Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


Could there be a more perfect spring cake?? This brightly flavored Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is just what I need to end a long cold winter and bounce right into the new season (don’t get me wrong I love all four seasons but by the end of each one I’m ready for the next). This cake has got to be one of my favorites! I love lemon everything, it’s just one of those flavors that you don’t have to question and it balances out the sweetness perfectly. And then when you add those faintly crunchy little flecks of poppy seeds to the mix for a light flavor and textural contrast, and top each layer of the cake with a rich cream cheese frosting you know it’s a cake that won’t let you down. This is a crowd pleasing cake that’s sure to get some praise, people will be swooning over each soft and fluffy, sweet lemony bite!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Cooking Classy

I made this cake with two kinds of Wholesome Organic sugars. Have you tried Wholesome products yet? I absolutely love them! They have such pure, delicious taste and I love that their products are certified organic, non-GMO, and made with 100% real and recognizable ingredients. It’s also great to know that they support family-run farms and are Fair Trade certified. Wholesome offers such a wide range of sweeteners such as coconut sugar, cane sugar, turbinado sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, stevia, molasses, maple syrup, honey and they even make pancake syrup, frostings (chocolate, strawberry and vanilla) and candy! The two sugars I used in this recipe are the Wholesome Organic Cane Sugar and Wholesome Organic Powdered Sugar. The cane sugar is a good replacement for white sugar for things like baking cakes and cookies (or to sweeten just about anything), and the powdered sugar is perfect for frostings.


Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Cooking Classy

I’m slowly working on adding more organic foods into my families diet (I just made the jump to organic milk a few months ago) so I love knowing there’s now organic sweeteners that are more easily accessible for everyone. You can find many of these products at nationwide grocery stores now. Try them in this cake and see for yourself the great end result you’ll get!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Cooking Classy Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Cooking Classy

Want to see how to make this lemon poppyseed cake? Watch the video!


Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

4.67 from 3 votes



  • 2 3/4 cups (352g) cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp (30g) poppy seeds
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups (366g) Wholesome Organic Cane Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon zest (from about 4 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups (315ml) buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Simple syrup

  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Wholesome Organic Cane Sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3/4 cup butter , at room temperature (preferably 1/2 cup unsalted and 1/4 cup salted)
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (16 oz) pkg. Wholesome Organic Powdered Sugar, sifted


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans then line with a round of parchment paper. Butter parchment paper, lightly dust pans with cake flour and shake out excess, set pans aside. Sift cake flour into a large mixing bowl. Add baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds and whisk 20 seconds, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together butter, cane sugar and lemon zest until mixture becomes very pale and fluffy. Mix in canola oil then blend in eggs one at a time, mixing just until combined after each addition. Mix in lemon extract and vanilla extract. In a liquid measuring cup mix together buttermilk with lemon juice.
  3. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on low speed just until combined. Add in 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and mix just until combined. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Mix in remaining 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and finish by mixing in the last 1/3 of the flour mixture. Scrape sides and bottom with a spatula and gently fold until batter is evenly incorporated.
  4. Divide batter among two prepared cake pans. Spread into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 30 - 34 minutes. Remove from oven let cool in pan 5 minutes then run a knife around edges of cake to loosen and invert cakes onto wire racks. While cakes are still warm, using a pastry brush, brush cakes with simple syrup. About halfway through cooling I recommend transfer cakes to an airtight container to seal in moisture. Let cakes cool completely then frost with cream cheese frosting.
  5. For the simple syrup:
  6. In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat whisk together lemon juice and can sugar until sugar has dissolved.
  7. For the cream cheese frosting:
  8. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in vanilla extract and powdered sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Freeze in 3 minute increments as needed, stirring between increments until frosting is desired consistency.
  9. *For best results measure in grams using a kitchen scale. If you don't have one, lightly fluff bag of flour then scoop into a measuring cup and sweep top with a knife to level.
  10. Recipe source: Cooking Classy

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Wholesome Sugar. The opinions and text are all mine.


