Almond-Poppy Seed Cake

This festive and hearty cake is not only delicious, but very fragrant. Its few ingredients and steps make for easy preparation, and it may be served plain or with Lemon Frosting. It uses no oil, and still bakes up moist without being greasy.

Almond Poppy Seed Cake

Note: I have received some questions about millet, as it’s a lesser-used whole grain. Millet is a non-glutinous grain that works really well in sweet breads and cake, I’ve found (see photo of millet at end of this post). Using all oat flour (which I commonly use) results in baked desserts being too dense and heavy. The millet lifts things a bit and results in a nice, moist cake that is thoroughly cooked.

If you don’t have millet on hand, I encourage you to purchase some (usually at healthier groceries, I buy mine in the bulk section; or online). If you’d like to use another type of flour in place of the millet, give it try and let me know how it goes.

As for pre-ground millet flour purchased at the store vs. whole-grain millet that you grind yourself (in a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix), I always grind my own, since that way I don’t have more flour than I need sitting around. But if you do use pre-ground, the measurement is the same. I don’t like to make people hunt around for unusual ingredients, but since millet works so well, I think it’s worth using in this recipe (I also use it in my Zucchini Bread). Thanks!

1½ cups non-dairy milk
8 ounces dates, pitted and quartered (about 12+ Medjool)
1½ teaspoons almond extract
1¼ cups rolled oats, ground into flour
¾ cup dry/uncooked millet, ground in flour
2½ tablespoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon)

1. Preheat oven to 325. Line a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper (or use a silicone baking pan). In a small bowl, place the chopped dates, non-dairy milk, and almond extract, and set aside (so dates can soften).

2. Grind the oats and millet together into flour in your blender, and place into a mixing bowl. Add to this the baking powder and poppy seeds, and mix with a fork.

3. Blend the dates, non-dairy milk, and almond extract until smooth. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients, along with the lemon zest, and mix just until all of the dry ingredients have been incorporated.

4. Pour batter into pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes uncovered. It will be done when it is an even medium brown and has some cracks on the top. Insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean, it’s likely done. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan to cool further on a cutting board. (It will rise during baking then fall a bit during cooling.) Cool for another 20 to 30 minutes before slicing. Serve as is or with Lemon Frosting (below).

Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 55 to 60 minutes
Makes: 1 standard loaf (about 10 slices)


Nuts: For added richness and texture, add a ½ cup chopped almonds (or walnuts) to the batter along with the lemon zest.

Lemons: A regular lemon will work just fine for the cake and frosting, but a fragrant Meyer lemon is extra good. Meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and an orange, and are in stores seasonally.

Ground nut topping: To add a bit of flair, grind some nuts on top of the frosted cake using a rotary cheese grater (as shown in top photo)

Baking powder: I use this sodium-free baking powder in my desserts.

Lemon Frosting
3 ounces dates, pitted and quartered (4 to 5 Medjool dates)
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons unsalted cashews (1 ounce)
Juice from 1 medium lemon (about a 1/2 cup)

Place all ingredients into a blender and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes (so that dates and nuts can soften). Blend until very smooth. Frost just before serving. Makes ¾ cup.

Almond Poppy Seed Cake

Above: Oat and millet flours together help give this cake a moist texture that isn’t too dense or gummy (which oat flour tends to do when used on its own).

Almond Poppy Seed Cake

Above: A couple slices of cake with chopped almonds added and Lemon Frosting.


Above: This is the type of millet used most in the U.S. You can find it in the bulk sections at healthy grocery stores, or you can purchase it online.

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