Bundt cakes like this Lemon Poppy Seed Cake are one of my favorite types of cake to make—they manage to be both a simple homey dessert and a showstopper. There really is nothing better for a home baker!
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake From Scratch
For this bundt cake, I wanted to make a cake that was reminiscent of a pound cake with a fine, buttery crumb that had lots of lemon flavor and a generous crunch of poppy seeds.
To achieve that texture I wanted, it ultimately came down to the amount of butter. I tested the cake with 1 cup and 1 1/2 cup of butter, and more butter was definitely better.
The lemon makes its way into this cake in three ways: in the batter by way of lots of zest and some juice, in the tangy lemon syrup that soaks into the warm cake, and in the zippy lemon glaze that is drizzled over top.
And for the poppy seed crunch, I add a generous 1/4 cup of seeds. This ensures that every slice is speckled with seeds and every bite has a little crunch.
The Best Bundt Cake Pan
There are a ton of gorgeous bundt pans available on the market these days, and any 10-cup capacity pan will work with this recipe. I particularly like the Nordic Ware Heritage pan I’ve used here for its dramatic peaks and slopes.
More Great Lemon Recipes!
- Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
- Easy Lemon Pudding
- Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies
- Glazed Lemon Bread
- Gingered Lemon Bars
Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
You'll need 6 to 8 lemons total for this recipe.
- For the cake:
- 3 cups (374g) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (43g) poppy seeds
- 1 1/2 cups (339g) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups (400g) sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest (from 4 to 6 lemons)
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- For the lemon syrup:
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- For the lemon glaze:
- 1 1/2 cups (170g) powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
- Pinch of kosher salt
Prep the pan:
Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Generously spray a 10-cup capacity bundt pan with baking spray.
Mix the dry ingredients:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.
Make the batter:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and lemon zest, beat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition.
Whisk the lemon juice and buttermilk together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on medium-low, beat in a third of the flour mixture, followed by a third of the milk mixture. Continue to add the flour and milk, alternating between the two and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Bake the cake:
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and even the top. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to make sure the batter settles into the crevices of the pan.
Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 60 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the top of the cake springs back to the touch.
Cool the cake:
Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes before unmolding on a wire rack. The cake should still be warm.
Make the syrup and drizzle over the cake:
While the cake is cooling in the pan, make the lemon syrup. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Boil until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat.
Brush the syrup over the still-warm, unmolded cake. You should use up all the syrup. Cool completely before icing.
Ice the cake:
To make the icing, whisk the powdered sugar and lemon juice together, followed by 1 tablespoon of the milk and the salt. Whisk in additional milk as needed until the icing is thin enough to pour, but still holds a ribbon on the surface.
Spoon the icing over the cooled cake. This cake keeps well, glazed or unglazed, at room temperature wrapped in plastic for 3 days. (If glazed, let the glaze set until dry to the touch before wrapping in plastic.)