My parents are Ukrainian and I grew up in a small, close-knit Ukrainian community in Adelaide. The post-war generation of immigrants from Ukraine made amazing cakes. I looked forward to going to Ukrainian functions because one woman, in particular, made the best makovyi torte.
Poppy seeds are a symbol of fertility and prosperity, and sweets containing them are popular in Ukraine. Of the 12 courses served at Christmas, there’s always kutia (barley pudding containing poppy seeds, honey and nuts). My twin sister, Julie, and I used to make all kinds of poppy seed cakes, but this chocolate version is my favourite. Now that Julie lives in the US, making this cake reminds me of cooking with her. I also bake it to reminisce about living in Kiev for four years in the 1990s and to celebrate special occasions.
Interview by Anna Fedeles.
Photography by Katie Kaars.
As seen in Feast magazine, December 2011, Issue 4. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.