Infused with fresh lemon syrup, topped with sweet lemon glaze, and packed with lemon zest and juicy, every piece of this fluffy, moist Lemon Poppy Seed Cake is a slice of sunshine!
This lemon poppy seed bundt cake is one of those wonderful recipes that you can find justification to munch at any time of day.
- Like my Grandma’s Bundt Coffee Cake, makes a delightful pairing with a cup of coffee in the morning.
- Like Lemon Blueberry Cake, it also is a lovely way to end a meal.
- And like Lemon Cake, it hits the spot when you are craving a dessert that’s bubbly and bright.
5 Star Review
“Delicious and very quick to make. The crumb is moist and fluffy as described. My cake looks identical to the one pictured with the recipe, both inside and out.”— Sadie —
How to Make Moist Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
This classic lemon poppy seed bundt cake (or loaf—take your pick) is imbued with bright lemon flavor that lifts it right off of the plate.
Buttermilk and Greek yogurt make the cake moist.
Wholesome ingredients like whole wheat flour and honey make it this lemon poppy seed cake healthy compared to most.
- Flour. Did you know you can replace up to 50 percent of the all-purpose flour in most recipes with white whole wheat flour? It’s a healthy swap I make often that has minimal impact on the final taste and texture and maximum impact on nutritional content.
- Baking Powder + Baking Soda. Our leaveners that give this cake its beautiful rise, that gets mixed into the flour mixture.
- Sugar + Honey. Sweetens the cake and adds moisture.
- Lemon Zest. Rub the zest into the sugar for bright lemony flavor that permeates every inch of this moist lemon poppyseed cake. (For another lemon dessert that also uses plenty of zest try this Almond Flour Cake.)
- Butter. Helps the cake rise, makes the cake tender, and provides that one-of-a-kind butter taste.
- Eggs. For richness, softness, and structure.
When baking lemon poppyseed cake (and most baked goods, like these Orange Muffins with Poppy Seeds) it’s best to start with eggs at room temperature to ensure your batter mixes up smoothly.
- Low-Fat Buttermilk. Adds moisture and a bit of fat to the cake along with a subtle tang (it’s also the key ingredient in this Buttermilk Cake).
- Greek Yogurt. Lemon poppyseed cake with sour cream may be more traditional, but personally, I prefer making my lemon poppyseed cake with Greek yogurt to give it a nutritional boost of protein.
- Lemon Juice. Is in the batter, lemon soak, AND lemon glaze for a layered trifecta of lemony goodness. (If you love lemon treats, try this Lemon Poke Cake.)
Please DO NOT use a plastic bottle of lemon juice for this recipe. Go for freshly squeezed lemon juice. It makes a world of difference in the final taste of this cake. Trust me.
- Vanilla Extract + Almond Extract. I love using a duo of both a tsp vanilla and almond extracts in this lemon poppyseed bundt.
- Poppy Seeds. Not one, not two, but THREE full tablespoons of poppyseeds pepper the interior of this cake giving it plenty of texture and subtle crunch. (Wondering what to do with any extra poppyseeds? Serve this lemon poppyseed cake with this colorful, healthy Fruit Salad.)
- Lemon Soak. Nothing but lemon juice and sugar dissolved together in a saucepan, this simple syrup is imperative to the cake’s supreme moisture and lemony flavor. It’s a fantastic trick to have in your baking arsenal.
- Glaze. For a last, sunny kiss, give the lemon cake a generous drizzle of creamy lemon frosting made with powder sugar and (more) freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Stir together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Rub the sugar and lemon zest together.
- Add the remaining wet ingredients to the lemon/sugar mixture.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix with rubber spatula until combined, then stir in the poppyseeds.
- Pour batter to a greased and floured bundt pan.
- Bake the lemon poppy seed cake until the cake looks nicely browned at the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
For an even bake, I like to rotate the bundt pan 180 degrees about halfway through baking.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for several minutes, loosen the sides as needed, then invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the lemon cake soak.
- Spoon the soak slowly over the cake. Let sit for 30 minutes. To finish, whisk together the glaze then drizzle over the cake. Cut into slices to serve. Add some fresh lemon slices for a fun garnish! ENJOY!
- To Store. Lemon poppyseed cake may be stored at room temperature for 3 to 4 days or refrigerated for up to 1 week.
- To Freeze. Lemon poppyseed cake may be kept in the freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge, then allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Mixing Bowls. This nested glass set is a must-have for any baker.
- Wire Rack. For cooling the bundt and makes pouring the glaze over the cake a breeze.
- Bundt Pan. This large non-stick bundt pan is one of my all-time favorites.
Breakfast, afternoon snack, or dessert: every time is the right time for lemon poppy seed cake!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! In baking recipes that call for plain Greek yogurt, sour cream can be used instead.
If you have a trusted 1:1 gluten-free baking mix that you have used in the past with success (I like this one), I suspect it would also work with this lemon poppy seed cake. If you give it a try, let me know how it goes.
Yes. In theory, you could omit the lemon soak from the recipe. However, I strongly recommend preparing the cake with the soak since it gives the cake so much added moisture, necessary sweetness, and a lovely lemon flavor.
Some will ask if this can be made in loaf pans, sheet pans, or into layers using round cake pans. Unfortunately I have not been able to test this cake in any other pan other then the bundt cake pan so you would be experimenting if you do! I would LOVE to know how it works out!
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
For the Cake:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour or substitute regular whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Zest of 5 medium lemons
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled to room temperature
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups low fat buttermilk well shaken
- 2/3 cup whole milk Greek yogurt (about 6 ounces)
- 1/2 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
For the Lemon Soak:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed (about 2 large lemons)
For the Lemon Glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan or spray with floured baking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, briskly whisk together the all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate large bowl, place the granulated sugar. Zest the lemons directly into the sugar, then with your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until it is moist and fragrant.
- Add the butter, eggs, buttermilk, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, honey, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Briskly whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, then gradually increase the speed to medium-low and continue mixing until the ingredients are thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds to 1 minute more. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl, then mix again on low speed for 1 minute. Stir in the poppy seeds.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees. Continue baking for 15 to 25 minutes more, until the cake looks nicely browned at the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Place the pan on a wire rack set over a baking sheet (the sheet will be to catch cake soak drips). Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Use a thin, sharp knife to check around the edges and loosen any that are stuck, then invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely.
- While the cake bakes, prepare the soak. In a small saucepan, heat the lemon juice and sugar together on high, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
- Once the cake has been unmolded, spoon half of the soak slowly over the cake so that the cake can absorb it. Wait 1 minute, then slowly spoon on the rest of the soak. Let sit 30 minutes.
- To finish, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice, adding a little more sugar or lemon juice to make a thick but pourable, smooth glaze. Drizzle generously over the cake, allowing some to drip down the sides. Transfer the cake to a serving plate (you also can glaze the cake directly on the serving plate if you like scooping bonus dripped glaze onto slices). Slice and enjoy at room temperature.
- NOTE: Nutrition has been calculated with half of the amount of cake soak, as a portion of the soak is inevitably lost. If you’d prefer your own calculation, you make do so for free at myfitnesspal.com
- TO STORE: Lemon poppyseed cake may be stored at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.
- TO FREEZE: Lemon poppyseed cake may be kept in the freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge, then allow to come to room temperature before serving.
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