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a slice of lemon poppy seed cake topped with lemon curd

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

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4.9 from 28 reviews

  • Author: Jenna Barnard
  • Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 12 slices


This lemon poppy seed cake is made with SO much fresh lemon flavor and is all topped with a swirled lemon curd cream cheese frosting. It’s bright, zesty, moist, soft, and so delicious.


Homemade Lemon Curd (can sub store bought)

  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp organic* lemon zest (2 large lemons)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) fresh organic* lemon juice (23 large lemons)
  • 1/4 cup (55g) unsalted butter, sliced into tablespoons

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • 2 cups (264g) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (98g) cake flour*
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest (23 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup (108g) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 large eggs, room temp
  • 1/3 cup (80g) freshly squeezed lemon juice (23 lemons)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (118g) milk, room temp
  • 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream, room temp

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz full fat cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 4 cups (440g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Homemade Lemon Curd

  1. Whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan.
  2. Once smooth and well combined, whisk in the lemon zest and juice.
  3. Cook over medium heat until thickened, occasionally stirring (using a rubber spatula) at the beginning but constantly mixing near the end. It should take about 8-10 minutes on a gas stove top or 20 minutes on an electric stove top.
  4. Remove from heat and toss in the butter. Stir until melted and combined.
  5. Pour the curd into a wide and shallow heat proof container. Cover the container and let it chill while we bake the cake.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.
  3. In a measuring glass, mix together the milk and sour cream.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar using your fingers. This will help release even more lemon flavor.
  5. Now whisk in the oil and melted butter, followed by the eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  6. Pour in half of the dry ingredients and whisk.
  7. Right before it’s combined, pour in the milk and sour cream and whisk.
  8. Add in the rest of the dry ingredients and whisk until everything is smooth and combined.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs.
  10. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In a mixing bowl using a hand or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Then mix in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, followed by the vanilla.
  3. Once the cake has cooled, lift it out of the pan and top with a layer of the cream cheese frosting.
  4. Scoop little spoonfuls of curd all throughout the surface (you only need about 3/4 of the curd) and swirl into the frosting.
  5. Top with a sprinkle of poppy seeds and enjoy!


CAKE FLOUR SUB – If you don’t have cake flour, you can use a combination of regular flour and cornstarch. Measure out 3/4 cup of flour and remove 2 tablespoons. Then whisk in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Use this mixture in place of the cake flour in this recipe.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cooling Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
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