A delicious Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is a baking classic and a fabulous way to end a perfect meal.
I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to post a lemon flavoured dessert on my blog. I love them so much. But truthfully, I haven’t made one that I was excited enough about to put on my blog. There was always something that just wasn’t perfect. But finally, I nailed it and I made one that I’m really really happy with. This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting hits all the musts for me, its moist, tender, perfectly lemony, sweet but not overly so.
After how delicious this cake is, the best part is that it’s a simple and straightforward cake to bake. The cake portion is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe for this cake. She layers her cake with lemon curd so the cake portion itself didn’t contain enough lemon flavour. So I added some lemon juice and more zest to the cake batter to give the cake an extra pop of lemony flavour. I also added poppy seeds to the cake because I feel like it adds a little texture, you could omit them if you don’t have any around, but I definitely recommend adding them. The ingredients for this lemon cake are basic, it even uses all-purpose flour to make it, so there is no need to go out and buy cake flour. The recipe calls for buttermilk, but I used milk which I soured with lemon juice (but you can also use vinegar, see my recipe notes for making your own buttermilk substitute). I also substituted some of the buttermilk with sour cream because I wanted to make sure that the cake would have a tender and moist crumb. Finally, I decided to pair the cake with a delicious lemony cream cheese frosting. It’s all so scrumptious together!
If you need a good reason to make this cake, Mother’s Day is coming up so if your mama loves lemon desserts make this cake for her. I mean doesn’t a Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting seem like the perfect dessert to serve at a Mother’s Day brunch? Personally, I would make this cake every occasion I could if it wasn’t for the fact that my kids reject desserts that don’t contain any chocolate. As much as I love chocolate, lemony desserts get my vote every single time!
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
A delicious Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is a baking classic and a fabulous way to end the perfect meal.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
- 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. poppy seeds
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 cup unsalted butter (more for cake pans) softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup buttermilk See notes on how to make your own
- 1/2 cup sour cream full-fat
- 5 tbsp. lemon juice from 2 medium sized lemons
- 1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp. lemon zest from 3 medium sized lemons
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 8 oz. package full-fat cream cheese softened
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
- 1-2 tbsp. heavy cream, half and half or milk
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake:
Place an oven rack in the middle of your oven and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans; line with parchment rounds, and butter parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out excess.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk in the poppy seeds. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed 1 to 2 minutes until creamy.
Gradually add the granulated sugar, and beat until butter is pale and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula a couple of times.
Gradually add the eggs; beating after each addition until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.
Slowly add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until just combined. Mix in lemon juice, vanilla and lemon zest.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Start checking at 30 minutes to avoid over-baking.
Transfer the cake pans to wire racks to cool for approximately 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
In the bowl of your mixer, on medium-high speed, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
Add the cream or milk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Beat for 1 more minute then add one cup of confectioner sugar at a time until you have the desired consistency (I used 4 cups). Aadd the lemon zest and beat until incorporated.
Assembling and frosting the cake:
Using a serrated knife, trim the top off the first cake layer to create a flat surface. Place that layer (trimmed side down) on your cake stand and evenly spread the top with cream cheese frosting. Top the first layer with the second and spread the cream cheese frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
Keep frosted cake refrigerated. Remove from refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving.
- I used two 8x2 inch pans for this cake, the batter filled the pans close to the top but it did not overflow when baking, if you prefer you could make this in two 9x2 pans but the baking time will not be as long, I recommend you checking on it at 25 minutes if you choose to do so.
- This cake can be baked a day ahead of time and frosted on the day of serving. Once frosted keep the cake refrigerated.
- When making layered cakes, I always like to weigh my pans so that I know I have the same amount of batter in each, this way you get even layers.
- One medium sized lemon will yield approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- One medium sized lemon will yield approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon zest.
- The typical measurement to make your own buttermilk substitute at home is to add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a liquid measuring glass and to fill the glass with milk until you reach 1 cup. Since this recipe calls for 3/4 cup buttermilk, I measured 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and filled my cup with milk until it reached 3/4 cup. Stir the milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before using in the recipe. Please note you need milk with at least 1% milk fat to make your own buttermilk substitute.