Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Desserts | Published May 14, 2023 | Updated May 13, 2023 | By Tawnie
My Lemon Poppyseed Cake is moist, sweet, buttery and packed with plenty of lemony flavor. Each delectable slice is filled with poppyseeds that have subtle, sweet notes.
Other reader favorite lemon desserts include this Lemon Pound Cake, Lemon Curd Cookies, Lemon Poppyseed Muffins and Lemon Poppyseed Scones.
This cake is the perfect Spring and Summer treat perfect for breakfast, an afternoon snack, with a cup of tea, or with ice cream for dessert.
Table of contents
I have a few tricks up my sleeve that helps keep my cake super moist and delicious. First, the heavy cream helps to create a soft, tight crumb. Second, the lemon infused simple syrup poured onto the cake after it bakes helps to ensure a moist crumb. Your cake will stay soft for days!
I love the scent of lemon especially when zesting it for the cake batter. I always recommend rubbing the sugar and lemon zest between your fingertips to create a lemon sugar because it helps release the natural oils from the lemon and infuse more lemon flavor into the cake.
This Lemon Poppyseed Cake is truly for my lemon dessert lovers!
Why this recipe works:
- The heavy cream and lemon simple syrup help to create an ultra-moist crumb.
- It’s easy to make
- It is filled with lemony goodness!
- The lemon zest infused into the sugar add more lemony flavors.
- The butter helps to create a rich, tender cake.
For the ingredient measurements and entire recipe, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the blog post where the recipe card is located.
- Granulated sugar: Creaming the sugar with the butter aerates the butter leaving bubbles that will capture the gases from the leavener (baking powder). More bubbles makes for a lighter texture and finer crumb.
- Lemon zest: I used the most common lemon, the lisbon, but you could also use a Meyer lemon, which has a sweeter taste profile.
- Softened unsalted butter: bring the butter to room temperature prior to creaming with the sugar. The ingredients blend more evenly and the cake will cook evenly too.
- Eggs: the eggs add richness and structure to the cake. Your eggs should also be at room temperature.
- Heavy cream: the fat content helps with the richness of this cake as well as the moistness.
- Milk: helps to hydrate the cake batter. I use whole milk.
- Cake flour: I love using cake flour since it gives this cake it’s light and fluffy texture.
- Baking powder: Be accurate when measuring baking powder. Too little and the cake will not rise as much as it should, too much baking powder and baked goods may fall.
- Poppyseeds: of course.
- Lemon extract: Using lemon extract adds a strong lemon flavor without adding bitterness.
Step by Step Directions
For the full recipe instructions, scroll down to the bottom of the blog post to the recipe card.
- Line a 9×5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Sift together the dry ingredients.
- Whisk together the heavy cream, milk, and lemon extract.
- Rub the lemon zest and sugar together.
- Cream the butter and lemon sugar together.
- Add the eggs, one at a time.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and heavy cream mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Bake for ~53 minutes at 350°F.
- Meanwhile, make simple syrup.
- Pour simple syrup over cake.
- Cool, glaze and enjoy.
Expert Tips and Variations
- If you would like to freeze the cake, I recommend waiting to frost it. If wrapped securely, it will last up to 2 months in the freezer. When ready to enjoy, defrost on the counter and then add the frosting.
- I recommend using a light colored aluminum pan because they enable even, controlled heat resulting in a gentle heat and tender crumb. You can use a glass pan, just note the bake time will take longer. I haven’t tested this recipe in a glass pan to recommend how much longer. If you try in a different pan, be sure to leave a comment below to let us know how it went!
- Change up the citrus and use orange, limes or even grapefruit instead of lemon!
- Want more lemony goodness with this cake? Make my Lemon Curd and enjoy with it!
- Don’t skip rubbing the zest into the sugar. This helps being out the oils in the lemon zest to make your Lemon Poppyseed Cake more flavorful and lemony.
- Prior to juicing the lemons, microwave them for 10-20 seconds to maximize the juice you can get out!
- For presentation, sprinkle poppyseeds on top of the icing, or add thin slices of lemon.
Yes you can. Make sure you cover it completely and it will last for 1-2 days on the counter, but then after that I like to refrigerate it for up to 4 days.
Thanks to the lemon simple syrup, this loaf is plenty sweet without out. But I think it adds a nice finishing touch.
Yes, use a gluten free 1-1 flour such as Bob’s Red Mill.
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Lemon Poppyseed Cake
For the cake
- 1 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. poppyseeds
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. lemon zest (zest from 2 lemons)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tsp. lemon extract
For the lemon syrup
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
For the icing
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice, fresh
- 1 Tbsp. heavy cream or milk (optional to thin out glaze)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a light colored aluminum 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Then whisk in the poppyseeds. Set aside.
- Combine the sugar and lemon zest together in the bowl for the stand mixer. Rub the sugar and lemon zest between your fingertips to create a lemon sugar. This helps release the natural oils and infuse more lemon flavor into the cake.
- With the mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and lemon sugar together for 4-5 minutes or until light in color and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 20 seconds in between or until most of the egg is combined.
- Whisk together the heavy cream, milk and lemon extract in a measuring cup. Then on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture with the heavy cream mixture adding just a little at a time, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, make the lemon simple syrup. Pour the sugar and water into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat and stir just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Pour into a glass measuring cup and allow to cool to room temperature.
- While the bread is still warm, poke holes all over the top of the cake with a toothpick and pour the lemon simple syrup all over the cake. Allow the simple syrup to soak into the cake for 15-20 minutes. Use the parchment paper overhang to lift the cake from the pan and set on a cooling rack.
- Cool completely. Then whisk together the ingredients for the glaze until smooth. Pour glaze over the top and spread evenly. Slice and enjoy!
- Storage: Cover it completely and it will last for 1-2 days on the counter, but then after that (if there is still any leftover) I like to refrigerate it for up to 4 days.
- To freeze: after letting the simple syrup soak in the cake and allowing the cake to cool completely, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer safe baggie. Freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw and then glaze when ready to enjoy.
Hi, I’m Tawnie!
Welcome to my tiny “korner” on the Internet! I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who loves cookies as much as kale. (OK, maybe I like cookies a little bit more but shh, don’t tell anyone). I am so glad you’re here! Follow along for hassle free, realistic and approachable recipes.More about Tawnie
Delicious and moist !
yay I am so glad you enjoyed it!! Thank you!!