planet and want to smother it in plastic, you asshole.

DCEP Cake Recipe (6)

Pour the batter into the greased pan, and put it in the oven.

DCEP Cake Recipe (8)

Then after you’ve washed the dishes, take a kitten break.

DCEP Cake Recipe (10)

“If you are very very nice, Scorch will let you play with the straw, lady.”

“This is all going very well,” I said to myself as I played with kittens. “I hope this cake is good!”

And then.



10 minutes into the baking, THE GODDAMN POWER WENT OUT. I swore, I stomped, I swore some more, but none of that made the power come back on. And although USUALLY when our power goes off it comes almost immediately back on – in April of 2011, when most of the area was without power for days and days due to tornadoes ripping through the area, we were without power for only 5 hours – this time, it stayed off.

For an hour.

I didn’t even look at that goddamn cake until the power had been back on for about 10 minutes. Then I remembered it, and I opened the oven door, expecting to see a half-baked cake sitting there glaring up at me.

You know what?

DCEP Cake Recipe (11)

It was, like, PERFECTLY done. I poked a toothpick into it, and the toothpick came out clean. I sliced it, and it was perfectly baked. Seriously, y’all, what the fuck? That’s not how baking works!… is it?

DCEP Cake Recipe (12)

The verdict? It was pretty good! I could taste the sherry flavor, which was tastier than I expected. Fred, who had told me up front that he wasn’t going to touch the cake because ewwwwww, it has alllllcohol in it, and heeeeeeee doesn’t like alcohol based caaaaaakes, ewwwwww (imagine me saying all that in a whiny-baby voice as I mocked him), even Fred tried it and admitted that it had a good flavor.

Will I make it again? Probably – I’ve gotta use up that sherry somehow!

Thanks for the submission, Nancy!

PS: Nanc in Ashland said that you can vary the taste of the cake by using dry or sweet sherry, or you could also use white cake mix and Irish Cream, chocolate cake mix and creme de cocoa or Kahlua, or any other combination of cake mix flavors and booze.


Have a recipe you want us to make? Check out this page (there’s also a link to that page up there under the banner) and follow the instructions to submit a recipe!


Nance’s Take:

Shout-out to Robyn for finally fixing this damn website. Good help is so hard to find.  Sigh.

Cream Sherry Cake

Please note the blue arrow on this box. It’s pointing out the one thing that should not be in the cake mix you use for this recipe.  NO PUDDING IN THE CAKE MIX, you dum-dum!  Truth is, I skimmed the recipe when I read it and figured any ol’ yellow cake mix would do. Regarding submitted recipes:  I’m the type of girl that needs ALL CAPS to SPELL OUT the IMPORTANT PARTS (Translation: I am the dumbest dummy in all of Dumbville).  YELL AT ME, DAMMIT.  But only on the important parts.  Otherwise I’ll be pissy because I hate being yelled at.

I figured that I would just have to bake it a little longer to ward off all that extra “moistness” in this super moist cake. Here is where I go off-topic to tell you that my friend, Shelley (aka: Shelleyness™), once used the word moist to describe a male blogger. I have never, ever been able to hear or see the word moist without thinking about both of them since then. No need to ask who it is because if you actually think about all of the male bloggers you know, the one in which the word moist could apply is the one that I am talking about. Hee!

Thanks for the memories, Shelley Anne.

Cream Sherry Cake

Y’all know that we don’t drink much around here so it’s no surprise that I have never used Cream Sherry. But I rolled up in the liquor store and bought myself the cheapest bottle ($5.99) they had. Like a boss.

Cream Sherry Cake

There really isn’t much to show regarding this recipe. Here I am mixing the Sherry into the cake mix concoction. The highlight, if one were sadistic, would have been my holding the mixer with my left hand while taking pictures with my right. Ohh, Danger Kitchen! Okay, I did try to remove those beaters with my fingers while it was still plugged in but in my defense…I couldn’t figure out the eject button!  Rick just gave me That Look that says he thinks I’m stupid, but he’s smart enough not to say it out loud.

