Lemon Poppyseed Cake

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!

collage of images. a slice of cake and the whole cake

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.

slice of cake with a bite taken outan image of the whole cake from the side

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!

slice of lemon poppyseed cakean overhead of the lemon poppyseed cake

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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slice of lemon poppyseed cake
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: 263.1 mg
  • Fat: 26.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 114.8 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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Recipe rating

254 Comments
  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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 yolk 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