Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake is a sweet, tart, moist, amazingly delicious cake. Such a bright, happy flavor! - Bake or Break

I recently found myself with an abundance of lemons and couldn’t quite decide how best to use them. So I took to Instagram and asked what everyone thought I should make. I got lots of really good and inspiring answers, but there seemed to be a good bit of excitement surrounding the prospect of a Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.

It’s a bit of a mystery how I’d never shared a recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with you after all these years. This seemed like the obvious time to remedy that, so I got to work thinking about cake recipes, possible toppings, and just how much lemon is enough lemon.

Most interpretations of this kind of cake seem to be either dense loaves or Bundts. I wanted to do something a bit different, though. I opted for a lighter, softer cake that has the most amazing crumb. I could really just enjoy little bites of this tasty, moist cake all on its own!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake is a sweet, tart, moist, amazingly delicious cake. Such a bright, happy flavor! - Bake or Break

As for topping options, I considered a simple lemon glaze, but I feared it would get a bit lost with all the lemon in the cake. So I talked myself into a cream cheese frosting. Not that there was much inner turmoil, mind you. I’ll take pretty much any excuse to incorporate cream cheese frosting. For this particular frosting, I flavored it with even more lemon. Of course, if you want to keep the lemon flavor a bit more in check, you can substitute vanilla extract or almond extract.

I adore the big lemon flavor in this cake. And those crunchy, slightly nutty-tasting poppy seeds are a terrific addition for flavor and texture. And then the frosting (with even more lemon!) really adds to that big, bright, happy flavor.

I have to tell you that there were some trying times in getting to the result you see here. Let’s just say that I spent a good bit of time cleaning up lemon juice from my counter and floor. But I persevered for the sake of dessert, and I can now happily share this luscious lemon cake with you! Enjoy!

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Yield: 15 to 20 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake is a sweet, tart, moist, amazingly delicious cake. Such a bright, happy flavor!

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • zest of 2 medium lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • juice of 2 medium lemons*
  • 1 cup milk

For the frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • juice of 1/2 medium lemon*
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9″x 13″x 2″ baking pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the lemon juice.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three portions, alternating with two portions of milk. Mix just until combined.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan.

To make the frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, butter, and lemon juice until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, mixing well.
  2. Spread the frosting over the top of the cooled cake.

Notes:

If you want a bit less lemon, reserve 2 to 3 teaspoons of lemon juice from the lemons from the cake to use in the frosting. Or substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract for the lemon juice in the frosting.