Cream Sherry Cake

Felina did not appreciate my pointing out that her princess ass never touches the floor thanks to Sadie. I may have also said that her ass was fat.  Sometimes the truth hurts.  They’re both getting pretty bored with this recipe because there was absolutely no chaos in the kitchen.

Rumor has it that Amanda thinks we’re the MySpace of food blogs.  As if.

Cream Sherry Cake

True Confession: I had to google what a tube-pan was. I had no idea. To me, this is an angel-food pan. The other one we have is a bundt cake pan. DCEP teaches me new things and Amanda has the nerve to snark? What an ignoramus. Her. Not me. Why? Because I can learn new things. If you think you already know everything, you can’t learn anything new. Who’s the dum-dum now, Amanda?

Also note: I greased AND floured the shit out of that pan because I had no idea what was going to happen with this cake.

Cream Sherry Cake

Presenting: Shirley’s entirely new tube-top combo. Green with purple…wait for it…scrubs! No, Shirley is not a nurse and has never worked in any part of the medical field. I had a haaaaaaard childhood. I like to think that she wore this as a homage to DCEP, but I know better. She just has fabulous taste and knows that green and purple is a wonderful color combination. That Shirley. She is a fashion plate.

Cream Sherry Cake

This is what it looked like after 42 minutes in my oven. I ended up using a bamboo skewer as my toothpick tester because it was long enough to hit the center of the cake. The top is shiny, but it’s not moisture. I’m guessing all the extra eggs might have something to do with it, but what the hell do I know of eggs and shine?

Cream Sherry Cake

Close up of the not-wet top. AKA: Artistic food photography by one of The Best. Take note, Amanda.  It’s not everybody that can take such great photos of food.

Cream Sherry Cake

The cake was dumped out onto a plate because I was unprepared and did not have a cake platter ready. Probably because I don’t own a damn cake platter. Do you notice that flour on top of the cake. I ALWAYS get that because I ALWAYS use way too much of everything when I do the pans. I think I was in 7th grade when I had a cake get stuck inside the damn pan. Obviously I have never recovered from that particular horror.

Cream Sherry Cake

Here’s the thing about this cake – I have never tasted anything like it in my life and that’s no exaggeration. The texture of this cake is FABULOUS. It will most definitely hold any type of icing/frosting (although you really don’t need it). And according to the recipe you can make it with almost any different alcohol combinations that you can imagine.

The people in this house have repeatedly tried this cake several times and no one has made a solid decision on it yet. We’re not saying that it tastes bad, it’s just so different from any cake we’ve ever had that none of us know how to process the flavor in our brains! It may very well be because we’re not use to the Sherry. It sounds nuts, huh? But it is what it is…a cake that has a unique flavor with an incredible texture. I’m going to go ahead and suggest that you make it because even if you don’t like it, you’re only out of a few inexpensive ingredients.

Amanda's Pearl-Clutching Cake - Nance and Robyn make the same recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
: Cake!
Cuisine: West Cakelandia
Serves: 12
  • 1 box yellow cake mix (without pudding)
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding
  • ¾ c. vegetable oil
  • ¾ c. cream sherry
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare a tube pan (preferred) or Bundt pan by greasing, spraying, or oiling and flouring.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix cake mix, pudding, and nutmeg. Add eggs, oil and sherry. Beat at high speed for 4 minutes.
  3. Pour into greased pan (duh).
  4. Bake 40 - 45 minutes; cake is done when toothpick comes out clean. Turn out at once.
  5. Notes: You can vary the taste by using dry or sweet sherry. You could use white cake mix and Irish Cream, chocolate cake mix and Creme de Cocoa or Kahlua, or any other combination of cake mix flavors and booze.
  6. If you live at a high altitude, you need to add 2 T of liquid (water, milk, sherry) to the batter.
  7. Nancy says that the tube pan works best; the Bundt pan may make a drier cake.
  8. Nancy suggests greasing the pan with Crisco, but you use what you feel is right. We'll only judge you a little.