Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
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4.42 from 17 votes

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

A delicious layered Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is a baking classic and a fabulous way to end the perfect meal.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Lemon Poppy Seed Cake, Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 32 minutes
Total Time 52 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 717kcal


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

  • 250 grams full-fat cream cheese 1 package, 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.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and buttermilk.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk and sour cream mixture, 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.


  1. 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.
  2. This cake can be baked a day ahead of time and frosted on the day of serving. Once frosted keep the cake refrigerated.
  3. 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.
  4. One medium sized lemon will yield approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  5. One medium sized lemon will yield approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon zest.
  6. 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.


Calories: 717kcal | Carbohydrates: 102g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 136mg | Sodium: 301mg | Potassium: 283mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 74g | Vitamin A: 1050IU | Vitamin C: 9.3mg | Calcium: 180mg | Iron: 2.3mg