Lemon Poppyseed Cake

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This Lemon Poppyseed Cake is a tender, moist cake that’s full of lemon flavor and poppy seeds! It’s covered in a light lemon cream cheese frosting for a cake that’s perfect for lemon lovers!

It’s no secret around here that I love a tasty lemon dessert. I have quite a variety of lemon flavored cakes and this is my latest. Believe it or not – it might just be my favorite!

LEMON POPPYSEED CAKE RECIPE

What I love so much about this cake is the lemon flavor. It’s perfection. There’s a large variety when it comes to lemon cake flavor, but I really love a strong flavor in pretty much anything I eat. That can be tough with lemon, but this cake is just right.

To make this amazing cake, start with both butter and oil. The butter lends that wonderful flavor, while the oil helps with keeping the cake moist. Beat them with some sugar and vanilla extract on medium speed until the mixture lightens in color and gets a fluffier texture, about two minutes.

Next, you’ll add the eggs, then alternate adding the dry ingredients with the milk and fresh lemon juice. For our leavener, we’ve got both baking powder and baking soda in order to properly balance the acid in the lemon juice.

Finally, you’ll add some lemon zest and poppy seeds.

A slice of Lemon Poppyseed Cake with a bite removed next to a fork on a gray plate
A full Lemon Poppyseed Cake on a gray cake stand on a white table

WHY ADD POPPY SEEDS?

Poppy seeds add both flavor and a little crunch. They also contain a good bit of fiber, calcium, copper, phosphorus and magnesium. All are good and healthy things. Clearly that means this cake is healthy too! 😉

That said, this cake could also be made without them.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

This Lemon Poppyseed Cake is finished off with my favorite Cream Cheese Frosting, with a little bit of lemon juice and lemon zest added. It adds a subtle lemon flavor, which goes great with the cake.

The final cake is nothing short of delicious! The combination of the full flavored, moist lemon cake with the light flavor of the poppy seeds and cream cheese frosting is heavenly. It’s a wonderful combination of sweet and tangy and such a wonderful citrusy cake for spring and summer. I seriously wanted to sit down with a fork and just eat it one sitting. I hope you love it too!

A slice of Lemon Poppyseed Cake next to a fork on a gray plate

MORE LEMON DESSERTS TO TRY

Lemon Cake with Lemon Bavarian Cream
Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake
No Bake Lemon Cheesecake
Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake
Lemon Meringue Cheesecake
Triple Lemon Cake

Print
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A slice of Lemon Poppyseed Cake next to a fork on a gray plate
Recipe

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Lemon Poppyseed Cake is a tender, moist cake that’s full of lemon flavor and poppy seeds! It’s covered in a light lemon cream cheese frosting for a cake that’s perfect for lemon lovers!


Ingredients

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 oz (452g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (172g) butter, room temperature
  • 10 cups (1150g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon zest

Instructions

1. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
3. Add the butter, oil, sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
6. Combine the milk and lemon juice, then slowly add the mixture to the batter and mix until well combined.
7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
8. Add the lemon zest and poppy seeds and gently stir to combine.
9. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
10. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
11. To make the frosting, add the cream cheese and butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until well combined and smooth.
12. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
13. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix until well combined.
14. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth. Add more or less powdered sugar, as desired for consistency purposes.
15. To put the cake together, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat, if needed.
16. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
17. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.
18. Add the second layer of cake and another cup of frosting.
19. Top the cake with the remaining layer and frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed. To make the line pattern in the side of the cake, I used one of the decorative sides on this icing smoother.
20. Finish off the cake as you like. I added rosettes around the top outer edge and sprinkled on some poppy seeds. I also added some lemon slices.
21. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve. Cake is best served cool, but not necessarily cold.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 715
  • Sugar: 94.3 g
  • Sodium: 263.6 mg
  • Fat: 26.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 115 g
  • Protein: 7.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 89.4 mg

Keywords: lemon poppyseed cake, lemon poppyseed dessert, lemon cake recipe, lemon frosting recipe, best lemon cake, easy lemon cake

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338 Comments
  1. Gina

    This looks perfect for my daughter’s wedding cake. How many cups of batter does it make, I need 8 cups for one 8×3 and one 6×3.

  2. Saira

    I love this recipe! I have made it several times but have you made it as cupcakes? And if so did you have to adjust anything

  3. Dannielle

    I made this for a friend’s baby shower and it was a real crowdpleaser.
    The crumb was very tender and very light and fluffy. I think that tip to not skimp on the creaming of the butter, oil and sugar was key to this.
    The eggs I had on hand were small, so I used five instead of the four large eggs the recipe called for. And I only had 25cm/10 inch cake tins, so I just split the batter into two instead. It worked out great!
    I also probably only added about three quarters of the powdered sugar the icing recipe called for – the Australian equivalent to powdered sugar is called icing sugar, so it might be a bit different to the US version.
    Thanks for the cracking recipe!

    1. Lindsay

      When making 6 inch cakes from my full-size cakes, I typically cut the recipe in half. If you want three 6 inch cakes, you would need one and a half recipes worth.

  4. Jessie

    Hi! I would love to try your cake. Is it possible to bake in one 8 inch round tin and subsequently cut it into 3 layers?

  5. Cat Nanny

    I am making the lemon poppy seed cake today. I was wondering if you had tried using half vanilla extract and half lemon extract and if so how did it turn out?

