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Bright and buttery lemon poppy seed cake with Meyer lemons is the perfect cake for lemon lovers! Each slice is incredibly tender and buttery with a moist crumb since this cake is made with butter, Greek yogurt, and buttermilk. Delicious for breakfast, afternoon tea, or any time that needs a burst of sunshine, you’ll love this easy loaf cake recipe.

Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
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Lemon poppy seed loaf is one of my favorite ways to bake with fresh lemons. Simple and delicious, each bite is moist and delicate, with a beautifully light texture.

The cake is perfectly lemony thanks to a triple hit of citrus, no lemon extract required. Lemon-sugar infuses the cake with natural lemon flavor, and once baked, a brush of lemon syrup soaks into the warm cake, adding moisture. A drizzle of sweet lemon glaze makes the perfect finish!

Love baking with lemons? Try my bakery style lemon poppy seed muffins next!

Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Essential Ingredients

  • Flour – Use all-purpose flour in this recipe.
  • Baking powder and baking soda – Gives this loaf cake a lift. Both are necessary since the cake uses buttermilk.
  • Salt – Enhances the flavor.
  • Poppy seeds – A must for lemon poppy seed cake! 🙂
  • Sugar – Granulated sugar sweetens the cake and you’ll also use granulated sugar in the lemon syrup.
  • Fresh lemons – Fresh lemon zest and juice are essential to this recipe. Lemon zest flavors the cake and glaze, and fresh lemon juice plus sugar makes a quick lemon syrup to brush over the cake. You’ll need 3 to 4 medium sized lemons.
  • Butter – Use room temperature unsalted butter in the cake and 1 tablespoon melted butter in the glaze.
  • Eggs – You’ll need 2 large eggs, at room temperature.
  • Vanilla – Pure vanilla extract brings out the lemon flavor.
  • Buttermilk – The acidity helps activate the baking soda, which makes the cake fluffy and light. Bring to room temperature before baking.
  • Greek yogurt – The creaminess of Greek yogurt helps keep the cake moist.
  • Powdered sugar – For a smooth and delicious lemon glaze.
Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Loaf Cake Success Tips

  • Prepare the baking pan. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray (a light-colored pan is ideal for even baking). Line the pan with a sheet of parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan. The parchment overhang will help you easily remove the baked cake from the pan.
  • Use fresh lemons. Sweet and juicy Meyer lemons make this easy loaf cake shine! If you can’t find Meyer lemons, you can also use regular lemons (the lemon flavor will be slightly tangier with regular lemons).
  • Use room temperature ingredients. Bring butter, eggs, buttermilk, and Greek yogurt to room temperature before beginning. Room temperature ingredients incorporate more easily and create a smooth cake batter.

How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Mix dry ingredients: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds until combined.

Make lemon sugar: Combine lemon zest and granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse for 1 minute to combine.

Make cake: Beat room temperature butter and lemon-sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed with a spatula.

With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture (begin and end with flour mixture).

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Tap pan sharply several times to reduce air bubbles.

Bake cake for 52 to 56 minutes, until golden and a tester emerges with a few moist crumbs. Remove cake from the oven and immediately brush the top with lemon syrup. Let cake cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve topped with lemon glaze.

Baked lemon poppy seed cake brushed with lemon syrup

How to Make Mini Loaf Cakes

For mini lemon poppy seed loaf cakes, divide the batter between three mini (5 3/4″ x 3 1/4″) loaf pans. Bake the mini loaves on a preheated baking sheet for about 30 minutes, or until cakes spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.

Tips to Freeze

Let loaf cake cool completely on a wire rack. Once fully cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and then wrap again in foil or place the wrapped cake in a freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months.

The day before you plan to serve, let the cake thaw overnight in the refrigerator (still wrapped to prevent condensation), then bring to room temperature. Glaze just before serving.

You can also freeze leftover slices of cake.  Wrap each slice tightly in plastic wrap and pop into a freezer bag for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, or on a wire rack at room temperature.

Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

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Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Sunny Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 11 reviews
  • Author: Laura Kasavan
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 52 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 17 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf, 12 slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American
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Description

Bright and buttery lemon poppy seed cake with Meyer lemons is the perfect cake for lemon lovers! Each slice is incredibly tender and buttery with a moist crumb. Recipe makes 1 loaf and freezes well.


Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (3 g) salt
  • 2 Tbsp (18 g) poppy seeds
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp (6 g) fresh Meyer lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs (100 g), at room temperature
  • 1 tsp (4 g) vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (180 g) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) Greek yogurt, at room temperature

Lemon Syrup

  • 2 Tbsp (30 g) fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp (25 g) granulated sugar

Glaze

  • 1 Tbsp (14 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp fresh Meyer lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (22 g) fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 cup (120 g) powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray. Line the loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. Make cake: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds in a medium bowl.
  3. Place sugar and Meyer lemon zest in a food processor and pulse for 1 minute. Beat butter and Meyer lemon-sugar in a large mixer bowl at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla on low speed. Combine buttermilk and Greek yogurt in a small bowl. Beat in dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture (begin and end with flour mixture), just until incorporated.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top with an offset spatula and tap sharply to reduce air bubbles.
  5. Bake loaf cake for 52 to 56 minutes, until cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.
  6. Make lemon syrup: In the last five minutes of baking, combine Meyer lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and syrup thickens, about 4 minutes. Remove cake from the oven and immediately brush the top with lemon syrup. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; carefully remove cake from pan and cool completely.
  7. Make glaze: Whisk together melted butter, salt, Meyer lemon zest, juice, and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Drizzle glaze over cake and let set before serving.
  8. Store leftover cake at room temperature overnight (tightly covered) or in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Notes

Lemons: I made this cake with Meyer lemons. A cross between regular lemons and mandarin oranges, the zest and juice is sweet and aromatic. If you can’t find Meyer lemons, you can also use regular lemons. Regular lemons will add a slightly more tangy, zesty flavor to the cake and glaze.

Mini loaf cakes: Divide the batter evenly between three mini (5 3/4″ x 3 1/4″) loaf pans. Bake the mini loaves on a preheated baking sheet for about 30 minutes, or until cakes spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.

Make ahead: This loaf cake can be made one day in advance. Let cool completely and store at room temperature overnight. Add the lemon glaze just before serving.

Freezing instructions: Once fully cool, wrap loaf cake in plastic wrap and a freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months. The day before serving, move the cake to the refrigerator (still wrapped to prevent condensation) and defrost overnight. Bring to room temperature, remove plastic wrap, and add glaze.

Meet Laura

Hi, I'm Laura and I'm so happy you're here! Welcome to Tutti Dolci Baking Recipes, a baking blog celebrating all things sweet! I share approachable baking recipes and elevated classic desserts for every home baker. My goal is to inspire you to bake from scratch with kitchen-tested recipes you can count on.

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23 Comments

  1. I baked this cake twice over the weekend and it’s absolutely perfect – fluffy, moist, and filled with lemon flavor. The glaze is incredible too!






  2. This cake is amazing! I just made for my husband’s 94 year old mom, and she devoured it! This will become a family favorite! Thank you for sharing!






  3. We love lemon desserts and this cake is perfect. Fluffy and buttery with a nice lemon flavor, and the glaze is a new favorite! Looking forward to trying mini loaves next time.






  4. In this recipe, when you say a cup of flour or cup of sugar, how much is that in grams please? Also, the flour, is that plain or self raising please?

    1. Hi Alex! Flour is plain, all-purpose flour. 1 cup flour = 140 grams. Sugar is granulated sugar. 1 cup sugar = 200 grams. Happy baking! 🙂

  5. Hi Laura, I just found your blog thru Instagram. I was looking through your recipes and had a ton of lemons I just picked from my sister’s tree. I was sooo happy to see this recipe and made it this afternoon. My husband LOVED the lemonyness (Is that a word?) of it. He went back for a second slice. Can’t wait to see what else you have on here that I can try.






    1. Hi Kim, thanks so much! Glad you found me and that you tried this cake – just perfect for a Sunday afternoon :). I have two Meyer lemon trees, so you’ll see many Meyer lemon recipes in the archives. Have a great rest of your day!