Nana Recipe Wednesday–Poppy Seed Cake

by Sarah on June 27, 2012

I’ll be honest. I don’t really know whose recipe this is. It might be Nana’s, but it might also be Aunt Marg’s. I first remember eating this cake at Aunt Marg’s house in Spokane, WA. I was on a cross-country trip with my Uncle Woody and Brett (both of whom I tortured mercilessly from my squished perch in the backseat of a 1979 Honda Civic), coming home from a trip to Minnesota. We took in the sights on the way there and back–gems like The Corn Palace, Wall Drug, Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills. Somehow we ended up in Spokane, where Aunt Marg put us up for the night. I don’t really remember anything about it other than this cake.  And that I got a jar of ash from the recently exploded Mt. St. Helen’s.

This is one of my favorite photos of Marg, mostly because I cannot resist a pantsuit with wild animals frolicking about on it.  From left: Aunt Margaret-Anne (you’ll want to click on that picture to get a good look at that pantsuit), Nana (a vision in pink chiffon), Auntie Jill, Auntie Anne (the blushing bride), and myself (the dork in yellow).

Fast forward 30ish years.  I still remember the CAKE.  Typical.  And then I found this recipe in Nana’s recipe drawer.  So I don’t know who had it first, it’ll just have to remain a mystery.  This is another one of these recipes that use convenience products, but don’t write it off just yet.  This really is a moist and delicious little cake—and you know I will use cake mixes without qualms.  They can be quite good, especially when you add in extra stuff.

Just mix together the cake mix, pudding, water and oil.  It takes all of about five seconds.

Then add the eggs, beating in one at a time.  I don’t really know what beating in one egg at a time accomplishes here, but whatever–I followed the instructions.

Then stir through the poppy seeds.  What do you think about the whole husband’s tale about poppy seeds messing up a drug test?  If you believe it, you better not make this cake before testing for a new job.  There are a LOT of poppy seeds in there.

Pour the batter evenly into 2 greased loaf pans.  You know I used the spray grease.

They’ll be about half full, but will puff up in the oven.

Bake for just under an hour–the tops should be springy, but you should do the toothpick test to make sure they’re done.

A quick and delicious cake.   Lemony, moist and crunchy with the poppy seeds.  Best of all, you can freeze one of them and eat it the next time you get a craving.

Nana and Marg's Poppy Seed Cake


  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 package instant lemon pudding


  • Preheat oven to 350*. Grease 2 loaf pans and set aside.
  • Mix together the cake mix, pudding, oil and water. Beat in one egg at a time. Stir in the poppy seeds.
  • Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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