    1. Lindsay

      I have not tried that. I typically stay away from lemon extract and just use natural lemon flavors from lemon juice and zest. I don’t really think it’s necessary to add the extract, but you could certainly give it a try.

    1. Lindsay

      It’s the Ateco brand icing smoother. One side is smooth and the other sides have patterns like this cake.

  6. Amy

    I am going to use this recipe to make for my daughters wedding cake. I am curious if you can share the rose designs you did on the top. They are beautiful and I would like to try and do them. Thank you!

    1. Lindsay

      I have two tutorials that you might find helpful. One is this ice cream cake tutorial. You can ignore the part about making the actual ice cream cake and look at the part about adding the roses on top.

      I also have a tutorial about frosting cupcakes that talks about how to make rosettes. I hope those are helpful!

  7. Dana

    I’m using a different frosting, making the cake for a friend’s birthday. She has severe lactose intolerance. I plan to use a bit of lemon curd between layers and in the center of the top. Will this cake be ok in the fridge overnight?

  8. Tanya

    Really nice cake. I used grapefruit juice and made a grapefruit curd for the centre. I used ermine frosting and replaced half the milk with curd. Really lovely and I really don’t like grapefruit. I also took 25g of the plain flour out and replaced with cornflour.
    Anyway, cake is a winner!

  9. Stefanie

    Hi, I want to make this cake for a birthday party and was wondering if it can be made into a 3 layer 10” cake instead of an 8”? And could I double the recipe or would it be best to do separate batches?

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t tried that size, but it should be fine. I would expect doubling the recipe to be fine as well.

    1. Lindsay

      I typically recommend freezing individual layers before building the cake. You can wrap the layers in plastic wrap a couple times and even add them to a plastic freezer bag for extra protection. When you’re ready to use them, thaw them in the fridge. If you are wanting to freeze the fully frosted cake, you can definitely try it. This cake would probably do well. I do recommend thawing it in the fridge though.

  10. Maree

    I’m struggling to find unsalted butter – is this going to make a difference? I’m not based in America.

  11. Anna

    I have made this recipe 3 times now and every time I make it, it is a hit! Everyone loves it! This cake started my interest in learning how to bake more and I’m hoping to bake my way through more of your recipes! 🙂

  12. Rachel Reed

    I made this cake for my birthday last year and it was a huge hit! I’d love to make it again, however I recently found out I can’t have gluten. Do you know if can simply substitute gluten free flour for all purpose? Thank you so much!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m not terribly familiar with gluten free needs. I do think a gluten free flour would work, I’m just not sure of other substitutions.

  13. M. Dosogne

    I made this cake recipe as a tester for a wedding, and it was the favorite of three!

    That said, I made a few changes to suit the bride’s taste: for the cake, I used 5 tbsp of poppy seeds. I put a generous amount of lemon curd between the cake layers to add (even more) flavor and moisture, and to glaze the sides of the cake (applied while it and the cake were still warm – not hot). For the frosting, I used cream-cheese icing on the top of the cake only (iced while still warm, but before stacking on the rest of the cake). The icing is soft and not too sweet, to avoid overwhelming the cheese and lemon flavors.

    lemon curd: beat 2 eggs, add 6tbsp lemon juice, zest of 2 lemons, 1 cup sugar, whisk. add 1/4 cup butter. cook in a saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally until it thickens (10-15min)

    lemon-flavored cream cheese icing: 125g cream cheese, 2tbsp soft half-salt butter, 1tsp lemon extract, 1tsp lemon juice, 2 cups icing sugar (approx), whisked until fluffy. Icing is soft, and can easily be spread (add more sugar or use less lemon juice to harden it for piping).

  14. Heather

    I’m making these into cupcakes. I have some buttermilk from another recipe, can I use that instead of the regular milk?

    1. Lindsay

      If you bake the recipe as-is in three 6 inch pans, you’ll get quite a tall cake. You could cut it in half for a cake that’s about 3 1/2 inches tall.

    2. Tanya

      I made in 2 x 6 inch tins. Baked on 160°C for 45 minutes. Cut both in half and had 4 layers. Cake turned out 4 1/5 inches tall. I did put curd in between each layer

  15. Marian

    Followed cake recipe exactly, except made recipe into cupcakes with a lemon swiss meringue butter cream. Makes 24 cupcakes, cooking time shorter of course. Just so perfect, turned out light, fluffy, not dry and a wonderful lemon flavour. I’ll be keeping this recipe. Definitely would be an amazing layer cake. Thank you.

    1. Lindsay

      I go through my flour pretty quickly so it never really seems to be lumpy, but if yours seems like it needs it then feel free to sift it. It certainly won’t hurt. I’m not personally a big cake flour fan, but you could try it.

    2. Jacquelyn

      Made this recipe 3x now, it’s just lovely. I want to prepare the cake ahead of time for a bday, does it freeze well after frosting or should I frost the day of?

      1. Lindsay

        So glad you enjoy it! I don’t really freeze full cakes, so it’s hard for me to say for sure. I imagine it would be ok if you wrap it well and then thaw it in the fridge.

  16. Sarah

    Wow, this was so easy and so delicious! Everyone loved it. Light, fluffy, moist, and flavorful. I actually used a whipped cream and mascarpone frosting that I’m obsessed with instead of the cream cheese frosting, but I bet the cream cheese frosting would have been delicious, too. Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Lindsay

      So glad you enjoyed it! I have another lemon cake recipe that I use mascarpone whipped cream on and that is certainly delicious as well.

