1cupunsalted butter (more for cake pans)softened to room temperature
¾cupbuttermilkSee notes on how to make your own
5tablespoonslemon juicefrom 2 medium sized lemons
1-½teaspoonspure vanilla extract
3tablespoonslemon zestfrom 3 medium sized lemons
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
250gramsfull-fat cream cheese1 package, softened
4cupsconfectioners' sugar(powdered sugar)
1-2tablespoonsheavy cream, half and half or milk
1tablespoonslemon juicefreshly squeezed
½teaspoonpure vanilla extract
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 the parchment and sides of pan. 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 for 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 the 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). Add 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 the 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 three 8x2 pans which will yield thinner layers and take less time to bake. I recommend checking at 22 minutes and add time if needed. If using two 9x2 pans the baking time will be approximately 28 minutes, I recommend you checking on it at 25 minutes if you choose to do so. You can always add a couple minutes if needed.
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 use my kitchen scale to weigh the filled pans so that I know I have the same amount of batter in each. Using this technique helps 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 lemon juice (or vinegar) 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.