Join 11,000+ other food lovers enjoying weekly recipes.

Chocolate Poppy Seed Cake Recipe

Chocolate and Poppy Cake Recipe is layered with sweetened condensed milk buttercream and covered with light whipped cream. This Russian cake has been a favorite for many years and once you make it, I’m sure it will become yours too!

Chocolate and Poppy Cake on a serving tray.

This Russian cake is known by the many different names including Black Prince, Russian Royal Cake or Bottom of the Ocean. I’ve found that almost everybody who lived in Russia has some variation of this cake recipe and that is not to say that Americans don’t.

Sour Cream Substitutions 

You can find similar recipes, with the only difference being that sour cream is sometimes replaced by yogurt, sometimes buttermilk, others decide to substitute it with vegetable oil. And no wonder it is such a popular cake worldwide – it definitely is one of the best tasting cakes. Dense, moist with a certain creaminess from the condensed milk frosting, or as I call it – Russian buttercream.

Cake Layer Filling Options

The versatility of the cake layers is also another reason this cake is popular in the Russian community. Each layer can be different, depending on what you want to add to it. You can make your cake all chocolate, or all poppy seed, or all raisins, or all white vanilla cake, or alternate the flavors of the cake layers to your liking. I used only poppy seeds and chocolate, but you’re the boss of your cake, so it is up to you! Just replace the amount of poppy seeds with an equal amount by volume with dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips.

Chocolate and Poppy Cake on a cake platter with a slice missing.

Easy Chocolate and Poppy Seed Cake recipe

When giving somebody a recipe, I always say that if you’ve never baked a thing in your life you can still make this cake, it is that easy and straightforward.

The original recipe does not call for additional frosting for decorating the outside of the cake, but I always find that given frosting is only enough to layer the cake and make it delicious. I always add 2 cups of whip cream (whipped to stiff peaks) to decorate the outside of the cake. You can do the same, or you can omit this step and just reserve 1 cup of frosting before starting to layer the cake, for covering the outside.

This recipe uses Russian Buttercream you can read about, here.

Enjoy these other Cake recipes:


Chocolate Poppy Seed Cake

5 from 4 votes

Chocolate and Poppy Cake Recipe is layered with sweetened condensed milk buttercream and covered with light whipped cream.

Author: Marina | Let the Baking Begin!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Ukrainian
Keyword: chocolate poppy seed cake
Calories: 572 kcal
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 16 Servings


Ingredients for the Chocolate Poppy Seed Cake

Condensed Milk Buttercream

For decorating the cake


How to Make the Chocolate and Poppy Seed Cake Layers

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter the inside of two 8-inch round baking pans and dust with flour. Shake out the excess. Alternatively, you can spray them with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Fasten the wet cake strips around the baking pans. Set aside.

  2. 1st & 2nd layer - Whisk 2 eggs with a 1 cup of sugar, add 1 cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons baking soda mixed with 2 tablespoon vinegar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup poppy seeds thoroughly until smooth and creamy.

    Then, divide evenly between the two prepared pans & bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

  3. 3rd and 4th layer - Follow the instructions in step 2, but replace poppy seeds with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder.

  4. Invert the baked cakes onto a wire rack and let cool. If you'd like thinner cake layers, split each cake layer horizontally into two even layers with a long serrated knife.

How to cook the sweetened condensed milk

  1. Do this if you prefer your frosting to be dulce de leche flavored, skip this step if you would like regular sweetened condensed milk flavor instead.


    Remove the labels off cans, place in a deep pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Keep the water at a slow simmer for 1.5-2 hours. Keep adding more hot water if the water evaporates and doesn't cover the cans (if the water evaporates and the cans cook with no water, they will explode). Take off the heat and cover with cold water until the cans are cool, about 4 hours.

To make the Russian Buttercream Frosting (click the link for photo tutorial)

  1. In a bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the butter for about 5 minutes on high speed, scraping down the sides several times throughout. 

  2. With the mixer still running, slowly pour the condensed milk against the inside wall of the mixer bowl until fully incorporated and fluffy. As soon as the condensed milk is added, with some streaks of the condensed milk still showing, turn the mixer off and fold the frosting until fully combined.

  3. How to assemble the Chocolate Poppy Seed Cake

  4. Place a dab of frosting on a serving platter. Top with the first cake layer and press to adhere. Spread 1/3 of the frosting into an even layer, then repeat with the rest of the cake layers and the Russian Buttercream. 

To Decorate the Poppy Seed Chocolate Cake:

  1. Whip the heavy cream with a mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and whip to incorporate. Whip until the cream is fluffy and there are visible ripples as the whisk is whipping. Do not overwhip or the cream might separate. If you see the cream start to separate, stop the mixer, add a little bit of unwhipped cream and carefully mix until smooth again.

  2. Cover the cake in the prepared whipped cream and decorate to your liking.

Recipe Notes

Refrigerate the cake overnight. Serve at room temperature or cold out of the fridge, depending on how you like it.

This recipe makes one  4-inch tall, 10-inch round cake.
For 8-9 inch cake, use only 3/4 ingredients.
For a 6-inch cake, use 1/2 the recipe

Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Poppy Seed Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 572 Calories from Fat 387
% Daily Value*
Fat 43g66%
Saturated Fat 25g156%
Cholesterol 157mg52%
Sodium 392mg17%
Potassium 156mg4%
Carbohydrates 41g14%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 27g30%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 1385IU28%
Vitamin C 0.5mg1%
Calcium 157mg16%
Iron 1.7mg9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Bon Appetit & Happy Pinning

Thank you for following me on Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest!

Hashtag your photos #LetTheBakingBeginBlog so I can see your creations and for a chance to be featured!