  17. Barbara

    I made this cake, following the recipe exactly, for a family gathering yesterday and it was absolutely perfect!
    I am wondering if it can be frozen if made in advance.

    1. Lindsay

      So glad you enjoyed it! I don’t typically recommend freezing full cakes, but you could try it. I’d wrap it well and then thaw it in the fridge so that you don’t get too much condensation forming. You could also freeze the layers, if you make just those ahead of time.

    1. Lindsay

      This cake is excellent, so I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get the intended results. I’d make sure your baking soda and baking powder were still good. I’d also invest in a food scale to be sure my ingredients are measured accurately, if you don’t have one already. Also, be sure to fully cream the butter and sugar at the beginning and not to over-mix the batter at the end.

  18. Ellen Marie

    I only have 2 8 inch pans and there is a blizzard on the way so I cant get more. Should I reduce everything by 1/3?

    1. Lindsay

      It depends on what you want. You could also bake two layers and hold the third and bake it after the other two. Not ideal, but should be fine.

  19. Glenda Barton

    Hi.. I have a client who wants a lemon poppy seed wedding cake. Can you please tell me how many cups of batter this recipe makes? Thank you

  20. Haylie

    Hi – if I wanted to use this recipe for a 4-layer 8” cake, how could I increase the recipe to do that? Any suggestions?

  21. Rachel Michelle Hillegeist

    Hello. I was wondering if you ever use almond extract or paste flavoring? I had a friend request an almond lemon poppy seed cake but can’t find a good recipe. Yours looks great but no almond so curious if you had a recommendation. Thank you!

    1. Lindsay

      I’ve never added almond to this cake, but you certainly could. How much would just depend on what flavor you’re looking for. I might try a teaspoon of almond extract and then see what you think before adding more. You probably don’t want the almond to over power the lemon.

  22. Jacline

    I just have a quick question before I make this, could I use two 9 inch cake pans rather than three 8 inch, and is it okay to make the cake layers the day before, wrap and store them in the fridge then assemble and do the icing the next day? Thank you in advance, I’m looking forward to testing this out!

      1. Liz

        Can the cake be frozen? And if not how long will it keep before/after icing please? (Trying to time making it for my daughter’s birthday around work 🙈)

      2. Lindsay

        I don’t typically freeze fully frosted cakes, but I know some people do. You could certainly try it. This one may turn out better than some cakes with fillings. Otherwise, it should be fine in the fridge for a couple of days. I typically make cakes the day before I serve them.

    1. Lindsay

      I think that depends what look you’re going for. I don’t use fondant often and it’s been along time since I have used it, but I always felt like chocolate ganache gave me sharper corners than buttercream.

  23. Susan Smith

    This cake was easy and turned out perfectly. It was the perfect texture and really delicious! I made an easy lemon mousse (lemon pudding mix and heavy whipping cream) for between the layers just to lighten it up a bit, and added an extra Tbsp of lemon juice to the frosting (there was plenty to frost the cake and freeze some for another time). All so so good!!

      1. Lindsay

        Does it *need* it? No, you could reduce it. But you’ll end up with less frosting and it won’t be as stiff. I like a stiffer (decorator’s style) frosting and particularly with cream cheese frosting, which gets too soft and hard to work with very easily. If you want to reduce the sugar (and therefore the amount of frosting), I’d recommend reducing the amount of everything else in equal proportions so that you still have the same consistency of frosting.

  24. Nicole

    LOVE the flavor of this cake, and the layers were so tender and moist. The only issue I ran into was that my layers didn’t rise almost at all. They didn’t necessarily turn out dense, but I’m wondering what I might have missed that contributed to the cake not rising well.

    1. Lindsay

      The layers should be roughly an inch tall. If they didn’t rise properly, it may have something to do with your baking soda. Otherwise it could be really hard to say. It would likely be something to do with how everything was mixed or something with an ingredient.

  25. Nisa

    Thank you for sharing such a great recipe. I tried this recipe with a Vitamix blender due to time constrain(ONLY to mix the oil, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon peel(not zest because vitamix will crush the zest into smaller pieces)). It works like magic.
    Next time when time permits, I will use the hand mixer. Thanks again.

      1. Yen

        Hi, can I add more lemon juice in batter? Do I need to decrease the amount of milk if I do that?

      2. Lindsay

        Lemon juice is an acid and milk is not. If you add too much lemon juice, the cake will likely fall. You could try adding a little bit more, but I wouldn’t overdo it.

    1. Lindsay

      I didn’t test it with cake flour so I can’t say, but I would stick with all purpose if you don’t have time to make it again if you don’t like the result.

  26. Chrissy

    I am excited to try this recipe! Lately I have been separating my eggs and whipping the whites and folding them in at the end. Would that work with this cake?

    1. Lindsay

      I don’t think it would hurt the cake, but it isn’t necessary and could make it too delicate. This cake is already very light and tender in my opinion.

  27. Cheryl Suthers

    I had sooo much frosting left over! I did this as a trial for my daughters wedding cake, can you freeze left over frosting?

      1. Lindsay

        What size would a taster cake be? 6 inches? I’d probably cut the recipe in half for a 6 inch cake.

