Lemon Poppy Seed Poundcake Recipe (2024)

By Melissa Clark

Lemon Poppy Seed Poundcake Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour 20 minutes
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This lemon poppy seed poundcake is summery and quick to make, and perfect for a picnic. One tip: cut up the poundcake before the picnic but leave it in the baking pan. It makes it easier to transport, and the pan protects it, too. Then serve it on its own, with ripe berries, and let the ants enjoy the crumbs.

Featured in: The Ants Will Love You

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Yield:8 servings

  • Butter, for greasing pan
  • cup all-purpose flour, more for pan
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1cup sugar
  • ½cup buttermilk
  • 3tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3large eggs
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼teaspoon fine sea salt
  • cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1tablespoon poppy seeds
  • ½cup confectioners’ sugar

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

443 calories; 22 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 14 grams monounsaturated fat; 3 grams polyunsaturated fat; 57 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 34 grams sugars; 6 grams protein; 238 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Poundcake Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch loaf pan.

  2. In a bowl, combine lemon zest and sugar and rub with your fingers until it looks like wet sand. Whisk in buttermilk, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk dry ingredients into the batter, then whisk in oil and poppy seeds.

  3. Step


    Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan until warm to the touch, then turn out onto a baking rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Turn cake right side up.

  4. Step


    Whisk together remaining 4 teaspoons lemon juice and the confectioners’ sugar. Use a pastry brush to spread glaze evenly over top and sides of cake. Cool completely before slicing.



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Cooking Notes


Use Myer lemons, up the zest amnt
Add juice of 1/2 lemon to batter
Canola not olive
Change topping:
Boil 1/2 sugar with 1/4 c lemon juice
Poke holes, pour over after bake
Then bake a few xtra mins
Go heavy on poppy

Jón Helgi Þórarinsson

Please... use grams and millilitres, or have a conversion function. Baking is about precision and cups are an archaic and inaccurate form og measurement.


You could also substitute sour cream, which I do often as I usually don't have buttermilk.


Instead of 1/2 cup buttermilk,
you can use 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup plain yogurt.


Soaking the poppy seeds, in this case in the buttermilk, before baking always makes for better flavour and texture, I find.


I thought this lacked the brightness of lemon flavor. I added the full zest of two large lemons and the proper amount of lemon juice specified by the recipe. I also thought the olive oil weighted it down a bit flavor-wise -- and perhaps muted the lemon. It had a nice crumb texture even with the olive oil, but I could taste the olive oil and I would have rather had a burst of lemon lightness.

Chiara, Italia

Ingredients in metrics (not tested yet):
245 g flour
225 g sugar
133 ml buttermilk
150 ml olive oil
100 g confectioner's sugar


Substituted 2 lemons for 2 tangerinesSubstituted 2/3 c EVOO for 2/3 c melted butterLeft out poppyseeds"Made" buttermilk with 3 T milk + 1 T lemon juiceBEST citrus loaf I've ever had. Finally cracked the code, and will never make it any other way.

Andy in Iowa

Be advised: the EVOO leaves its mark. Imparts a savory element that, for me & my family, detracts from the goal of a bright lemon flavor infused into a dense, rich, mildly sweet pound cake.


Surprised at the number of people who use Meyer lemons and are surprised the cake isn't lemony enough. Meyer lemons are sweeter, milder, and less acidic than regular lemons so would expect they would make a less lemony cake with less zing. Also surprised at the number of people who use a strong EVOL and are surprised that the cake has a strong EVOL flavor. If you don't want a strong EVOL flavor don't used EVOL with a strong flavor. I thought the cake was absolutely delicious.


To those who didn't achieve satisfactory results: Maybe the missing ingredient was patience. Take your time. The combining of the zest and sugar ought to be done with firmness to release the essential oils of the lemon. Whisking should be thorough; separate ingredients should be indistinguishable. Allow the cake to cool before tipping it out of the pan. I think you'll find that patience isn't only its own reward--you'll have your cake, and eat it, too!


I've made this as written and loved it. But lately I have made it substituting orange for lemon and I think I like it even better.


I doubled the recipe and baked in a bundt pan. Very pleased, but next time will increase the lemon juice and the poppy seeds.


Wonderful! This is a beautiful dense cake just bursting with lemony goodness. I only had a 9x5" pan ... cooked perfectly in 55 minutes. I did have a little trouble removing from pan, but that's my fault for not dusting with flour as instructed (new nonstick so I thought I wouldn't need). The lemon glaze is outstanding ... I feel like a fool for not thinking of using lemon juice as a base myself. In any event, it's the perfect topping and I'll use on other cakes in future. Thank you!

