Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

03.09.2017

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!

slice of Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I love lemon everything. It’s just one of those flavors that you don’t have to question, and it balances out the sweetness in any dessert 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!

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). The powdered sugar is perfect for frostings.

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 lemon cake and see for yourself the great end result you’ll get!

Want to see how to make lemon poppy seed cake? Watch the video!

Making lemon poppy seed cake batter in metal mixing bowl

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake Ingredients

  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Salt
  • Poppy seeds
  • Unsalted butter
  • Wholesome Organic cane sugar
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Canola oil
  • Eggs
  • Vanila and lemon extracts
  • Buttermilk
  • Cream Cheese
  • Wholesome Organic powdered sugar

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting on wood board

How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prep the cake pans.
  • Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy.
  • Mix in canola oil and eggs, then add in the lemon and vanilla extracts.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the buttermilk and lemon juice.
  • Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the butter/sugar mixture.
  • Divide cake batter between the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Remove cakes from oven. While they’re still warm, brush with simple syrup.

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add in vanilla extract and powdered sugar and mix until fluffy.
  • Freeze in 3-minute increments as needed until frosting is desired consistency.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with cream cheese frosting and lemon slices on top

Can I Omit the Lemon Extract if I Don’t Have Any?

I wouldn’t recommend that. The lemon extract really makes this lemon poppy seed cake — without it, I’m not sure the lemon flavor would be strong enough.

Can I Use a Buttermilk Substitute, if Needed?

Without having tested it, I can’t say for sure if a buttermilk substitute would work. But I think a mixture of whole milk and lemon juice could be substituted in a pinch.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting on wooden platter

Tips for the Best Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • 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.
  • About halfway through cooling the baked lemon cakes, I recommend transferring them to an airtight container to seal in their moisture.
  • Let the cake layers cool completely before adding the homemade cream cheese frosting. Otherwise, the frosting will melt!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Cooking Classy

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

4.75 from 4 votes

The best lemon poppy seed cake! Two moist, fluffy, lemony layers of poppy seed swirled cake are each covered with a layer of decadent cream cheese frosting. In other words, you'll be savoring every crumb!

Servings: 14
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

Cake

  • 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

Instructions

  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: In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat whisk together lemon juice and can sugar until sugar has dissolved.

  6. For the cream cheese frosting: 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.

Recipe Notes

  • *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.
Nutrition Facts
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 634 Calories from Fat 288
% Daily Value*
Fat 32g49%
Saturated Fat 16g100%
Cholesterol 119mg40%
Sodium 331mg14%
Potassium 189mg5%
Carbohydrates 81g27%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 61g68%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 930IU19%
Vitamin C 2.8mg3%
Calcium 122mg12%
Iron 0.8mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Calories: 634 kcal
Author: Jaclyn

28 comments

  • Maddi: Hey there :)
    Do you think if I baked the cake a couple day some ahead and froze them then assembled the cake would it be alright? June 28, 2019 at 9:24am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes the cake layers should freeze well. July 7, 2019 at 10:12pm Reply

  • Maddi: Can i use granulated sugar instead of the cane sugar? June 19, 2019 at 11:17pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes. June 19, 2019 at 11:37pm Reply

  • Sophia: Recipe works really well, can’t fault it! Thanks :) February 16, 2019 at 3:06pm Reply

  • Zin: I fogot to put egg. It still can use or not? help me November 18, 2018 at 9:45pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Oh no sorry I hate when that happens! I’d start over with eggs because it really is the binder here and gives rise and structure to the cake. November 22, 2018 at 1:53pm Reply

  • Aadi: Hi Jaclyn,
    Thank you for the recipe! This is probably the first recipe off the internet which I’ve used which hasn’t been a failure!:D
    The cake came out really soft and fluffy, and smelled and tasted great!
    I substituted the lemon extract with another tsp of fresh lemon juice and used the rind of 2 lemons instead of 4.
    The rest of your food looks great as well…I’m going to have to slowly cook/bake my way through them:)
    Thanks again! July 9, 2018 at 3:11pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: You’re welcome! Hope you love them all! :) July 9, 2018 at 5:00pm Reply

  • Afra Taidin: I kid you not. This recipe is fullproof! Super soft, not too sweet and just yumm. I subs the cheese with a lemon fresh whipped cream. Why i said its good? Because Ive tried so many recipe, and this one is the fluffiest.

    Love from Malaysia June 20, 2018 at 8:33am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for taking the time to comment and visiting all the way from Malaysia! June 29, 2018 at 11:55am Reply

  • zero b service: I love this Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting!!! I will most definitely be trying this out. Thanks for the
    recipe. January 29, 2018 at 4:53am Reply

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