    1. dori_backt

      Hi Lindsay,
      I just found this gorgeous recipe on your blog. I will try this for my sister’s birthday. Can I colour the cream cheese frosting with some oil based food colour in pink?

      1. Lindsay

        I typically use gel icing color, which would probably be best. But the oil-based ones might work too.

  28. Patty Wagoner

    I would love to make this as a wedding cake my question is how would you alter the recipe for 10 inch and 6 inch pans

    1. Lindsay

      It depends on what you need for a wedding cake I guess. I don’t make wedding cakes really. But I’d think it’d be fine. It’s very moist and tender.

    1. Lindsay

      I might try another recipe. Substituting all of those things is basically not the same recipe and I can’t guarantee good results.

  29. Spenser

    I’m planning to make the sponge ahead of time, letting cool then wrapping in plastic wrap at room temperature for 48 hours before assembly. Do you think that would work?

    1. Lindsay

      Yep, feel free to read more about my buttercream and the consistency I like to use it at in this post about frosting consistency. You’re welcome to reduce it, but particularly with cream cheese frosting, you need the powdered sugar to thicken it, in my opinion. You can reduce the overall amount of frosting though.

  30. Kitty G

    I’m making this very soon for a ladies luncheon. My question is I only have 2 cake pans.
    Will the recipe work if I just use the 2? They are deep cake pans. Thank you. Can’t wait to make this cake.

  31. Alisa Mason

    Love! Love! Love this recipe! Every time I’ve made it, I get amazing reviews. I was also asked if I can make this without the lemon flavoring substituting almond extract? Thank you for sharing your love and joy to the kitchen!

  32. Alpa

    Love butter and oil cakes. I’m interested in swapping clementines for the lemons. Would you suggest decreasing the sugar or keeping the proportions the same?

  33. Amethyst

    Hi!!! I love this recipe so so much! It’s my favorite lemon cake recipe.
    I have to ask; have you made this as cupcakes at any point? and if so did you find yourself adjusting the recipe?

      1. Tanya

        I can’t wait to try this!! I wanted to do 4 layers in a 6″ cake tin instead would I bake for the same time and do you recommend doubling up on measurements or keeping it the same?

      2. Lindsay

        I definitely wouldn’t double it. And keeping it the same will give you quite a large cake. I cut it in half for a 6 inch cake with 3 layers.

  34. Tiffany

    I have a question for you. By the way I love your recipes!!!!
    Every time I make a lemon cake it doesn’t rise or not very high. They end up about only an inch, what am I doing wrong😫

    1. Lindsay

      Are you referring to this cake or another? It’s hard for me to say about other recipes, and even sometimes about my own since I’m not there to see what happens. That said, my layers are typically an inch or so tall when I do 3 layers.

      1. Lucy

        I just made this cake, used new baking powder and soda, tried not to over mix but used a sugar substitute. My layers are only slightly over a half inch. Could it be caused by the sugar substitute. I use it in my other cake recipes and it’s fine.

      2. Lindsay

        It’s hard for me to say for sure, since I don’t work with sugar substitutes. But I’d imagine that it could be the reason. The butter and sugar in this cake are creamed, which adds air and rise to the cake. If the properties of the sugar substitute don’t really mirror real sugar, then you may not get the same results.

  35. Hannah

    I’ve never used poppyseeds before but am making this for my grandmas birthday. Do the poppy seeds need to be soaked or anything before use?

  36. Joanne Petten

    I was wondering what adjustments would I have to make if I used one 9-inch pan only. My daughter wants a single layer for her birthday cake and is not a lover of frosting. Do you have any glaze recipes? The cake sounds so delicious. I cant wait to try it :).

      1. Joanne

        Thank you so much for your response and the suggestions from the other recipes. Upon looking at them, I’m going to give those a try, too!

    1. Felicity

      Hi, does this sponge freeze well pre icing considering it’s a nice moist one? Doubling up for my daughters birthday and ideally will make one batch a week in advance as short on time!

  37. farah

    hey does anyone know if i can use chia seeds as a substitute for poppy seeds ? or maybe black sesame seeds ? thank you in advance

  38. Amanda

    I just finished baking this cake and making the frosting and can’t wait to try it. Silly question though….the cakes cool in the pan correct? And if its too late to let them cool tonight…can i put my frosting in the fridge and do it tomorrow after it warms up a little? Thank you for this awesome recipe!

    1. Lindsay

      No, typically the cakes would be turned out onto cooling racks to cool. If you cooled them in the pan, they should still be fine though. And yes, you can refrigerate the frosting overnight, let it come to room temperature the next day and then frost the cake. I hope you enjoy it!

    1. Nokuphila

      I really love this cake, I’ve made it several times. Would it be possible to make it with oranges instead?

  39. Jody Homola

    I love this cake!!! It’s the perfect amount of sweet without being too much! I’ve made it twice in the month of April hah!

  40. Micha

    I made this for my husband’s office and got a text saying “this cake is phenomenal!” Thanks for boosting my reputation as a baker 🙂 It was easy to put together and worked beautifully.

  41. Chava

    I just made this recipe and loved it! I doubled the recipe to make two bundt cakes. They were light, fluffy, moist, almost like a sponge cake without all the work. It was easy to make and yummy! I did it dairy free using margarine instead of butter and it was great. Would definitely definitely make again!

  42. Allison

    Hi – can’t wait to try this… would this recipe work in an angel food cake pan? I’m doing it for a birthday and want to decorate with tulips in the middle!

