This lemon poppy seed cake with lemon infused cream cheese frosting is so light and fluffy is practically melts in your mouth! It’s easy to make and a total crowd pleaser!
I know it’s literally taken me over a year to get this cake recipe up on the blog. Heres the thing though- I didn’t want to post it last year because after testing it 4 or 5 times I still wasn’t happy.
And then by the time I knew it, it was practically fall and I wasn’t going to post a bright a summery lemon cake right before pumpkin and cookie season. It just would not be right.
I was also getting really frustrated with not getting the results I wanted which was a fluffy, light, bright lemon flavor. Instead I was getting a dense, heavy cake.
UGH. So I started from scratch with this recipe, and I’m so glad I did!
This cake is SO fluffy, it literally almost melts in your mouth from how light it is. I added poppy seed for that classic combo and decided to pair it with a lemon cream cheese frosting because the more lemon in my book, the better.
What makes this cake so fluffy?
Answer- the combination of eggs and yogurt. The two of them together in a cake recipe is like magic. I learned that from Sally’s Baking Addiction from one of her posts and decided to give it a try in this recipe.
The lemon flavor really comes through too which I was happy about. Sometimes you need to use an extract instead of 100% juice to get a good amount of flavor, but not with this recipe! It uses only fresh lemons and lemon zest, and the flavor is totally there.
How to make this recipe:
To make this cake you use the creaming method- which is just a baking term that tells you in what order you mix the ingredients:
- Cream the butter and sugar
- Add in eggs
- Alternate mixing in the dry and wet ingredients
If you want to learn more about different mixing methods and why they are important you can start by reading this peach muffin post.
Tips on freezing
You can either freeze this cake with or without the cream cheese icing frosting. My preference with cakes are to freeze just the cake and frost right before you need it. But if you really have no time you can frost the cake and freeze it right after.
To freeze- Stick the cake in the freezer right after you ice it, uncovered. Then after 1 hour take it out, wrap it well in plastic wrap and place it back in the freezer.
Make sure it is defrosted before you serve.
How to make this ahead
You can make this cake up to 2 days in advance to keep at room temperature before icing. Or freeze for up to 3 months.
You can also make the cream cheese frosting a couple days in advance but just know that it will harden in the fridge and it needs to soften before you can use it.
If you don’t have time you can whip it in your mixer again to speed up the softening process.
Can I make this recipe into cupcakes?
YES YOU CAN! In fact thats how I tested the recipe this time! This recipe makes about 18-24 cupcakes depending on size and they are ready after 17-18 minutes.
You know how they say good things come to those who wait? Well thats what this cake is for me, because, ok Im just gonna say it, this is in my top 3 favorite cake recipes!
For more cake inspiration:
- Read this cake decorating post to learn more about how to ice cakes and make them look more professional.
- Read here to learn How to Safely Decorate a Cake with Fresh Flowers
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake Recipe
For the cake:
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs large
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup yogurt whole milk
- Zest from 2 lemons
- ¼ cup lemon juice about 2 lemons
- 3 tablespoons poppyseeds
For the cream cheese frosting
- 8 ounce cream cheese 1 package
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 4 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon half n half milk, or cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 minute until the mixture is light and fluffy. Slow down the mixer to low speed and add in the eggs separately one at a time, incorporating them into the mixture before adding the next.
- Combine the dry ingredients together and set aside. Combine the yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium size measuring cup or small bowl.
- Add in ⅓ of the dry ingredients to the mixer, mix on low until combined. Next add in ½ the yogurt mixture and mix until combined. Add in another ⅓ rd of the dry mix, then the remaining yogurt mixture, and then the last 1/3rd of the dry ingredients- mixing in between each addition.
- Mix on medium speed for 1 minute, then reduce to low speed adding in the poppy seeds.
- Spray 3, 8” cake pans with baking spray or line them with parchement paper and evenly distribute the cake batter into each one.
- Bake for 25- 30 mins until the edges of the cake separate from the cake pan, the tops are golden brown, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before frosting.
For the cream cheese frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until evenly combined. Add in the lemon zest and confectioners sugar and mix on low speed so the mixture doesnt blow up in your face.
- Add in lemon juice and milk and mix again until combined and super fluffy.
- If you want the frosting to be thicker, add in more confectioners sugar starting with ⅓ cup. If you want the frosting to be thinner add in 1 teaspoon at a time either lemon juice or milk, its up to you!
Lauren Grant | Zestful Kitchen says
FAN FREAKING TASTIC! This cake was so so good! Unfortunately I only had two 9-inch round cake pans, but it was no problem because the cakes came out wonderfully. I baked the cakes 35-37 minutes and they were perfection. Stunning flavor and easy to make!
Im so happy you guys loved it! Thank you so much for making it!!!!
Jess Froe says
Is it possible to make this into a snack cake using a 9 x 13 pan? Or is the amount of batter awkward for that size? Thanks!
You can totally make this into a 9×13! The bake time will be around 25-28 mins!
Any chance that anyone tried this with gluten free flour ? I’m stuck with that alternative, but this sounds so yummy, and I adore lemon poppyseed anything! Thank you!
Hi Alene! I havent tried it with Gluten Free flour but I would try it with one that is a 1:1 substitute!
Irena Rajnpreht says
This cake is AMAZING! That’s it, no other comments needed 🙂
I made it this weekend for my daughter’s birthday and it won so many lovely comments. Perfect summer cake, citrusy and sweet, with a bit of crunch from the poppy seeds, and the cake itself is soft and fluffy, but rich with flavour at the same time.
Amazing recipe that I will add to my favorites list and keep making for sure.
It would be interesting to try it with other citruses as well, like grapefruit or lime. Did anyone try that?
Sam Adler says
Thank you SO much Irena!!! I am so honored that you chose this cake for your daughters birthday! Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and leave such a nice comment and rating. Appreciate you so much!!!