Fluffy Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
As a child, I spent long, happy hours on lazy afternoons searching the clouds for familiar shapes. Puffy whales, fat kittens, and bumpy dinosaurs made frequent appearances. Now, every time I look up, I see big, fluffy slices of Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake reminds me of a cloud in every way. It’s delightfully airy, yet has a distinct, lovely shape that is firm enough to stand up to a hot cup of coffee. It’s dreamy with a bright, citrusy flavor that bids my mind to wander to faraway places.
It’s also transitional: not rich enough to be a “cake” in the traditional sense, but a little too sweet to be a “bread.” Impervious to this ambiguity, Lemon Poppy Seed Cake drifts nonchalantly between both categories, too confident in its own delectability to be bothered by silly things like baked good definitions. Considering I enjoyed the slice I ate for breakfast as much as I did the one I had for dessert, I’m not worried about it either.
This lovely lemon cake (or bread or cloud—take your pick) is delightfully springy in both texture and flavor. The secret to its soft, spongy texture is yeast. I added a packet of Red Star Platinum Instant Yeast to the batter, then left the batter rise in the bundt pan.
Important note: this batter requires no kneading—the yeast gives the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake a unique texture, but all you’ll need to make it is a basic hand mixer. Simply add the yeast with the rest of the ingredients: plenty of lemon zest, peppy poppy seeds, good vanilla extract, golden butter, Greek yogurt, and whole wheat pastry flour. This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake a yogi-master blend of health and decadence.
In addition to the yeast, the other essential component to this Lemon Poppy Seed Cake is a 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 trickles into the tiny air pockets created by the yeast, infusing every bite with citrus, and makes the edges extra lemony and addictively fun to pick off and munch with your fingers.
For a last, sunny kiss, give the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake a generous drizzle of creamy lemon glaze. I don’t think I need to tell you that everything about this is a good idea.
In addition to seeing this coffee cake whenever I look into the sky, I’m also envisioning it as a beautiful centerpiece to your Easter brunch table, a lazy weekend breakfast treat, and a midnight snack escapade (or three).
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
For the Cake:
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour — or substitute all purpose flour
- 1 packet Red Star Platinum Instant Yeast
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs — at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt — or sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
For the Lemon Soak:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice — (2 large lemons)
For the Lemon Glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon milk
Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt or tube pan. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.
In a microwave-safe bowl or saucepan, heat the milk and butter to the temperature specified by the yeast manufacturer (120 to 130 degrees for Red Star Platinum Instant Yeast). Stir the liquid together well before taking the temperature, and for best results, use a digital read thermometer. The liquid should feel hotter than lukewarm, but not so hot that it is uncomfortable or burns.
Add the milk mixture to the flour and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, all purpose flour, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon zest, and poppy seeds. Beat on high for 2 minutes.
Spread the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour. Towards the end of the cake's rising time, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake the cake for 20 to 25 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
While the cake is baking, make the lemon soak: Place the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Let stand at room temperature while the cake bakes. Once the cake is turned out of the pan, pour half of the soak all over the outside of the warm cake, let absorb for 30 seconds, then pour the remaining half over.
To prepare glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and milk in a small bowl, until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cake and serve.
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More lovely, fluffy cakes for your brunch table:
- Strawberry Lemonade Coffee Cake
- Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake from Diethood
- Grandma’s Butter Bundt Coffee Cake
- Peaches and Cream Coffee Cake from Tidy Mom
I’m sharing this post in partnership with Red Star Yeast. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue providing quality content to you. For more recipe ideas and inspiration, check out Red Star Yeast on Facebook and Pinterest too!
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