Natalia L

Best lemon taste & moisture that I have encountered in any lemon poppy-seed bread/cake that I have found to date. I suspect the key is massaging the zest with the sugar and the buttermilk.

I have also made this as muffins and subbed whole wheat flour for the white. The cake was a little dryer as expected but still very moist for a muffin. - the recipe made 12 small muffins, next time I will use the same volume for 6, or double for 12.


Add more sugar. Perhaps ¼ to ⅓ cup.

Ellen R.

Y’all can make buttermilk! For each cup of buttermilk, you add a cup of milk to one tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar and stir; let sit for 5 minutes and voila! I’ve never bought it. I am Sicilian and embarrassed that I have just recently come to the revelation that olive oil is absolutely amazing in cakes. Y’all can make buttermilk! For each cup of buttermilk, you add a cup of milk to one tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar and stir; let sit for 5 minutes and voila! I’ve never bought it.

chef of the family

So soft and fluffy. I always seem to over or under bake a loaf cake but this one was PERFECT. My new favorite butter-less pound cake


Would probably add additional lemon juice the next time and a more neutral oil.


I found this recipe very disappointing which is rare for a 5 star rating. It was indeed overly olive oil tasting and I even used half canola and half olive oil based on other comments. I used 3 lemons for rind plus added a few drops of lemon oil and the olive oil still was very pronounced . I would sum this up in one word - meh


This recipe is on repeat in our house, it’s so good! Before making this lemon loaf for the first time, I read others’ notes on not enough lemon flavor coming through; so each time I’ve made it I’ve added 1 tsp lemon extract and I haven’t had that problem! I will also note that I’m also the type of baker who’s lazy and doesn’t add the lemon zest.


This isn’t a very sweet or particularly flavorful cake when made per instructions. It was very moist though. The glaze at the end adds the most lemon flavor and sweetness. Next time I’ll add a lot more lemon and poppy to the cake itself.


I thought this was quite good. I did use 1 tbsp more lemon juice and even 1/2 tsp of lemon extract to get stronger lemon flavor. I swapped out the olive oil for canola oil because my olive oil would be too strong for this. The glaze was essential and I made a little extra, glad I did. Will definitely make again.


This is my go to for dessert or as a side with tea or coffee. Found a lemon poppy muffin ice cream to top it for a real treat. Topped with blueberries.


I made it with raspberry flavored Siggis drinkable yogurt instead of buttermilk since that basically what I had available and cut back on some of the sugar in the mix but not on the pour. Worked out well. Raspberry lemony tang with sweet on top


I agree with many other comments here: not very lemony, and the olive oil was overpowering. However, I am going to try it again with a light & fruity olive oil and more lemon zest, as the cake was very pretty & a delightful texture.

Natalie Serber

Made this today, on a rainy afternoon. I reduced the sugar to 3/4 cup, used whole wheat pastry flour, and reduced the powdered sugar to 1/3 cup. Then I told myself it was healthy! 😉

Jess Bee

1T poppy seeds just can't be enough - the merest whiff of poppy seeds! A smattering! Go big, friends!


I am really interested in the substitutions list for this recipe. Wheat is not good for me but I love baked goods. I would love to try this recipe but there's no substitution for wheat flour. Anyone try this with another type of flour that holds together and doesn't dry to crumbles when baking?


King Arthur Flour makes a very good GF flour (so, wheat free), called Measure for Measure, that you can substitute 1:1 with the flour in any recipe. I use it to bake for friends that don't eat gluten. You should be able to find it at a local grocery store, or you can order it from King Arthur Flour, or Amazon.


Subbed whey leftover from making yoghurt for buttermilk and subbed 3/4 cup of flour for almond flour. Still turned out delicious!

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Lemon Poppy Seed Poundcake Recipe (2024)


Do you have to soak poppy seeds before baking? ›

It is not absolutely necessary but some bakers like to soak the poppyseeds in warm water or warm milk to soften the slightly hard outermost part of the poppyseed. I like that little crunch with poppyseeds but if you don't, soak the poppyseeds in the milk you'll be using in this recipe.

Why is my lemon pound cake dry? ›

A dry cake is usually the result of one of the following pitfalls: using the wrong ingredients, making mistakes while measuring or mixing the batter, or baking the cake too long or at too high a temperature.

What is wrong with my pound cake? ›

Pound cake is SUPPOSED to be a little dense. But it's not supposed to feel heavy or dry. If it's dry, the cake may have been over-baked. Pound cake can also be too dry if you added too much flour (or not enough butter or sugar).

What makes a pound cake heavy? ›

Store brands of sugar are often more finely ground than name brands, yielding more sugar per cup, which can cause the cake to fall. Store brands of butter may contain more liquid fat, and flours more hard wheat, making the cake heavy.


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