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Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting [+Video]


This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting – it’s the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!

a photo of a piece of lemon poppy seed cake topped with a white cream cheese frosting and small lemon slice

From Poppy Seed Muffins to Cake!

It’s a soft, buttery, perfectly moist lemon cake that’s dotted with poppy seeds and topped with cream cheese frosting. It’s one of my favorite cakes, and it’s the perfect dessert if you love lemon poppy seed muffins.

The inspiration for this cake came after a friend gifted us with a poppy seed roll. It was a yeast bread with a swirl of poppy seed filling, and absolutely delicious. As I was having a slice with a thick slather of butter, it got me thinking about poppy seed recipes and I realized I hadn’t made any in a very long time.

So – this lemon poppy seed cake was born.

We have an entire video of exactly how to make it, so check it out…

What Do You Need to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Cake?

The ingredients for this cake recipe are simple and pantry friendly. Here are the items you will need:

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • Wet Ingredients: Granulated Sugar, Lemon Zest, Unsalted Butter, Eggs, Vanilla Extract, Sour Cream, Buttermilk and Lemon Juice
  • Dry Ingredients: All Purpose Flour, Cornstarch, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Poppy Seeds

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream Cheese
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Lemon Juice

The measurements of each ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post. Keep scrolling for all the details.

a photo of a bite of lemon poppy seed cake sitting on a fork laying on a plate next to a slice of the cake

How to Make Poppy Seed Lemon Cake

Poppy Seed Lemon Cake

  1. Prep: Preheat oven and grease a 9×13 baking pan.
  2. Activate: Place the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and rub with your fingers to activate the oils in the lemon zest.
  3. Beat: Add the butter and sugar (with lemon zest) to the large bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat together until fluffy scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. Mix: Add in the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. Sift: Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and sift (or whisk) to combine.
  6. Combine: Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until almost combined.
  7. Add: Add the remaining wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  8. Fold: Sprinkle the poppy seeds over the batter and fold them into the batter using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  9. Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake as directed or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  10. Cool: Let the cake cool completely before frosting it.

Cream Cheese Frosting

After the cake is done baking and cooled, it’s time to make the cream cheese frosting. Simple, creamy, a little tangy, and the perfect pairing for this lemon cake.

  1. Beat: Add the butter and cream cheese to a bowl and beat until combined.
  2. Add: Slowly mix in the powdered sugar and finally the vanilla (optional) and lemon juice.
  3. Frost: Gently spread the frosting over the cooled cake and then cut and serve.

Keep scrolling to the end of the post to the recipe card for the complete instructions. The recipe can be saved or printed from there as well.

a photo of a slice of lemon poppy seed cake sitting on small white dessert plate topped with a smooth cream cheese frosting and a thin slice of lemon

Tips for Making the Best Poppy Seed Lemon Cake

  • Be sure to use real butter and no butter substitutes. It adds more flavor.
  • You might think that since this is a cake, you should use cake flour in place of the all purpose flour but I wouldn’t recommend it. For this recipe, all purpose flour works better.
  • To keep the cake nice and moist, we use sour cream because it makes the cake crumb oh so soft and perfectly moist. Just make sure it’s room temperature for easy mixing.
  • For the best lemon flavor, we use a combination of freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest. Make sure that you don’t use lemon juice from the bottle or lemon extract, otherwise the flavor will be too sour.
  • Be careful not to over mix your cake batter or else your homemade lemon cake can end up dense. Having all the ingredients at room temperature before getting started helps with this.
  • Likewise, using room temperature cream cheese and butter will ensure a smooth and creamy texture in the frosting. We don’t want a lumpy frosting!
  • Place the baked cake in the fridge or freezer so that it is more firm for easier frosting.

How to Know If Poppy Seeds are Still Good?

The best way to tell if your poppy seeds have gone bad is by smell and appearance. They will smell sour and rancid. Poppy seeds should also not clump together at all. If they are sticking together, then they are probably moist which means they are no longer good.

a photo of a slice of lemon poppy seed cake topped with cream cheese frosting and small wedge of lemon.

Does a Glass Dish Require More Cooking Time Than Metal?

A reader recently asked if her cake pan that is a glass dish requires more cooking time than a metal dish does and as it’s such a good question I wanted to mention it here.

Glass heats up slower but holds on to heat longer, so you may require a little more baking time. To help us not over bake this cake we like to open the oven at the end and let the glass dish cake rest for up to 4 minutes more before removing it from the oven to cool.

Can This Cake Be Made in a Bundt Pan?

Yes, this makes a beautiful bundt cake! The batter will fit in a standard 10 or 12 cup bundt pan. Be sure to grease the bundt cake extremely well. You’ll need to increase the baking time. Set the time for 60 minutes but start checking it at 45 minutes.

I like to keep the cream cheese frosting recipe the same but just thin it out a little with milk or heavy cream so that I can drizzle it over the top of the bundt cake.

Can You Freeze Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting?

You can freeze Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. In fact, cream cheese frosting is ideal for freezing. It is sturdy, with plenty of fat, and it will do better in the freezer than a more delicate meringue-based icing. Just wrap the cake well and freeze. Thaw before serving.

OR You can freeze the cake before it is frosted. Wrap your cooled cake in plastic wrap. Then wrap in tin foil or place in a plastic freezer bag and remove the air. Thaw the cake completely and then frost.  

a photo of a bite of lemon poppy seed cake on a fork and sitting next to a slice of cake

I brought this lemon poppy seed cake with cream cheese frosting over to a family dinner, and there wasn’t even a tiny sliver left over. It’s buttery, moist, filled with fresh lemon flavor, and the cream cheese frosting is everything that you’d want it to be. Seriously – if you love lemon desserts, you need to try this cake!

More CAKE RECIPES You Have to Try:

Servings: 18

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Description

This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting – it’s the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!

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For the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.

  • Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.

  • Place the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and mix with your fingers to completely saturate the sugar in the oils of the lemon zest.

    2 Cups Granulated Sugar, 3 Tablespoons Lemon Zest

  • In a large bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another minute.

    1 Cup Butter

  • Add in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla.

    4 Eggs, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

  • In a large bowl sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

    2 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour, 1/3 Cup Cornstarch, 2 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder, 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda, 1/2 teaspoon Salt

  • Using the electric mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix to just combine. Add in the buttermilk, sour cream, and lemon juice mix until all of the ingredients are combined.

    1/2 Cup Buttermilk, 1/2 Cup Sour Cream, 1/2 Cup Lemon Juice

  • Fold in the poppy seeds using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

    2-4 Tablespoons Poppy Seeds

  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean

  • Set aside to cool completely.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Once the cake is cooled, make the frosting.

  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese until evenly combined.

    1/4 Cup Butter, 8 oz Cream Cheese

  • Then slowly beat in the powdered sugar followed by the vanilla & lemon juice.

    3 Cups Powdered Sugar, 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice, 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

  • Frost the cooled cake using a flat edge knife & serve

*Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days or on the counter.
Cake can be frozen with the frosting for up to 3 months.

Serving: 1gCalories: 439kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 5gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 261mgPotassium: 146mgFiber: 1gSugar: 43gVitamin A: 668IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 79mgIron: 1mg

Author: Sweet Basil

Course: America’s Best 4th of July Desserts, Recipes and Sides, Easy Cake Recipes For Beginners

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This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!
This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!
This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!
This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!
This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!

Written by bourbiza mohamed

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