This lemon poppy seed cake is baked in a 9X9 pan and is full of fresh lemons and poppy seeds. It is topped with a lemon cream cheese frosting. This is a perfect spring cake with a fresh lemon flavor.
This lemon poppy seed cake is moist and tender with the perfect texture. The lemon poppy seed cake and lemon cream cheese frosting combine to make the best cake for lemon lovers. This cake will be the first dessert to be eaten at any spring celebration!
Why This Recipe Works
- Lemon poppy seed flavor- This lemon poppyseed cake tastes like fresh lemons and just the right amount of poppy seeds. So good!
- Moist cake- This lemon poppy seed cake recipe is designed to give you a perfect tender texture and moist lemon cake every time.
- Easy recipe- This recipe does not have any difficult steps and breaks the recipe down in an easy to follow way.
Here are some notes on the ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Unsalted butter- Pull this out 2 hours before baking.
- Sour cream- Use full fat sour cream or plain greek yogurt. Pull this out 2 hours before baking.
- Oil- Use canola oil, vegetable oil, or olive oil.
- Eggs- Pull the large eggs out 2 hours before baking to get room temperature eggs.
- Buttermilk- Use full fat or reduced fat buttermilk. Pull this out 2 hours before baking.
- Cream Cheese- Pull this out 2 hours before baking.
- Powdered sugar- Make sure this is sifted to ensure a smooth icing.
- Fresh Lemons- I used medium sized lemons. After zesting the lemons you can juice them for fresh lemon juice! Fresh lemon zest is important for bringing out a strong lemon flavor.
Step By Step Instructions - Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Here is how to make and bake this lemon poppy seed cake. This recipe uses a stand mixer with paddle attachment.
STEP 1: Prep. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Next, spray a 9X9 inch square baking pan with nonstick baking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray it again.
STEP 2: Dry ingredients. Sift the all purpose flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Add in the poppy seeds and salt.
STEP 3: Beat butter, oil and sugar. Use your mixer to beat together the butter, oil, and sugar on high speed for 3 minutes. It will be a light color when it is done.
STEP 4: Wet ingredients. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and sour cream to the butter mixture and mix on medium. Then, add the eggs and mix on medium speed until combined.
At this stage the batter will appear separated due to the acid from the lemon. This is normal.
STEP 5: Combine. Add ⅓ of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk. Mix it on low speed until almost combined. Then, add the rest of the buttermilk and another ⅓ of the flour mixture. When that is combined add the remaining flour mixture.
STEP 6: Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake it for 25-30 minutes. It is done when a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
STEP 7: Cool. Let the cake cool in the baking pan for 10 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Step By Step Instructions - Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Here is how to make the lemon cream cheese frosting.
STEP 1: Beat butter and cream cheese. Using your mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed for 2 minutes.
Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through to incorporate all of it.
STEP 2: Add powdered sugar. Add the powdered sugar to the cream cheese mixture and mix it on low speed until it is combined.
STEP 3: Beat it. Add in the lemon zest and salt. Then, mix it on high speed until it is a creamy frosting.
STEP 4: Decorate the cake. Spread the icing over your top of the cake. Use extra lemon zest and poppy seeds to decorate it.
Expert Baking Tips
- Properly measure the flour- Make sure the flour is spooned and leveled. If you stick the measuring cup directly into the flour, it will compact the flour. Compacted flour can cause the cake to be dry.
- To easily remove the cake from the pan, make sure to first spray the pan with baking nonstick spray. Then, line bottoms with parchment paper and spray it again to make sure that the paper does not stick to the bottom of the cake too much. If you miss any spots with the spray they can stick and tear the cake so be thorough.
- For high altitude baking add 2 tablespoon of flour to the cake batter.
- When frosting use an offset spatula to spread it in an even layer.
Yes you can make the cake ahead of time! Once the cake layer is done cooling, wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Then, freeze up to 30 days. Pull it out 1 hour before decorating.
Yes you can. An 8X8 pan will make a thicker cake. A 9in round pan will also work, but will be slightly thicker than a 9 in square as well.
Yes it can! This recipe will make roughly 12 cupcakes.
Storing and Freezing
Store this lemon poppy seed cake in an airtight container like a cake carrier. Store in the fridge up to 5 days.
You can freeze the lemon poppy seed cake in individual cake slices. Place in an airtight container and freeze up to 30 days.
Other Recipes To Try
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
- 2 ¼ cup All-purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoon Baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon Baking soda
- 1 tablespoon Poppy Seeds
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ cup Unsalted butter room temperature
- 3 tablespoon Oil canola or vegetable oil
- 1 cup White granulated sugar
- 3 Lemons zested
- 2 tablespoon Lemon juice 1 lemon
- ¼ cup Sour cream room temperature
- 3 Large eggs room temperature
- ¾ cup Buttermilk room temperature
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- ¾ cup Unsalted butter room temperature
- 8 oz Cream cheese room temperature
- 2 cups Powdered sugar sifted
- 1 Lemon zested
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- Top with extra lemon zest and poppy seeds
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350℉. Spray a 9X9-inch square baking pan with baking nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper (I used an 8 inch parchment paper circle) and spray again.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add in the poppy seeds and salt. Set aside.2 ¼ cup All-purpose flour, 2 ½ teaspoon Baking powder, ¼ teaspoon Baking soda, 1 tablespoon Poppy Seeds, ½ teaspoon Salt
- Using a mixer, beat the butter, oil, and sugar on high speed for 3 minutes. It will become light in color.½ cup Unsalted butter, 3 tablespoon Oil, 1 cup White granulated sugar
- Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and sour cream and mix on medium. Add in the eggs and mix on medium until combined. The batter will appear separated, but this is normal because of the acid from the lemon.3 Lemons zested, 2 tablespoon Lemon juice, ¼ cup Sour cream, 3 Large eggs
- Add ⅓rd of the dry ingredients and half of the buttermilk and mix on low speed. Add another ⅓rd of the dry ingredients and the rest of the buttermilk. Then, finish with the rest of the dry ingredients.¾ cup Buttermilk
- Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Let the cake sit in the hot pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool the cake completely before decorating.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Using a mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl using a rubber spatula.¾ cup Unsalted butter, 8 oz Cream cheese
- Add in the sifted powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined. Add in the lemon zest and salt. Mix on high speed until creamy.2 cups Powdered sugar, 1 Lemon zested, ¼ teaspoon Salt
- Spread the icing on top of the cake. Decorate with extra lemon zest and poppy seeds.Top with extra lemon zest and poppy seeds