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lemon poppy seed cake recipe

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • Author: Katya
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hr 30 min
  • Yield: 12 slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American


Super moist, creamy, and topped with a luscious cream cheese lemon glaze, this lemon poppy seed loaf cake is SO good! 



Cake Layer

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, full fat
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest, from about 4 lemons
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Cream Cheese Layer

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg

Lemon Glaze

  • 2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Cake Layer: Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, olive oil, and vanilla until well blended and smooth. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Some lumps are okay. Avoid over-mixing.
  3. Cream Cheese Layer: With a handheld or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add sugar and egg, and beat to combine, scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. Spoon half of the cake batter into prepared loaf pan. Add the cream cheese mixture, spreading evenly over the cake batter. Top with the remaining cake batter. If some cream cheese mixture comes out on the sides, that’s okay.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, tenting the cake with aluminum foil after 30 minutes to prevent the top and sides from over-browning. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  6. Remove cake from the oven and place on a wire rack. Allow cake to cool in the pan on the wire rack for at least 30 minutes up to 1 hour, then carefully remove the slightly warm cake from the pan. Continue to cool on a wire rack or a serving dish.
  7. Lemon Glaze: With a handheld or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice; continue beating until smooth. Consistency should be thick and creamy. Drizzle the glaze over cooled or slightly warm cake.


  • Over-Baking: The key to this loaf cake is not to overtake it. When testing for doneness, simply insert a toothpick into the center of the cake and it should come out mostly clean. If some moist crumbs stick to the toothpick that is okay.
  • Lemon Flavor: Make sure to use freshly squeezed lemon juice and not bottled juice. Otherwise, the flavor will be too sour.
  • Leftovers: Leftover cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 2-3 days or refrigerated up to 1 week.

Keywords: loaf cake, lemon cake, poppy seed cake