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Poppy Seed Pudding - How a Recipe Is Born

Updated on January 10, 2018
Gloriousconfusion profile image

I used to help in our family restaurant, and I love good food. I enjoy thinking up creative ways to use leftovers to avoid food waste.

My Poppy Seed Pudding started with a cooking disaster

Some time ago, I saw Capriliz's mouthwatering recipe lens for pumpkin roll , and thought "I'll make that". Well, did I, hell!

I thought I had all the ingredients in my cupboard, so I left it until I was ready to start, assembled everything, and discovered that what I thought was a packet of pumpkin mix was actually pumpkin soup mix.

I could have just made pumpkin soup and left it at that, with a vague intention to make pumpkin roll at some time in the future. But then there'd have been no poppy seed pudding Diana, and no story, so it's a good thing I was determined to make a sweet and not a soup.

No tins of pumpkin, and no pumpkin mix - I searched high and low

Persistent, as ever, at first I scoured the local shops - no tins of pumpkin, and no pumpkin mix - this was about four days before Halloween, the only time of the year when sales of all things pumpkin should soar. If the London grocery stores were not full of pumpkin products now, they never would be.

Then I went further afield, to the local market. No processed pumpkin, only the real thing, which looked like too much trouble, especially as "pumpkin puree" was called for in the recipe.

I visited three supermarkets without success and, as a last resort, I did reluctantly buy a slice of real pumpkin, at the astronomical price of £1.50 ($3 approximately) for a small piece.

As I was busy for a few days, I left the fresh pumpkin, together with the other ingredients, on my kitchen counter, intending to use it imminently. When I did go to use it after a few days in centrally heated conditions, it was mushy and a bit fizzy looking, so I had to throw it out.

A Solution was Needed Quickly - Use something different, of course!

Undaunted, and determined to make some kind of roll, I cast around in my mind to think what else I could use.

I remembered a tin of Polish poppyseed cake-filling I had bought a year ago from an ethnic shop in the market. As there were no English instructions on the tin, it had lain neglected for some time.

It's called Bakalland Poppy Seed Filling and it's scrumptious.

Life is Much Easier if you Have a Blender or Food Processor - I use my almost every day. it does so many things

It can grate, slice things thick or thin, mix pastry and thick things, and blend things like soup, puree or pate. My machine has been very hard-wearing and I have had it for over twenty-five years - not bad

The Pumpkin Roll Recipe - This was no longer completely appropriate

Now no longer completely appropriate, as pumpkin puree was the only liquid mentioned.

I needed to substitute the puree with something else..

I thought the best thing would be to cobble together the best of two recipes.

So I looked through a very old International Jewish Recipe Book which my mother had used in Africa in the 1950s. Sure enough, there was a recipe for Swiss roll.

So, dodging between English cups, American cups and ounces (fortunately I didn't have to cope with grammes because they do my head in), I knocked up the sponge mix, and as I didn't have ground cloves, I added "Apple Pie Seasoning", which was somewhat more esoteric, but smells good. One recipe called for four eggs - excessive - and the other for three, so I compromised with three large eggs.

Then, the recipes both called for waxed grease-proof paper. I thought that had gone out with the swinging sixties, but obviously not. I had loads of silver foil (several rolls came from a house clearance I did), so I substituted that, and greased it as required. The recipe said 350 degrees, but as my oven just has numbers, I guessed approximately Regulo 5.

Cooking went well for ten minutes.


Meanwhile I opened the tin of poppy seed mix - It looked a bit solid

The Poppy Seed Mix Looked too Solid for a Topping - This caused me some consternation.

I decided to spread it on the nearly-cooked sponge and returned it to the oven for 5 minutes to melt it.

Unfortunately I received two phone calls, went into another room to take them, and forgot the baking. I remembered it after about ten minutes, and it looked in good shape, except that the poppy seed mix hadn't melted, and was just a solid lump on top.

The original pumpkin roll recipe called for soft cream cheese in the filling. I had some Philadelphia, which is somewhat solid cream cheese, but I had every hope that, if spread on hot poppyseed filling, it would melt.

Well, it didn't so much melt as stick to the mixture.

When I tried to roll the sponge off the base of the pan, I realized that the reason you are supposed to put the filling on later, and not at the time like I did, is because you have to scrape the sponge off the pan, turn it over and put it on a cloth sprinkled with confectioners sugar, and only then do you put the filling on top and roll it up.

Believe me, reader, you can't do these steps with a heavy sticky mass which has stuck to the bottom of the pan.

I tried to get it up with a fish-lift, sprinkling it with confectioners sugar in stages, but the cake started to break up.

In my struggles with the fish-lift, I knocked over the icing sugar, which covered the microwave and kitchen counter in white powder, and I even got poppy seed mix on the cupboard door above it.

Rescue Procedure

Remember to go with the tide, not against it

Realizing this was not going to be a roly poly cake, Swiss roll or mock pumpkin roll, as it simply would not roll up, I allowed it to break up, concentrating on getting it out of the pan in as large pieces as possible and on to a plate.

Mission accomplished, except for a small portion which would not fit.

I put that portion in a round dish, and realized that this could be the makings of a delicious pudding, possibly heated up, with a little Philadelphia cheese topping to make it a bit tart, and a dash of cream, or even ice cream.


É voila! A new dish was born - Poppy Seed Cake Diana

Top marks for sophistication, texture, flavour and originality.

The Most Important Thing to Remember:

Have confidence in your cooking - you can often create something out of a spoilt meal, and no-one will even know the difference

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    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Great job - salvaging something delicious from all that craziness! I'm sure it tasted good too.

    • aviwolfson profile image

      Avi Wolfson 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Wow, thanks looks amazing, thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This was hysterical! You had me laughing all the way. I am surprised you ended up with something good after all that.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This was a great story and recipe, thanks for sharing.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      @anonymous: That made my day! Was your grandmother in Africa too? Although it was called International, I think it was only actually available in Africa, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I swear by it, and use it as much as any other recipe books,

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi , I have a copy of that very same international jewish recipe book - it belonged to my grandmother. I love looking through it because it reminds me of all the wonderful biscuits and cakes she used to bake! One of the things I really like about it is that there were no fancy ingredients in any of the recipes - everything was made from standard storecupboard stuff and sometimes when I need to bake something quickly and easily I turn to that very book. Lovely to see that someone else in the world is still using it!

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 

      9 years ago

      I am sitting here laughing. But, I know how frustrating that can be - you are ready to bake, but you are missing one key ingredient! I am so glad that your poppy seed diane turned out well for you. That is a bit different from the pumpkin roll recipe! I have to lensroll this to my pumpkin roll lens.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Interesting story.


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