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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the simple syrup: In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat whisk together lemon juice and can sugar until sugar has dissolved.
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.
*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.