Citrus season continues with this Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Cake as my latest addition to the season of citrus desserts. It's a wonderful combination of lemon cake, filled with poppy seeds and topped with not one, but two lemon glazes for a triple lemon punch. Read on to learn how to make this delicious cake. And if you want to receive notifications of new recipes sign up for my baking newsletter.
Why This Recipe Works
This delicious cake is based on the Pound Cake recipe from The Cake Bible. If you've read any of my other posts you know that I love this book and it's one of my top cookbook recommendations. Like a traditional pound cake, this recipe uses equal amounts of sugar, flour, butter, and eggs. But in addition, the recipe contains baking powder and baking soda to provide lift and a more open crumb. The tart lemon glaze is a perfect accompaniment and finish to this cake.
What are Meyer Lemons
I love Meyer Lemons. Unlike lemons which are year-round, Meyer lemons have a short season (January - March) so I buy them almost weekly to try in new desserts or just to use for everyday stuff like salad dressings. Meyer lemons are a cross between lemons and tangerines. They are sweeter and juicier than regular lemons and typically the skin is thinner. You can use them in any recipe that uses lemon, but because they are juicier you may not need as many if you normally use regular lemons.
The Pound Cake Ingredients
The recipe ingredients are the traditional pound cake ingredients in addition to lot of poppy seeds for a little added crunch.
- Cake Flour. The cake flour provides structure.
- Granulated Sugar. The sugar adds moisture in addition to the normal sweetness
- Unsalted Butter. Butter adds flavor and fat. The butter should be at room temperature, about 68 degrees F.
- Meyer Lemons - Zest and Juice. Lemons are the major flavor component.
- Poppy Seeds. The poppy seeds add crunch and visual appeal
- Whole Eggs. Egg yolks add moistures and eggs whites add structure
- Sour Cream. Sour cream adds flavor and moisture. If you don't have sour cream, full-fat yogurt (not Greek yogurt) or buttermilk can be substituted
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda. Provide lift to the cake. The baking soda also helps the cake brown, since the acid in the lemon juice and sour cream can inhibit browning.
How to Make the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
As I said earlier this recipe is based on the Pound Cake recipe from The Cake Bible. I love this recipe, but since I started my blog I am more willing to experiment with tried and true recipes which is why I made a few changes to this recipe. The original recipe is based on a traditional pound cake recipe, where you have equal amounts of sugar, flour, eggs, and butter by weight.
I used the two-stage method of mixing all the dry ingredients together and then adding the butter and wet ingredients. This method prevents too much gluten formation, by coating the flour particles with fat before the liquid is added.
To maximize the lemon flavor in the cake I used my fingers to rub the lemon zest and sugar together before adding the other dry ingredients. I use this method for most of my recipes that call for any type citrus fruit zest - lemon, orange, and lime.
Since I was using about 2 cups of flour I followed the rule of 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup of flour and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per 1 cup of flour. Baking soda is 4 times stronger than baking powder which is why I'm only using one quarter the amount. I used both baking powder and baking soda to give the cake some lift. I wanted a cross between the tenderness of a regular butter cake and the denseness of a typical pound cake.
After the dry ingredients are mixed together add the butter, half of the egg-sour cream mixture and the lemon juice. Mix on low-speed to combine and then beat on medium speed for 90 seconds.
Add the remaining egg-sour mixture in two batches mixing on medium speed each time until it is well incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and them mix for several more seconds to ensure everything is mixed together.
The cake bakes 55 to 65 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few crumbs clinging to the tester. If you are using a larger pan start testing the cake for doneness after 40 minutes.
How to Make the Lemon-Butter Glaze
While the cake is still baking, make the lemon butter glaze. This glaze is really good and adds an extra lemon punch to the cake. The cake can be made without this glaze, but you don't want to miss out on this delicious glaze.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, use a wooden or metal skewer to poke holes all over the cake surface and brush the cake with the lemon glaze while it is still hot.
Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes, use a butter knife to loosen it from the sides of the pan and then invert onto parchment paper, then turn right side up and allow the cake to cool.
At this point, the cake is ready to eat, but you can also glaze it with a powdered sugar lemon glaze for that extra lemon kick.
I've been wanting to make a lemon poppy seed cake for a while. I made multiple versions of this cake before I got it right and I am really happy with this version. It's moist, tender and full of lemon flavor. I hope you try this recipe and let me know what you think. Tag me on Instagram @bakesbybrownsugar or leave a comment on the site.
Other Lemon and Meyer Lemon Recipes
If you're looking for other lemon treats check out these recipes at the Bakes by Brown Sugar blog:
- Homemade Lemon Curd
- The Ultimate Lemon Bundt Cake
- Meyer Lemon Cardamom Pound Cake
- Lemon Poppy Seed Scones
- Meyer Lemon Tart
- Meyer Lemon Upside Down Cake
Recommended Equipment: USA Pan 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch loaf pan.
Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
- 2 1/4 cups (225 grams) sifted cake flour
- 3 tablespoons (27 grams) poppy seeds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (225 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest 2 or 3 lemons
- 16 tablespoons (227 grams) unsalted butter room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
- 4 (200 grams) large eggs, room temperature
- 6 tablespoons (80 grams) full-fat sour cream
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Butter Lemon Glaze
- 3 tablespoons (38 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter
Powdered Sugar Glaze
- 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
For the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan.
- Combine the eggs and sour cream in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Place the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. In a medium bowl, place the sugar and zest the lemons onto the sugar. Use your fingers to mix the zest into the sugar until it very fragrant. Add the sugar-lemon mixture to the dry ingredients. With the paddle attachment mix the dry ingredients for 30 seconds.
- Add the butter, one half of the egg mixture and the lemon juice and mix on low speed until the ingredients are just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add the remaining egg mixture in two batches and beat after each addition until the eggs are just combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for another 10 seconds to thoroughly combine.
- Scrape the cake batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to smooth and even out the top.
- Bake the cake for 55 to 65 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Lemon Butter Glaze
- Ten minutes before the cake is done, combine the sugar, lemon juice and butter in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved, and the butter is just melted.
- When you remove the cake from the oven, use the cake tester to poke holes all over the cake and brush the lemon-butter glaze all over the top of the cake. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes in the loaf pan. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and then turn right side up and allow to cool until completely cooled, about 1 hour.
Powdered Sugar Glaze
- Combine the powdered sugar, the lemon juice and heavy cream in a medium bowl and stir until it is smooth. Pour the glaze over the completely cooled cake. Use an offset spatula to spread the glaze to cover the entire top of the cake.