Holiday Baking

How much do you bake for the holidays?  In our family there were always weeks of baking leading up to the many many parties and “get togethers” with family and friends where cookie trays, home-made candies and yummy holiday breads were given as gifts.

While reading a blog post from Fourth Generation Farmgirl, about family heirlooms and how heirlooms sometimes are not an antique watch or piece of furniture but can be something as simple as a recipe enjoyed by family; I started thinking about my family heirlooms.  She went on to share her great grandmother’s recipe for tomato soup that has been handed down from generation to generation making it the best kind of heirloom; one that is kept, enjoyed, honored and shared.

This prompted me to think about my own grandmother and her selfless giving of her time and energies as well as her amazing baking.  Every year on my birthday, Grandma made me a poppy seed cake baked in an angel food type ring pan.  It was dense, moist and comforting.  Grandma often made this cake for church suppers, family parties and gift giving at the holidays.  After Grandma passed away I asked Grandpa for Grandma’s cookbook.  I figured he probably wouldn’t be baking and I just had to have the recipe for her delicious poppy seed cake.  He willingly gave me her only cookbook and it is one of my treasured possessions; truly an heirloom to me.

After reading the entire cookbook wouldn’t you know it, the recipe wasn’t in there.  What utter disappointment!  I didn’t know where to turn, I craved that cake and it had been years since I tasted Grandma’s poppy seed cake.  So as usual, I turned to Mom.  Unaware that I asked Grandpa for Grandma’s cookbook, Mom was a little surprised that I wanted the recipe.  She also had a good laugh at my expense.  You see, the recipe was never in any cookbook or even on a recipe card and apparently everyone in the family knew where it came from except me.  It was on the back of the label of Solo Poppy Seed Filling.  Just peel the label off the can and there it is!  Right there on the label all the time.  Crazy I know!

These recipes on the back of products are often the best because they are tried and true and continue to delight even after years and years of use.  My grandmother made this cake for so many occasions over many years and even though it was developed by the Solo Foods Company I will always think of it as Grandma’s Poppy Seed Bread.  All it takes is one bite of this yummy cake and POOF! I am 10 years old again and Grandma is telling me how much she loves me.  Isn’t it amazing how a seemingly insignificant thing as a bit of cake can evoke such strong memories?

What kind of baking do you do for the holidays?


Poppy Seed Tea Bread

Makes 1 Bundt cake, 2 large loaves, 4 small loaves or 24 muffins


Combine in bowl and set aside:

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt


  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup margarine, or butter softened


  • 1 can Solo Poppy Seed Filling
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease & flour a 12 cup bundt pan or tub pan and set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream butter & sugar till light & fluffy.
  3. Add poppy seed filling and blend.
  4. Add egg yolks on at a time beating after each one.
  5. Add sour cream & vanilla.
  6. Stir in flour mixture and set batter aside.
  7. In a clean dry bowl using an electric mixer beat egg whites till stiff peaks form.
  8. Fold beaten egg whites into batter.
  9. Spread in the prepared Bundt pan.
  10. Bake at 350F for 1 ¼ hours or till tester comes out clean.
  11. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto rack to cool completely.
  12. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving (optional).
  13. Enjoy!

This recipe can be baked as muffins or baked in loaf pans.  Muffins bake for 20 – 25 minutes or till tester comes out clean.  Small loaf pans bake for 45 minutes or till tester comes out clean.  Large loaves bake for 55 – 60 minutes or till tester comes out clean.

Store at room temperature in air tight container.  Freezes well for up to 3 months.




  1. Mum used to make her Christmas puddings in October. I used to make my cake in September, dose it once a month with brandy until the beginning of December when I’d give it a final dose and seal it with marzipan, then ice it the week before Christmas. In later years, I baked for my in-laws as I never knew what to get them, and made sweets for about 6 years running as they proved very popular with my workmates (that first year we were broke and I got something like 30 gifts out of an outlay of £15 for ingredients!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • We too had limited funds for gift giving which led to homemade gifts. Baking is a tradition in our family and always brings a smile to the recipient’s face. I love fruit cake but here in the US most people make fun of those so for now I have stopped making my Aunt Kay’s fruitcake recipe even though it is wonderful. Her recipe makes to much that I cannot find people that truly love it…..too much labor and cost to waste on someone that doesn’t love it.


  2. Strange you should post about seasonal baking today; I’ve been baking my grandma’s Christmas cake today. It’s very late; grandmother would have made it in April, one of a pair, one for my birthday in May, one maturing until Christmas. I used to do the same but as my wife doesn’t like fruit cake I stopped. Then last year I sent one to a friend for her birthday and she was so enthusiastic I find myself making them again, albeit rather late. I eat it, following Yorkshire tradition, with Wensleydale cheese.
    Your grandma’s poppy seed cake looks delicious and I’d love to make it but I have no idea what Solo poppy seed filling consists of though I always have poppy seeds in the cupboard to put them in breads and cakes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes I think I should have been born in the UK. I love Christmas cakes, fruit cakes, etc. My Aunt Kay’s recipe for fruit cake is fantastic! But, sadly I do not make it since my family’s fruitcake lovers are no longer with us. I need to cultivate some more fruitcake loving friends. Hard to find in the US since so many people make fun of fruit cake, there are even fruitcake throwing contests….a travesty to me. I like the idea of a Christmas cake with Wensleydale cheese. Interesting combination but I bet it’s tasty.
      The poppy seed cake Grandma made is more of a quick bread like banana bread but denser with the addition of sour cream. Solo Poppy Seed filling is a paste made of poppy seeds and other things. It is used in baking poppy seed filled rolls or croissants, and other baking. It is available in most grocery stores here and on Amazon if you’d like to try it.


  3. I’ve never heard of the poppy seed filling. My grandma used to have a recipe for poppy seed cake, though, that I used to love. I was surprised, too, when I finally got that recipe years ago. It started with a box of cake mix, and she put a couple of things in it, including poppy seeds! What a surprise. I had envisioned a complicated, traditional recipe, as I liked it so much! Now that I’m gluten-free, I have found recipes for lemon-poppy seed muffins and quick breads that I like. I was super glad to find poppy seeds on clearance yesterday–I got a lot, and am ready to go again. Your cake looks great!

    Liked by 1 person

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