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Cut poppy seed bundt cake on white plate

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings 1x
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This is probably my favorite lemon cake ever! The added poppy seeds make is heavenly.
Crunchy and moist, this is one of those recipes that must be kept close by from now on. Worth making it a million times!



For the cake:

  • 3 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, at room t°
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room t*
  • 1 cup (250g) whole milk
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 Tbsp. poppy seeds

For the syrup:

  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup sugar

Powdered sugar glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 to 4 Tbs lemon juice (or limoncello, a lemon liquor)


Making the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F /180°C.
  2. Butter and flour pan (see notes below) or spray with baking spray containing flour. Refrigerate while preparing the batter.
  3. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand-mixer with the paddle attachment), cream soft butter and gradually add sugar.
  4. Beat for 3 minutes until it is creamy and light.
  5. Add lemon zest and mix well.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Add sifted flour with salt and baking powder in 3 parts, alternating with the milk in 2 parts. That means you begin and end with flour.
  8. Beat at low speed until it is well mixed but don’t over beat.
  9. Add poppy seeds and mix with a spatula, making sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl and the batter is uniform.
  10. Take the prepared pan from the refrigerator and pour the batter, making sure it reaches the sides.
  11. Lift the pan and bang it lightly against the counter so that any air bubbles rise to the top and you can pop them. This will prevent (as much as we can) the batter baking with holes inside.
  12. Bake for 1 hour or so, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. It might take 5-10 more or less minutes, depending on the pan size and material it is made of.
  13. Have ready the syrup mixture.
  14. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack and brush the syrup all over the cake.
  15. Let cool 15 minutes, make sure the syrup didn’t stick to the sides, grab the pan with both hands (and a kitchen towel) and move it carefully up and down and left to right. You will feel that it loosens. And at some point when you move it up and down you will be certain that the whole cake is loose and will unmold well.
  16. If some parts are sticking, carefully use a smooth bladed knife to separate the cake from the sides and the center.
  17. IMPORTANT: if you prefer to wait 15-20 minutes while the cake cools on a wire rack after you remove it from the oven, do so. Unmold it and then add the syrup. The cake will still be hot enough to absorb it but not as much as if you do it while pipping hot. It will leave a thin layer of sugar. BUT, you will remove the cake easier from the pan. Your call.
  18. Put the cooled cake on a wire rack over a large piece of parchement paper.
  19. Pour the glaze and let it run down the sides.
  20. How it runs will depend on the bundt cake pan you use.
  21. If it’s too thin add a second layer of glaze, scooping it from the paper or making a new batch.

Making the syrup:

  1. Mix the sugar with the room t° juice right before you brush it.
  2. The sugar will not dissolve completely.

Making the glaze:

  1. Mix the powdered sugar with half the juice and mix.
  2. Add the rest by teaspoons until you have a smooth mixture as thick as you like. You might not use the whole amount of liquid.


Tips & tricks for making this recipe:

  • Pan: use soft butter (NOT melted) to patiently cover the whole pan, every nook and cranny, every sharp angle, every single bit of space available. I use a brush or my fingers. I then flour the pan and REFRIGERATE IT while putting together the batter. I take it out at the last moment when I need to fill it and it goes like that into the oven. Or use a baking spray with flour in it.
  • Poppy seeds: don't overdo it with the amount of seeds. You can use less of course (2 tablespoons) and have a cake that is more like this Vanilla Poppy Seed Bundt Cake.
  • Syrup: make sure you add the cold syrup to the hot cake as it comes out of the oven. It adds a great moisture and flavor.
  • Keeping: this cake keeps very well at room t° for a few days, well wrapped, and freezes wonderfully for a month (I recommend doing it before the glaze). Defrost at room t° before glazing.
  • Flavorings: you can use a mix of citrus zest and juice. I recommend using at least one that is strong, such as lemon, lime or grapefruit. If you use only orange for example, the cake will be too sweet. Your choice.

Keywords: lemon bundt cake, lemon poppy seed cake, lemon poppy seed bundt cake