Vanilla Poppy Seed Cake with Whipped Ganache

Yield: 1 6-inch three layer cake, 8 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes

Vanilla Poppy Seed Cake with Whipped Ganache is three layers of ultra moist cake and pure vanilla decadence. No special decorating skills needed! Tons of tips and tricks included below.

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Heaps of vanilla and white chocolate flavor.
Texture: The cake is ultra moist and soft, without being too delicate to stand up to the rich whipped white chocolate ganache.
Ease: Very straight forward and simple! Just remember to give yourself time to chill the ganache before whipping.
Pros: Fun and beautiful cake, perfect for any vanilla lover.
Cons: None!
Would I make this again? Absolutely.

Vanilla Poppy Seed Cake with Whipped Ganache is three layers of ultra moist cake and pure vanilla decadence. No special decorating skills needed!

As stressful as traveling can be, I still find it to be my greatest source of inspiration. In terms of food, design, architecture, landscape, culture, and just life in general, there’s nothing like being exposed to a different way of living.

This past spring Jared and I visited my family in Perth, Australia. We also explored Sydney for a few days. It was my first time in Perth as an adult, and my first time in Sydney period (I lived in Melbourne when I was around five years old).

Although the Australian culture is similar to American culture, the little differences completely intrigued and inspired me. I may have forced Jared to spend an hour with me poring over Aussie cookbooks at a bookstore. I loved it.

The food and culinary styles are similar enough to American cuisine to feel familiar, but different enough to be interesting. Even the desserts! I left with a bunch of new recipe ideas, and have been experimenting with them ever since.

One of the recipes I knew I wanted to make was this Vanilla Poppy Seed Cake with Whipped Ganache. Sure, there are plenty of recipes in the U.S. for poppy seed cake, but I just loved that this one took a slightly different direction by utilizing vanilla as its main flavoring, and white chocolate whipped ganache as the frosting. Plus it’s absolutely beautiful but requires no special decorating skills or equipment.

Vanilla Poppy Seed Cake with Whipped Ganache is three layers of ultra moist cake and pure vanilla decadence. No special decorating skills needed!

Vanilla Poppy Seed Cake with Whipped Ganache Recipe Tips

Cake Pans & Converting Size

I love that this recipe makes a small but tall cake. It’s so beautiful and impressive but doesn’t require a huge group of people to want to make. I love my Fat Daddio’s 6-inch cake pans because they bake beautifully, don’t stick, and clean up easily.

*If you don’t have three 6-inch cake pans, you can use two 8-inch cake pans. Increase the baking time to about 30 minutes.*


If you don’t already have some, I would definitely recommend picking up a jar of vanilla bean paste for this recipe. It packs way more punch than vanilla extract. You could always use a vanilla bean pod as well!

Whipped White Chocolate Ganache

Be sure to use the highest quality bars of white chocolate that you can find. Ghirardelli white chocolate bars are available at most grocery stores and tastes wonderful. Do NOT use white chocolate chips. All chocolate chips have ingredients in them to help maintain their chip shape, so they won’t melt down as smoothly as chopped bar chocolate.

Make Ahead

The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and wrapped well in plastic wrap. Store at room temperature up to 1 day ahead of time, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

The melted white chocolate and cream ganache can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days ahead of time before whipping and spreading over cake. The assembled cake is best eaten within one day. Refrigerate to store, but serve at room temperature.

If you make and enjoy this Vanilla Poppy Seed Cake, be sure to snap a picture and share it on Instagram, tagging #handletheheat, so we can all see your creations!

Photos by Constance Higley.

How to make
Vanilla Poppy Seed Cake with Whipped Ganache

Recipe By Tessa Arias, Handle the Heat
Yield: 1 6-inch three layer cake, 8 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes

Note: Reader Kelli had great success turning this cake into cupcakes, “Made 19 cupcakes & baked them for 18 minutes.”


For the cake:

  • 13 tablespoons (180 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (254 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • For the white chocolate ganache:

  • 16 ounces (454 grams) white chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • Fresh fruit, shaved white chocolate, etc. for garnish
  • Directions

    Make the cake:

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter three 6-inch cake pans, lining the bottoms with parchment paper.

    In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla paste on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well combined.

    In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

    Add the flour mixture and milk in alternating batches, beating on low speed in between each addition until just combined. Gently stir in the poppy seeds.

    Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans, smoothing the surfaces. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

    Make the ganache:

    In a microwave-safe bowl, micorwave the chocolate and cream in 30-second bursts, stirring between each burst, until smooth. Stir in the vanilla paste. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes, or until slightly firmed.

    Using an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the ganache until light and fluffy.

    Place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread with about 1/2 cup of the ganache. Repeat with the remaining two cake layers and ganache. Decorate with fresh fruit or chocolate shavings, if desired.

    Adapted from Taste

    About Tessa...

    Tessa is a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. She loves to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. She's on a mission to make the world a more unapologetically DELICIOUS place. Tessa lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

    Find Tessa on  

    8 Responses to “Vanilla Poppy Seed Cake with Whipped Ganache”

    1. #
      Melanie — August 25, 2017 at 5:24 am

      How wrong would it be if I just make the ganache and eat it with a spoon? 😉 Looks delish!

    2. #
      Lee — August 25, 2017 at 8:13 am

      Hi Tessa,

      I love lemon poppy seed cakes and was wondering if instead of the vanilla I can use lemon zest and juice.

      Thank you

    3. #
      Julia — August 25, 2017 at 9:21 am

      I love the look of naked cakes! So simple yet looking amazing! Very pretty and I bet it’s delicious as well! 🙂

    4. #
      Jocelyne — August 25, 2017 at 8:32 pm

      Whipped Ganache??? That sounds magical! I love ganache on brownies…now whipped??? Yum!!! Thank you!!

    5. #
      Kelli — August 27, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      LOVE this recipe, thank you for sharing it Tessa. Moist, buttery, heavenly deliciousness, and the poppy seeds lend a slight nutty flavor. Haven’t frosted mine yet – had to eat one 1st. Yearned for a cupcake for whatever reason (peeling the liner off & all) so made mine into cupcakes. Made 19 cupcakes & baked them for 18 minutes. Baked up beautifully. Brings back memories of a vanilla poppy seed cake at a special place by the lake I had once/twice growing up – definitely a KEEPER!

      • #
        Tessa — August 28, 2017 at 9:24 am

        Yay! So pleased to hear that, Kelli! I’m going to add your note about cupcakes in the post as I’m sure it’ll be helpful to others 🙂

    6. #
      Jeanne — October 30, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      Not sure what happened with my ganache. After whipping for 10 min it was still watery & dripped down the cake. Didn’t think it was too warm when I took it from the refrigerator.

    7. #
      Jennifer — March 28, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      Hey Tessa! So excited to make this! Question: would you recommend this whipped ganache if I wanted to frost the entire layered cake in regards to flavor and stability? Instead of this (beautiful!) naked look?

    Leave a Comment

    Join the Handle the Heat Community

    Join the Handle the Heat Community
    Do you want a more delicious life?
    Instead of digging through cookbooks and magazines and searching the internet for amazing recipes, subscribe to Handle the Heat to receive new recipe posts delivered straight to your email inbox. You’ll get all the latest recipes, videos, kitchen tips and tricks AND my *free* Cookie Customization Guide (because I am the Cookie Queen)!


    As Seen On....
    NPR People Time Glamour Readers Digest The Huffington Post BuzzFeed
    Join the Baking Challenge!  Learn More