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!

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 1x
  • 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!


Scale

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.


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

151 Comments
  1. 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.

  2. 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 ?

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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 mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

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“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12