    1. Lindsay

      I honestly have not tried it, so I’m not sure. I would expect it to be more dense in that type of pain though.

  43. Mel

    Hi, I want to make your Lemin Poppyseed Cake, can you please tell me how to find your tutorial on how you make the rosettes on the top with the icing? They are soo pretty! Otherwise, how else could I finish it off on top, maybe just iced flat and sprinkle some poppyseeds and lemon rind?

  44. Barbara Sweet

    Hi, the frosting was DIVINE, but have to share the comments of other reviewers regarding the lack of rise in the cake (and per your response, I was quite meticulous measuring the ingredients, particularly the leavening. What brand of baking powder do you use, and what type of lemons? My thinking is that the recipe is probably very sensitive to the ratio of acid to base. I’m definitely up for another try but would like some idea of how to tweak it.

    1. Lindsay

      I use Argo baking powder and just regular lemons. No doubt that the acidity in lemon recipes can be sensitive, so it’s possible that’s having an affect.

      1. Lindsay

        It’s hard to say from a distance. Are you sure you measured the baking soda/powder correctly? Those can be easily swapped around by mistake.

  45. Angelica

    Amazing!! Such a great delicious recipe! I’m a cake maker and always on the hunt for a good cake recipe and this is so good. Moist and flavoursome. I baked mine in 3 6 inch tins.

    1. Lindsay

      Yes. It adds volume and consistency. Cream cheese frosting especially doesn’t hold shape well without enough powdered sugar. That said, plenty of people reduce it and it works for them. If that’s your preference, feel free to reduce it.

  46. Veronique

    Just made this cake but didn’t make the frosting, maybe i’ll make a lemon icing. i bake it a Bundt cake pan, so i let it bake longer than mentioned in the recipe. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks amazing… i wish i could upload a picture 🙁

  47. Reena Mandora

    Yep I deffo creamed for around 5 mins 🙂

    My skewer came out clean when I checked the cakes. So odd right? 🙁

    1. Lindsay

      So one thing we’ve been realizing lately is that some issue might be coming from over-creaming. Five minutes may actually be a little too long. Try to aim for closer to 3 and look for fluffiness in the creamed mixture. If it starts to get slightly curdled looking, you may have over-creamed it.

  48. Reena Mandora

    Hi Lindsey!

    I followed the recipe to a “T”. When I took the cakes out the oven, they were beuitifully risen etc. When i left them to cool, I came back to them 5 minutes later and they had shrivelled into themsevles and sunk 🙁 I can’t for the life of me figure why 🙁

    1. Melissa @ Life, Love and Sugar

      I’m sorry that happened. Could they have been a little under baked? Are you sure you fully creamed the butter and sugar together?

  49. Ambrealys

    This looks so yummy! I am wondering if you have advice for a fondant covered version… or rather, will this cream work well with fondant ?

    1. Lindsay

      I don’t have a lot of experience covering cakes with fondant, but I don’t think cream cheese frosting would work very well because it’s so soft.

  50. Donna

    I’m interested in trying this recipe but have a question. Can this be baked in a bundt pan instead of layered and if yes how would that affect the baking time and temperature?

  51. Sian Yefet

    I made this cake yesterday for my mum’s birthday today. It was absolutely delicious and everyone that tried it raved about it. I only used half the quantity of buttercream, I’ve frozen the rest and I’ll make the cake again and use it up next time.

  52. Claire Scullin

    Just tried it again, exactly the same, double weighed ingredients. Much less mixing, and they didn’t rise at all. Thrown four sponges in the bin today 😪

  53. Claire Scullin

    While it tasted lovely it didn’t rise at all…was cooked round the edges but almost raw in the middle and thin as a biscuit. Followed the ingredients and recipe to the letter 🙁

    1. Lindsay

      Something was clearly off if it didn’t rise properly. Are you sure your baking soda and baking powder are good and that you used the right amount of each? I ask because my sister in law was baking with me last week and thought she followed everything perfectly, but accidentally used baking powder instead of soda and the cakes didn’t rise properly and looked totally different than normal. It can happen easily. The other possibility is not fully creaming the butter, oil and sugar together or over mixing the batter at the end.

      1. Claire Scullin

        Yep I make cakes regularly (including a perfect coffee cake last weekend) so ingredients are all good, I used exact amount of baking powder and bicarbonate specified. Fully creamed the butter, oil and sugar, that all looked fine. It did look very wet and sloppy before putting in the tins so I may try adding more flower and less mixing. Very disappointed though 🙁

    2. Sanelisiwe

      Hi Clare I’m not a prof baker I’m a self taught baker n rely a lot on YouTube n google , I saw on one of your comments whre u said u used bicarbonate of soda, From my google findings apparently baking soda n bicarb are diff, wen u don’t hv baking soda u use 3 parts of baking powder I don’t , so mayb instead of using a 1/4 spoon of soda use 3×1/4 spoons of baking powder on top of th baking powder this recip is asking fr and your cake wil rise nicely , t always work fr me, Coz in my country we don’t gt baking soda, I hope this helps u

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say for sure. But if it’s a 1 to 1 cup version of gluten free flour, I’d think it’d be ok.

  54. Zanele

    I would like to know if the measurement for the all purpose flour is 2 cups plus half a cup. I actually don’t want to make a mistake.

