Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
Friends, I’m beyond thrilled to bring you the best Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake you’ll ever have. I tested this recipe multiple times in order to get it *just* right. This lemon Bundt Cake has a beautifully balanced lemon flavor as well as a soft and really moist crumb texture.
You are going to really, I mean, REALLY, love this cake!
Lemon + poppy seeds is an iconic flavor (or more like texture) combination.
I don’t know what it is, but there’s lemon poppy seed everything. Which is totally fine by me! I love everything to do with lemons and adding poppy seeds is just an added bonus.
You’ll find several lemon and poppy seed recipes on Salt & Baker:
And then there are recipes utilizing lemons (minus the poppy seeds):
If you have 5-6 lemons and some basic pantry + kitchen staple ingredients, you’ll be set to make this citrus cake.
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder – a leavening agent that gives rise to the cake while in the oven. This cake was baked at sea level. If you’re baking at a high elevation you might consider following some of these guidelines (depending on how high your elevation is).
- Baking soda
- Poppy seeds – I use 3 tablespoons in this recipe, I love a poppy seed loaded cake!
- Butter – can use salted or unsalted.
- Granulated sugar – in addition to flavor sugar helps lock in moisture within cakes, provides tenderness, and helps deepen the color of baked goods.
- Lemon zest – you’ll need a little over 2 tablespoons of lemon zest, which equalled roughly 3 lemons zested.
- Fresh lemon juice – use the juice from the lemons you zested.
- Vanilla extract
- Vegetable oil – helps the cake be extra moist!
- Sour cream – another factor in adding moisture to cakes.
- For the glaze you’ll need more freshly squeezed lemon juice, vanilla extract, and some powdered sugar.
How to make Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
- Prep the bundt pan. Grease and flour your pan and use a baking spray that has flour in it. That last part is crucial. You need the flour in the spray otherwise your cake will stick to the pan and we don’t want that. Often times I’ll even grease and flour AND spray my bundt pan to ensure no cake is left behind.
- Combine the dry ingredients. In a bowl whisk the flour, leavening agents, salt, and poppy seeds.
- Cream the butter and sugar. You’ll want to cream the sugar and butter for 2-3 minutes on medium speed. You can use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or use hand beaters.
- Add the eggs. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add lemon and additional liquid ingredients. Mix in the lemon zest, vanilla extract, fresh lemon juice, and vegetable oil until thoroughly combined.
- Add flour and sour cream. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour (dry ingredients) and sour cream, starting and ending with the flour. For example: flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour. Mix until JUST combined. Don’t over mix. The batter will be fairly thick.
- Add batter to the bundt pan. Spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pan and level it off so that the top is even.
- Bake. Place the cake pan in a 350°F preheated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. Mine baked for 44 minutes. The cake is done when you insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake and it comes out clean with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter.
- Cool. Once baked remove the pan from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool on the wire rack until just warm to the touch. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and let it continue cooling until room temperature. <– This baking trick is one I use to keep my cakes moist. It’s amazing, try it!
- Top with lemon glaze. Once the cake is cool, drizzle the lemon glaze overtop. Slice and serve!
Make the glaze by whisking fresh lemon juice, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar together. The glaze should be a syrup-like consistency.
If the glaze is too thick, add a dash of milk or lemon juice to the glaze. On the other hand, if the glaze is too thin, add powdered sugar until it reaches your desired consistency.
Side note: One thing I like to do with my glazed bundt cakes is to drizzle a few tablespoons of a slightly thinner glaze over the cake. Then add more powdered sugar to make it thicker and drizzle that overtop. This way some of the thinner glaze sort of seeps into the cake and the thicker glaze sticks to the cake accentuating the appearance. Make sense?
Storing the cake
Store this cake covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.
FAQ and tips
Can I use concentrated lemon juice rather than fresh? Short answer, yes you can. Although I don’t see why you couldn’t use fresh lemon juice considering you need fresh lemon zest to make the actual cake. 🤔
Can I substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream? Yes you can. I usually lean towards sour cream when I bake cakes because it has a higher fat content compared to yogurt. However, using Greek yogurt will offer a slightly healthier cake and still lend delicious results. Pro tip: If you plan on substituting yogurt for the sour cream make a straight 1:1 substitution.
Can I substitute gluten-free flour for the all-purpose flour? Yes, use a 1:1 substitution. You might need to add xanthan gum as well. Check the ingredient list on the gluten free flour bag to see if xanthan gum has already been added. If not, you will want to add xanthan gum to the recipe (which helps with binding and holding moisture for this cake). You can use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free 1:1 baking flour. You can find it on Amazon, here.
Do I need to alter my baking for high elevation? This cake was made at sea level, so if you’ve had success baking cakes that were made at sea level, go ahead and make this cake as is. Air pressure is lower at higher altitudes so you may need to bake your cake for longer. I know some places suggest you up the oven temperature, but that can be risky with cake making. You don’t want the oven to be *too* hot because that can cause the cake to collapse. If you usually like to alter the recipe because you live at such a high altitude, you will find ample suggestions for how to approach this. Here is one example.
I’m so excited for you to try this recipe!
If you make this recipe, make sure to come back to rate it and leave a review. I really appreciate when you do so!!
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Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 3/4 cup butter - softened to room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 large eggs - at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sour cream - can substitute plain Greek yogurt in a 1:1 substitution.
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice - or as needed to thin out glaze
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the oven rack in the center position of the oven. Grease and flour a 10 cup bundt cake (see notes). Set aside
- In a medium size bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and poppy seeds. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 2-3 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Beating well after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest, vanilla, lemon juice, and vegetable oil until thoroughly combined.
- With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour and sour cream, starting and ending with the flour. (Flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour). Mix until JUST combined. Don’t overmix. The batter will be fairly thick.
- Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes. (Mine baked for 44 minutes). The cake is done when you insert a toothpick in the center of the cake and it comes out clean with a few moist crumbs on it but no wet batter.
- Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes in the bundt pan. Then, remove from the pan and cool until just warm to the touch. Once warm to the touch, lightly cover the cake with plastic wrap and let it cool completely. (This little trick helps keep the cake moist! It's amazing!!)
- Once cool, glaze with the lemon glaze.
- Whisk all of the ingredients together until smooth. The consistency should be pourable but thick, almost like a thick syrup. Add more powdered sugar to thick it up, or more lemon juice to thin it out.