  • Nancy Stein: Jaclyn,
    Would like to make this cake ahead of time and freeze. My daughter requested this cake for her wedding. Have you frozen this cake finished and if so any advice? August 22, 2017 at 2:03pm Reply

  • Shannon: Making the cake right now for the second time. It’s heavenly and a perfect way to start using up all the lemon juice and zest I’ve frozen from our 2 lemon trees. Love your blog, love your recipes and love this cake. April 22, 2017 at 2:03pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for taking the time to comment Shannon! May 2, 2017 at 10:52am Reply

  • Pete Gono: Made this delicious cake. However, I added melted white chocolate to the cream cheese frosting…wonderful March 27, 2017 at 4:14am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Sounds divine! March 27, 2017 at 10:27am Reply

  • Yael: Hi Jaclyn,
    What kind of poppy seeds do you use and where do you get them? I could only find the Solo Poppy Seed cake and Pastry filling that comes presweetened in a can. Would I use 3 1/2 Tbsp of the canned Poppy seed for your cake? Thank you!! March 17, 2017 at 4:56pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: The filling has other added ingredients so I recommend plain poppy seeds here. They are found in the spice section of most grocery stores (I recommend looking out for a larger container as they’re much cheaper). March 17, 2017 at 11:17pm Reply

  • DONNA: I just made this cake it is delicious! I did have a problem with measurements this filled the 9 inch pans just 1/4 inch from the top of the pan and it overflowed – stupid me I should have filled only 1/3 of way – oh well time to clean the oven! Next time I will make in a sheet pan or make 4 layers with 9 inch pan I will definitely make again it is that good!
    I love your website, stories and pictures n the wonderful recipes P. S. I made the pan seared salmon the nite before perfect! Thanks and Best, Donna March 11, 2017 at 6:31pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: So sorry that happened, not sure why?? I’ve made this cake 3 times and never had a problem. But yes if you still end up with a lot of batter next time I’d go with the three layers :).
      I’m so glad you liked the salmon as well! Thanks for the compliments Donna! March 13, 2017 at 11:55pm Reply

      • DONNA: Jaclyn I know what I did wrong ! I didn’t sift the flour n I didn’t measure the grams witch was just silly because I have a scale n I now know not to miss this important step! Well we are getting at least 3 feet of snow today in pleasant valley new york so I am sure there is some cookie recipe I will b making from your website ! Enjoy your day, Donna March 14, 2017 at 10:03am Reply

        • Jaclyn: I always use a scale now when I bake and I can’t ever go back. I actually use both (cups and a scale) so I can share both units of measurement but I definitely think the scale is the most accurate. Still though I can’t believe you had so much batter with 2 9-inch pans, sorry.
          I hope you find a cookie recipe you love on here and enjoy your day as well! March 15, 2017 at 11:13am Reply

  • Kristen: This looks absolutely divine! I’m going to make this next week. Do you have any recommendations for converting this to cupcakes instead of a cake? I wanted to tell you too how much I love your photography, and food presentation- you do such a good job, and I’ve never made anything from your blog that wasn’t deeeeeelicious! Keep up the good work :) March 11, 2017 at 12:37pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I don’t think you’d have to change anything to switch to cupcakes. And thank you so much for the compliments Kristen! March 13, 2017 at 11:52pm Reply

  • Paige Flamm: This cake looks incredible! I wish I was eating some right now!

    http://thehappyflammily.com March 9, 2017 at 1:20pm Reply

  • Juliana Ramsey: Jaclyn, I know what your probably thinking, “Juliana, where have you been? You haven’t talked to me lately.:” I’m sorry, Jaclyn LOL! Now back to dessert, it looks so GOOD, and I have been wanting to try the Organic Powdered Sugar! My parents want me to start baking with Organic ingredients, so I will have to try this one out!! XOXO March 9, 2017 at 10:22am Reply

    • Jaclyn: It’s good to hear from you Juliana :)! I hope you get a chance to try this cake, and this sugar. Love them both! March 13, 2017 at 11:51pm Reply

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