    Looking forward to your response

  55. Su

    Hiya, 

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I’m planning to try it out today for my mom’s birthday tomorrow. I’m just wondering whether you used caster or granulated sugar? Also, would the recipe still turn out okay if I halved it, as I’m only planing on making little finger cakes. 

    Your response would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

  56. Marcia

    Hi dear, thanks for your lovely recipes. Its the second time im trying this and it rises so well in the oven but deflates as soon as i take it out the oven. Could it be because im creaming the sugar and  butter way too much at the beginning of the recipe? I mix for about 7-10 minutes. Or its something else different 

  57. Megan

    Very yummy. And the zest plus lemon juice makes it refreshing in a sense. Things I would do different next time are dye some frosting yellow to decorate with, and make half the amount of frosting called for because unless you’re putting roses over the whole thing you’ll have an entire Tupperware leftover like me 🙂

    1. Poonam Prajapati

      Hi Lindsay. Three questions. 1. Can you used a lemon curd as the filling? 2. Can you do a SMBC (vanilla or lemon flavoured? 3. Baking these with cake strips, will it still rise and how do you adjust the baking time?

      1. Lindsay

        Lemon curd would be fine for a filling. SMBC should be fine as well. I haven’t used cake strips on it, but I can’t imagine it’d be an issue.

  58. Lily Hancock

    This cake was delicious! The sponge was so fluffy and moist and the cream cheese frosting really gave the cake such a nice tang. Everyone loved it. Will definitely make again! 

  59. Nora

    I’ve mase this cake half a dosen times by now, it’s that good! So I figured I finally needed to leave a review. Everyone I’ve served this to has been all over it, and it has become a staple for me. I looove lemon cake, and this is a really nice fancier version of it.
    The only changes I’ve adapted are that I use only baking soda, not baking powder (I ran out of BP once and liked the cake even better with double the BS instead), and WAY less sugar in the frosting – probably half of the recipe amount at max. I’m not from the US so I’ve learned that most US recipes can easily do with a lot less sugar for us. 
    I also always make a bitter lemon peel topping for this. Once the lemons are zested and squeezed, I cut the “shell” into as thin as possible strips, and carefully boil them with sugar and any leftover juice. This turns into a sweet and slightly bitter topping that (IMO) really compliments the cake. 

    1. Nora

      Here I am still making this cake regularly, haha!
      This original comment still rings true, I figured I’d add another note regarding the powdered sugar in the frosting since there are a lot of comments asking about it. I leave out the lemon juice in the frosting, because that’s what causes the need for such large amount of sugar to begin with – just to “dry out” the frosting again. While using much less sugar likely affects the final amount of frosting slightly, it’s definitely still enough to cover and decorate the cake nicely.
      The recipe also works for a 2 or 3 layer cake in a 20cm pan without adjustments.

  60. Ryan

    Hi Lindsay!

    This cake looks amazing but I think a three layer cake is too much for us. Is it possible to divide the whole recipe by 1/3 so I can just bake a two layer cake? I know baking needs to be precise so I wanted to check. I’m looking forward to baking this Cake for my wife’s birthday this weekend! 

    1. Lindsay

      It’s so hard to say because some ingredients just won’t divide evenly by 3. Without trying it, I’m not sure if it’ll work well to have to adjust some ingredients or not. You might be best to make all three layers and freeze one for later.

  61. Adelina Skera

    Hi Lindsay,
    I did this recipe last night and it was the first time for me making a homemade cake (now i appreciate a lot more the cakes i see on the stores)!
    I think i did a lot of mistakes but at the end it taste delicious.
    A question for you: did you put the icing in the fridge before decorating the cake?
    My cake looked like it was about to melt, and i had cold sponges. I waited for them to get cold.

    I promise i will try this again because I love lemon and poppy seeds. 🙂

    All the best,
    Adelina

  62. Roseanne

    hey i tried making this cake and after combining the mixture it came out watery is that how it’s supposed to be? x

  63. Rose

    Hi Lindsay,

    Thanks for the recipe Im about to try this. Could I use the same frosting to pipe sunflower petals and leaves on the cake?

    Thank you!  

    1. Lindsay

      You could give it a try. Cream cheese frosting does tend to be on the softer side. While you can do some piping with it, it doesn’t always hold too elaborate of a shape well. If you’re really want it to hold up, a buttercream would really be better.

  64. Sander

    Excellent recipe! For my taste buds and those of my family, I made half the amount of frosting that the recipe called for, and for that I used 1/3 the amount of powdered sugar (3 cups instead of 10). It was still too sweet so next time I will try just one cup of powdered sugar. I also doubled the lemon zest for both the cake and the frosting, and doubled the amount of poppy seeds, all with excellent results. The lemon flavor was perfectly featured without being over the top. I will definitely make this recipe again, with the modifications I mentioned.

  65. Monica

    I’m planning on making this for Mother’s Day and I was wondering if I could use cake flour instead of All purpose flour.

  66. Thuy

    Hi Lindsay,

    Just wanted to know if you have ever made an orange and poppy seed cake before? If so, could I adapt this recipe and change the lemon parts to orange? 

    Thank you. 

  67. Chelsea

    Hi Lindsay,

    Thank you for this amazing recipe! One question:
    Can I substitute half of the all-purpose flour for cake flour?

  68. Brenda Milcetic

    Hi Lindsay,
    This cake, like all your others, looks amazing! Can I bake it in two, 9″ pans?
    Thank you and God bless,
    Brenda

    1. Lindsay

      You can, you just might need to adjust the baking time a little bit. And keep in mind that your cake won’t be quite as tall.

