Lemon Poppy Seed Cake is a light and fluffy cake flavored with lemon juice, lemon zest, and poppy seeds and topped with a whipped cream cheese frosting.

looking down on a lemon poppy seed cake sprinkled with poppy seeds and lemon zest

I think the lemon and poppy seed flavor combination is elite. I don’t know if the poppy seeds really add much of a flavor, but they are so pretty that I will let them slide. This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake is pretty much my dream cake. Everything about it, the actual cake and the whipped frosting, is so fluffy and inviting. I could eat the cake plain and the frosting with a spoon and be perfectly happy.

a close up of a slice of lemon cake with whipped cream cheese frosting

Ingredients for Lemon Poppy Seed Cake:

Ingredients for Fluffy Lemon Cake:

  • Granulated Sugar. This will add flavor and sweetness to the cake.
  • Lemon Zest. This will flavor the cake.
  • Eggs. It will be easier to incorporate the eggs into the batter if they are at room temperature.
  • Vanilla. Vanilla is a must in baked goods just like salt. Real vanilla adds a better flavor than imitation vanilla.
  • Buttermilk. This will help make the cake fluffy and moist.
  • Lemon Juice. This will add flavor to the cake.
  • Poppy Seeds. This will add flavor and texture to the cake.
  • Unsalted Butter. I always make sure to use unsalted butter when baking because there is no “standard” for the amount of salt they can add to butter. So if you add salt to a recipe and then use salted butter you could end up with a very salty end product.
  • All-Purpose Flour. Measuring the flour correctly is very important. I suggest weighing your flour out (I use this scale). If you want to use a measuring cup, make sure you spoon the flour into the cup and level it off with a knife. Don’t use the cup to scoop directly from the flour.
  • Baking Soda. This will help the cake to rise.
  • Baking Powder. This will also help the cake to rise.
  • Salt. Salt is a must in baked goods. It will help to balance out the sweetness and improve the overall flavor.

Ingredients for Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • Cream Cheese. This will be the base of the frosting.
  • Granulated Sugar. See above note.
  • Vanilla. See above note.
  • Salt. See above note.
  • Heavy Cream. This will be folded into the cream cheese to make it extra light and fluffy.
all of the ingredients needed for this recipe

How To Make Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Fluffy Lemon Cake

STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Spray a 9-inch square cake pan with non-stick spray and lay 2 strips of parchment paper in a cross shape across the bottom. Set aside.

STEP 2: In a large bowl combine the granulated sugar and the lemon zest. Whisk well to help release the oils in the zest.

STEP 3: Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, lemon juice, and melted butter until combined.

the wet ingredients and sugar combined in a bowl

STEP 4: In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds. Whisk to remove any lumps.

the dry ingredients combined in a bowl

STEP 5: Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.

the batter in a bowl

STEP 6: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

STEP 1: In a medium bowl combine the room temperature cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix until fully combined.

STEP 2: In a separate medium bowl whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Be sure not to overwhip.

STEP 3: Add about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the cream cheese and mix until completely combined. Add the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold it into the cream cheese mixture.

the whipped cream cheese frosting in a bowl

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake Assembly

STEP 1: Spread the whipped cream cheese frosting over the cooled lemon poppy seed cake.

a plate of sliced lemon poppy seed cake

Tips For Making The Best Cake:

  • Use an oven thermometer. Most ovens run either hot or cold. Using an oven thermometer ensures that you are baking your cake at the perfect temperature.
  • Don’t use cold ingredients. Ensure that all of your cold ingredients are at room temperature before making your cake batter. The ingredients will combine much easier and you won’t have chunks of cold butter in your batter.
  • Weigh your ingredients. One of the most common baking mistakes that I see is measuring incorrectly, especially with flour. The best way to get accurate measurements every time is to weigh them with a kitchen scale.
  • Don’t overmix. You need to mix your batter until all of the ingredients are JUST combined, otherwise, you will make too much gluten and your cake will be tough instead of fluffy.
a close up of lemon poppy seed cake

Your Questions Answered

HOW LONG WILL THIS CAKE LAST?

If stored correctly in an airtight container this Lemon Poppy Seed Cake will last up to 3 days in the fridge.

DO I HAVE TO USE LEMON ZEST?

I know lemon zest isn’t the most convenient ingredient to use (I also scratch myself with the zester) but it really does add to the overall flavor. You can leave it out but expect a lesser lemon flavor overall.

a close up of a slice of lemon poppy seed cake

More Cake Recipes From Kitchen 335:

  • Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes– a moist pumpkin cupcake base flavored with pumpkin puree and homemade pumpkin spice and a whipped cream cheese frosting.
  • S’mores Sheet Cake– a moist chocolate sheet cake slathered with toasted marshmallow icing and topped with buttered graham cracker crumbles.
  • Maple Coffee Cake– a fluffy and moist coffee cake swirled with a cinnamon streusel and topped with a sweet maple glaze. 
  • Molten Lava Cake– soft chocolate cakes with a warm chocolate center.
looking down on a place of cake slices

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click a link and buy something.

Like this post? Visit my Recipe page to see more like it!

Print It Pin It
5 from 4 votes

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake is a light and fluffy cake flavored with lemon juice, lemon zest, and poppy seeds and topped with a whipped cream cheese frosting.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake, cream cheese, cream cheese icing, Lemon, lemon poppy seed, lemon poppy seed cake, Poppy Seed
Servings: 16 slices
Calories: 236kcal

Ingredients

For Cake:

  • 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 1 3/4 cup (210 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For Icing:

  • 1/2 block (113 grams) cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) heavy cream

Instructions

For Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Spray a 9-inch square cake pan with non-stick spray and lay 2 strips of parchment paper in a cross shape across the bottom. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine the granulated sugar and the lemon zest. Whisk well to help release the oils in the zest.
  • Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, lemon juice, and melted butter until combined.
  • In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, poppy seeds, and salt.
  • Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For Icing:

  • In a medium bowl combine the room temperature cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix until fully combined.
  • In a separate medium bowl whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Be sure not to over whip.
  • Add about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the cream cheese and mix until completely combined. Add the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold into the cream cheese mixture.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 30.4g | Protein: 3.7g | Fat: 11.7g | Saturated Fat: 6.9g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 179mg | Potassium: 108mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 19.4g | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @kitchen335co_ on Instagram!