Marina | Let the Baking Begin

Welcome to Let the Baking Begin! I'm Marina and my love and passion for eating only the most delicious foods drive me to share that love here on Let the Baking Begin (since 2009). With over 20 years of experience in the kitchen, you know the recipes are tested and retested until perfect. I'm so happy to have you here. Enjoy! Read more...

Join 11,000+ other food lovers enjoying weekly recipes.


Leave a comment

Please give this recipe a STAR RATING

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • angela

    hi marina! I was wondering if I could make this into a 9×13 rectangular cake and what amount of of ingredients would I need as well as bake time?

    · Reply
  • Angela

    This is such a delicious cake!!!! We all love it!! Have you tried freezing this cake? I know a lot of desserts freeze and defrost well, but thought I’d ask you first before trying it!

    · Reply
    • Love hearing your feedback! Thank you for sharing!

      Yes, this cake freezes perfectly. Just leave in the fridge to thaw.

      · Reply
  • Angie

    Looks delicious! But is this cake really sweet ? My family is not a big fan of too sweet cakes… can I substitute the cream with a cream cheese, whipping cream and sugar cream instead the buttercream ?

    · Reply
    • Hi Angie, I wouldn’t say this is a very sweet cake. You could change it to your choice of cream, but I would try this cake with the cream you see in the recipe at least once before you try to change it – it’s really good.

      · Reply
  • Hello,
    I’m making this cake right now and believe I spotted a mistake in the directions. Your instructions say 1/2 cup of flour, instead of 1 cup. Just thought you’d like to know 🙂 I love poppyseed and chocolate and am confident this cake will be a huge hit at our Sunday’s family event! 🙂

    · Reply
  • Esther Kungu

    Cakes look so yummy.

    · Reply
  • Lesya

    So to make an identical cake to your picture….. do i take the amount of ingredients in STEP 2 x 4??? So the ingredients portions in step 2 make one layer as pictured?

    · Reply
    • Hi Lesya,
      Yes, you got that right. I am editing the instructions to make more clear. Let me know if you have any more questions!

      · Reply
  • iryna

    Hi Marina! So i was whipping the heavy cream and it started to look fluffy and then added sugar and vanilla extract. In a minute the cream become somewhat like cottage cheese. What did i do wrong?

    · Reply
    • That’s what overwhipped whip cream looks like. You need to whip for less time. If you whip for too long, you will take your cream to a butter stage, that’s when solids and liquids separate and you get butter.
      Next time start to to add the sugar as soon the whip cream begins to thicken, and stop whipping when it just holds peaks.
      If you do overwhip, add a little bit of cream (liquid) and mix again, and it should come together again. If you beat too long though, it could be unrepairable.

      · Reply
  • Elona

    Wow! I made this cake today and it was absolutely scrumptious!;) I rate 5 star! Keep posting amazing recipes Marinochka!

    · Reply
  • Tzivia

    Wow omg another cool awesome cake love poppy seeds and chocolate but not everyone in my family is a raisin fan can I suv chocolate chips or chopped chocolate for the raisins I think I 1 tried a cake like this @ a Sabbath gathering after synagogue morning services and it brought back such nostalgia for me how many cake pans would I need since it looks very step by step but omg oh soooo yummmm

    · Reply
  • Yana

    Hi, I absolutely LOVE your website! God bless you and keep up the awesome work! 🙂 Maybe I missed it but I don’t see a baking time for the layers in this recipe–?

    · Reply
    • Hi Yana, thank you for your wonderful comment 🙂 I appreciate it 🙂
      There’s no specific baking time because depending on your oven, type of pan and the amount of batter, the times will vary. You can bake it for about 13+ minutes (really depends) and once it starts to smell like cake in your kitchen, you can open the oven and check with a toothpick (in the middle), if it comes out clean, then you can remove the cake from the oven. Do not overbake or the cake will not be moist. 🙂
      Once again, thanks for your comment 🙂

      · Reply
  • Anna

    So for the cake that you photographed here, did you bake only 1 layer poppy seed and then 1 later chocolate? And then just cut each in half to get 2 layers of each? And how long do the layers bake approximately?

    · Reply
    • If you have two baking pans then you can make the batter at the same time, then split it in two, add poppy seeds to one half and cocoa to another. Stir. Pour poppy seed batter into one pan and cocoa batter into another one. Bake at the same time.
      If not, just split the proportions in two and bake one at a time.
      You can follow instructions for baking times from the recipe, but as soon as a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, the cake layers are done.

      · Reply
  • Anna

    To make a cake shown in the pictures (with 2 chocolate and 2 poppy seed layers) should I cut the entire recipe in 1/2? You said 3/4 in the beginning and I’m a little confused….

    · Reply
    • If you want to make a 6 inch cake, then split the recipe in half.
      If you want an 8-9 inch cake then take only 3/4 of the ingredient amounts
      for a 10 inch cake, do not change the recipe amounts.
      Hope this helps, if it does not, let me know.

      · Reply
  • Lesia

    I think I love you

    · Reply
  • Mila

    Marina Thank You for recepie. It’s so easy and fast. We had fun wiht kids, by making and than eating it too.

    · Reply
    • You’re welcome Mila! This has to be the easiest cake to make for sure)

      · Reply

    for the cake in your picture, did you use cooked or uncooked evaporated milk in the frosting?

    · Reply
    • It’s sweetened condensed milk, not evaporated milk.
      For the cake in the picture I used uncooked, but you can you either. I personally like it with cooked, but some of my family likes it with uncooked.

      · Reply
  • Marina

    It is indeed! Thanks for your comment!

    · Reply
  • Natasha of

    Wow what a lovely cake. Thank you for sharing. Looks like a holiday cake for sure!

    · Reply

As seen in