  69. Millie

    Went down really well with my family- they said it was the best cake I ever made! Thanks for the recipe x

  70. Katelyn

    This is the best thing that I’ve ever baked! (I am a little biased because I love lemon 🙂 ). I made adjustments for altitude because I live in Denver: I reduced baking powder for each tsp by 1/8, reduced sugar by 2 tablespoons, and increased the oil by two tablespoons. I also cooked it at 375 for 18 minutes and it was perfect! Thank you so much!

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t tried it to be able to say. If you use all oil, it would be harder to cream things together and get that same light and fluffy texture that helps add air to the batter. Plus, some cakes I just think taste better with some butter in there rather than all oil.

  71. anu

    Hi Lindsay
    I plan to bake this cake( a wonderful looking one i must add) for my daughter’s first birthday. However i do have a question for u. Is the poppy seeds roasted before putting in cake batter? I am from India and havent seen black colored poppy seeds. Hence the question

    1. Lindsay

      I didn’t toast the poppyseeds. That is how they come here in the US. I’m not really sure what to suggest, but you could try toasting them.

      1. Anu

        Hello again, 
        Back with an update, A positive one ☺️
        For testing purpose, i tried a vegan version with the white poppy seeds we get here. The appearance was definitely not as appealing, but the texture was wow. The poppy seeds did add a nice crunch to the cake, so it is this cake for my baby’s birthday 😍. Thank you in advance will keep you posted. 
        Hipe this helps others who dont get black poppy seeds where they live🤗

  72. Laura Slauenwhite

    I made this cake for a dinner party recently and I’m still dreaming about it. This cake was a huge hit, everyone raved about it! I did find that the recipe yielded almost double the needed icing though, which did not go to waste. I will definitely be making this again. 

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I do tend to use a lot of frosting so you can definitely cut that down if you like.

      1. Dani

        After you remove the cakes from the oven, does “remove to cooling racks” mean to turn the cakes out of their pans and let them cool directly on the racks? 

  73. Hiba

    I made it and it turned out AMAZING. I loved the balanced zesty flavour which was just right. The poppy seeds added  extra taste and desirable crunch to this lovely cake. Well done and thanx for sharing the recipe. 🥰

  74. Nicole

    I made this cake Saturday for my Dad’s birthday. He took one bite and spoke not one word the whole time eating his cake except for mmm. I only got to taste a pinch of his piece and I wanted to take the cake back. It was divine; lemony, moist, tender, delicious. I’m thinking about it right now. I will be making this cake again. Thank you Lindsay.

  75. Christy

    Hi, Thanks for the recipe! I was wondering if you turn any of the layers upside down or are they all placed on top of each other right side up? I also wondered what you would think of replacing mascarpone for the cream cheese? Thanks you so much!

    1. Lindsay

      I typically have the lower layers right side up and the top layer upside down. And yes, mascarpone cheese should be fine.

  76. Donna

    THANK YOU for this terrific recipe!! I love the strength of the lemon flavor throughout.  I made your lemon curd and put a thin layer of it on top of the second layer, then frosting on that too.  I also put a little almond extract in the cake and a dash of vanilla and almond extract in the frosting.  It was a big hit for my mother-in-law’s birthday cake!  I will be trying your lemon raspberry cake soon!

  77. Kris

    I am a novice (at best) baker. I made this cake for my mom’s birthday this weekend, giving myself plenty of time. The cake was absolutely to die for!! I don’t even usually like anything lemon poppyseed but it is very subtle in both the cake and icing. I loved how easy it was to follow and with easy ingredients. I will say that I didn’t like the thinness of the cake baked in my 9″ cake pans. I’ll do 8″ next time as recommended.  Since I wasn’t sure I’d ever ramp up my cake decorating skills, I didn’t run out  to buy any of the tools she talks about in the icing post. I see how they would make my cake go from ok to spectacular! I’m thinking hard about it. Thank you Lindsay so much for taking the time to teach us newbies to bake!

  78. amal

    oh my god i baked this cake, it was so yummy i surprised all my guests!! 

    thank u for a great recipe 😍😍

    1. Lindsay

      Sure. I typically cut it into slices and freeze them individually. I wrap them in clear wrap and foil and then put them in a Ziploc bag. When you’re ready, thaw it in the fridge.

  79. Merlyn

    I have always loved lemon and poppy seed cakes, well anything lemony. Have been looking for a good recipe and when I found this recipe, I had to try it! Boy was I glad I tried it. The best recipe ever. The cake was super moist and yet fluffy and light. My husband and I gobbled most of it. Thank you for sharing the recipe. 

  80. Katy

    Thank you for your recipe! I am baking this cake for my friend’s birthday party tomorrow. I wanted to bake the cake today since the party is in the morning, and I was wondering how I should store it. Should I put the cake in the fridge or keep it at room temperature overnight? Should I ice it now, or should I wait until tomorrow morning to do that? Thanks for your help!

    1. Lindsay

      You can frost it the day of or the day before. If you frost it the day before, I would store it in the fridge because of the cream cheese frosting. If the cake layers aren’t frosted yet, you can store them in airtight container at room temperature.

