Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake

Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake

In September of 1983, I was starting middle school or what some call junior high. On my first day, I spotted a very good-looking boy in my class. He had brown hair, hazel eyes and was already 6 feet tall. Needless to say, I was far from the only one who noticed. After a few days, I was transferred to another class, but for the next two years I would spy him in the hall, he of course, not knowing I was alive.

When it was time for high school, we both chose to go to the same magnet school, I willingly, him begrudgingly. On our first day, our geometry teacher had the students exchange numbers and I got his! Clearly I had made the right decision in going there. Over time we became close friends and even though I heard over and over again that we would end up together, he came out to me junior year of college. Surprise! This is a modern love story.

Anyway, 20 years ago we both moved to New York City and got an apartment together. Shortly after arriving, we were out to lunch and the waitress asked if we wanted dessert. My faux bro asked what they had and when she said lemon poppyseed cake, he exclaimed enthusiastically, “Oh my favorite!” Huh? I had never heard of lemon poppyseed cake and yet it was his favorite? How can that be? So of course he ordered it and while I looked at it skeptically (I couldn’t imagine anything with poppy seeds being very good) I had to admit it was quite tasty.

Now today, lemon poppyseed cake is almost as common as apple pie. I mean, they have it in Starbucks. And honestly, next to being in McDonald’s, being in Starbucks it about as mainstream as you can get. So here is my recipe for the once foreign but now familiar Lemon Poppyseed Cake. Oh and in case you are wondering, even though we each have different husbands, we did end up together after all.

Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake

Yields One 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch cake, 8 servings

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Adapted from Ina Garten’s Plain Pound Cake

Inspired by Gale Gand’s Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Inspired by Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake


For the Cake:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (approx. 1 lemon)

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups flour mix C

3 tablespoons poppy seeds

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup heavy cream


For the Lemon Icing:

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine May 2007 Glazed Lemon Poppy-Seed Cake

1 ½ cups confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon whole milk



    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pan with parchment paper and grease and flour the sides.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a bowl, combine the vanilla, lemon zest, and buttermilk.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for at least 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl. Add the sugar and mix for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl.
  5. Place a bowl with the cream and the beaters in the freezer.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Mix each egg until combined and then for a minute more. Scrape down the bowl.
  7. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the bowl after each addition.
  8. Remove the cream and beaters from the freezer and whip only until soft peaks form. DO NOT OVERWHIP. Tip: Use a low speed on your electric mixer.
  9. Gently fold the whipped cream into the batter.
  10. Pour the batter into the pan. Bang down the pan a few times to level the batter and burst any air bubbles.
  11. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Tent it loosely with foil after 45 minutes so the top does not burn. The cake is done when you press the cake lightly with your finger and it springs back. Tip: If you are not sure if the cake is done, leave it a little longer. It is better to over bake a bit than under bake.
  12. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Then unmold the cake and wrap the hot cake in foil for at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.
  13. For the Lemon Icing:
  14. Put the lemon juice and milk In a small bowl.
  15. Whisk in the sugar in four parts. Whisk until each addition is smooth.
  16. Unwrap the cake and discard the foil. Pour the of the icing over the cake and use a spatula to spread it down the sides. Let the icing set before serving; about 15 minutes.

Daily Dish Magazine

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19 thoughts on “Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake

    1. To be honest I haven’t tried it. But since flour mix C weighs a bit more than regular flour, I’d use 2 1/2 cups of flour. Also, eliminate the heavy cream and there is no need to wrap it in foil after baking. If you try it, I’d love to know how it turns out. Please keep me posted. Happy Baking!

  1. This cake changed my entire outlook on pound cakes period. (my life will never be the same without it 🙂
    I ate 3 pounds in one sitting and wanted more!!!
    Highly recommended recipe. (must be the pixie dust that you put on it)

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