Naomi’s Poppy Seed & Cardamom Cake (Gluten-Free)


This great recipe comes from the February 2007 issue of Foods Matter Magazine.  The people at Foods Matter publish a traditional magazine for the U.K. and an online version for both U.S. and U.K. customers who may be following a special diet due to allergies or other condition.

Ingredients: FILLING & TOPPING

  • 3-4 ripe pears – about 1 lb
  • 3 oz dairy-free spread
  • 6 oz confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Ingredients: CAKE

  • 4 oz dairy free spread
  • 3/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 oz fruit sugar (fructose)
  • 3 large or 4 medium eggs
  • 5 oz ground almonds
  • 2 oz brown rice flour
  • 2 oz organic soya flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 15 green cardamom pods
  • 3 oz poppy seeds
  • 3/8 cup whatever “milk” you can tolerate
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence or 2 tsp rosewater


  • Preheat the oven to Gas mark 31/2.
  • Grease and line the bottom of two 8 inch diameter cake pans.
  • Peel the pears – try to use the juiciest you can find.  Quarter, core and slice each quarter into three slim pieces lengthways.They will be arranged on top of the cake at the end, so make them reasonably even. Spread them in a single layer on a buttered cooking sheet and bake them at the top of the oven until they are soft and golden tinged.
  • They should be ready about the same time as the cake. In the absence of fresh pears you could use those canned in juice – you could reduce some of the juice to make a syrupy glaze for the pears.
  • Put the butter in a saucepan and melt gently.Take it off the heat and leave until it has cooled a little, (to make it dairy free use 5 fl oz oil instead).Add the vegetable oil and then the fruit sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time until completely smooth and set aside.
  • Put the ground almonds, soya flour, rice flour and poppy seeds into a large mixing bowl. Sift in the bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar.
  • Bash the cardamom pods to split them and empty the little seeds into a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Cardamom seeds vary in strength so use your own judgement here. If the seeds inside the pods are black and oily you might need only ten, if they look brownish and shrivelled then go for twenty. I love cardamom so I always throw in a few extra.
  • Grind to a fine powder and tip into the bowl with the poppy seeds. Add the vinegar and vanilla or rosewater to the milk – it will curdle and that’s exactly what you want! It makes a lighter cake. Now to combine everything. Mix the sugar/egg mixture into the dry ingredients until it is completely smooth.Then pour the milk mixture over and fold in till it is just incorporated. Pour evenly into the prepared tins.
  • Check the pears in the oven, they might be just about done. If they are, take them out now and put aside. If not, leave them in until the cake is cooked – opening the oven while the cake is cooking can cause it to fall. Put the tins in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until springy to the touch and golden on top.When done leave to cool in the tin. Remember to peel the paper off the bottom before assembly.
  • Whip the cream until it is floppily thick – it tends to stiffen up once everything is assembled.To make the alternative dairy-free filling, put the spread, icing sugar and vanilla extract into a food processor and whiz till smooth or beat by hand. Sandwich the cakes together with the cream /dairy-free filling.Arrange the pear slices in a circle on top and drizzle any juices in the tin over the whole thing.

Delicious with some cardomom coffee or fragrant Earl Grey tea.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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