  81. Amza

    I baked your cake yesterday since I love lemon cake. I was so glad I went with your recipe. I made a few tweaks I added whole milk instead of regular and I also topped it off  with a cream cheese frosting that had lemon curd in it. It was amazing all my fam and friends loved it. Thanks again! Also, I baked it in 3 eight inch pans and it was done at the 20 min mark 🙂 thanks again! 

  82. Rebekah

    I was worried I wouldn’t find the perfect recipe when a customer asked if I could make a lemon poppyseed cake. My worries were gone once I found this! Made this into 3-6” pans and 2-4”’pans. It was absolutely delicious. They stacked perfectly and the taste was just so amazing. The lemon is spot on and everyone was happy. I think I may swap out the poppyseeds for blueberries next time to see how that pairs! The lemon cake is just so good I want to make it with everything. 
    Thanks for sharing such a gem with us. And for those asking about baking in different pan sizes, this will be just fine…just watch the baking times. 

  83. Kayla

    I made this over the weekend… it’s a seriously awesome cake!! I made it into a 4″ cake and cupcakes it was just fine xx

    1. Ani

      Hi…i tried the cake recipe few days back…made the cake without the poppy seed and spread with your lemon curd recipe…for cream cheese frosting, the ratio of cream cheese n powdered sugar 1 : 2.5…it is supposed to be very sweet? since i have leftover frosting, can i add more cream cheese to adjust the sweetness?

      1. Lindsay

        I think sweetness is very subjective. What one person thinks it’s too sweet another person thinks it’s just right. You can certainly adjust to your liking. Just keep in mind with cream cheese frosting that if you reduce the powdered sugar too much, it will be very thin. That may be OK depending on what you are frosting with it.

      2. Frey

        So I’m in the middle of baking the cake now and it’s the first thing I’ve baked since high school which is a good 6/7 years ago and there’s sooooo much of it. I’ve got Siri to help me out with measurements but I’m just hoping it all comes out well 🙂 house smells amazing though 🙂 

  84. Pam

    Cake was great!!  Lemon juice should be fresh, might help the flat cake issue?  Chia seeds could not replace as they expand with moisture so who knows what your cake would be like. Wouldn’t chance it as not the same texture or taste either. Hope that helps. This is an awesome cake!!  Thank you for sharing!!

  85. Gail

    Every time I use lemon juice in my bread or cake it goes flat. I really want to make this beautiful cake, but I would hate for it to go flat. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Lindsay

      It’s hard to say what might have gone wrong with other recipes. Lemon is definitely tricky because of the acid in it, but I tested this one about 7 times and it rose well so hopefully you won’t have a problem.

      1. Lindsay

        One of the most common things that happens to people is that they mix up their baking soda and baking powder. I would check that you used the correct amount of each one.

  86. Jen Fernandez

    So, okay, crazy thing is you cannot buy poppyseeds in Brazil. The opium thing and all. I think they saw that Seinfeld poppyseed episode one too many times. Anyway, can I replace with maybe chia seeds? Or would you hat be disgusting?

    1. Lindsay

      Hmmm, I’ve not ever actually had chia seeds, so I’m not really sure. You can definitely leave them out though and the cake would bake just fine.

      1. Alisa

        Hi for the 2 tablespoons of lemon zest how many medium size lemons is that ?

  87. Lin

    Following up on Sara’s question about making this and your other cakes in a 9×13 pan, I realize that you have done all of your testing with layer cakes and they certainly do provide for a nicer decorating style. But would you consider adding more recipes specifically for that size pan? Not all of us have the time (or skill) to lavishly decorate, not to mention transporting and the ease of serving. Your recipes are divine and deserve to be shared with others at less formal events!

    1. Lindsay

      Thanks for the suggestion Lin! I’ve definitely wanted to do more 9×13 cakes. It’s just been quite a challenge to find a good vanilla cake that doesn’t end up fairly dense. I’m definitely on board with more of that style cake, I just want the recipes to be just as good. Hopefully I’ll find just the right cake soon!

      1. Shani

        I have made this cake 3 times now, it’s a family favorite! I want to make it for a coworker who has Celiac’s disease. Have you ever made it gluten-free? I’m going to try it either way, I was just curious if you have done it.

    1. Maebh

      Hi! This cake looks lovely, but surely there’s a typo in the sugar for the frosting? You can’t really mean 10 cups of sugar, can you?

  88. Sara

    Lindsay,
    As with most recipes you post, i can’t wait to make this. It’s at the top of my list though, and I plan to make it this weekend. With this, and all of your three-layer cake recipes actually, can it be made as is in a 9×13? Or, do the ingredient ratios have to be adjusted at all? I understand the bake time will be different…
    Thank you,
    Sara

    1. Lindsay

      Thanks Sara! For a 9×13 cake, they will bake fine but they usually end up a good bit more dense than the layered versions. There are a few exceptions, but that’s the case for most. I haven’t tried it with this one, but I imagine it would end up quite dense too.

      1. Lindsay

        Yes, I just haven’t made that size to be able to say how to adjust it. I’m guessing you’d want to double the recipe.

  89. Ava M Vivion

    This sounds like the perfect cake to make myself for my birthday this month!! Lemon and poppy seeds go together like bread and butter 💜 Thank you for your fabulous recipes and precise instructions!

    1. Alexia

      Made this cake for my husband’s 40th birthday yesterday and it was a hit with everyone. Will definitely be making it again, and will recommend it to anyone who loves a lemon poppyseed cake.

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29