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Lemon Poppy-Seed Cake

Maybe it's the fact that we are celebrating a lot of Birthdays in the summer or maybe it's the sugar-meringue frosting, but this cake spells Birthday Cake to me. This is my version of a combination of several recipes.

Lemon Curd Filling: (prepare ahead)
  •  cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cups water
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup butter

  1. In a small pot, mix sugar, lemon peel, cornstarch, water and egg yolks well.
  2. Stir in lemon juice and bring to boil, stirring, but just before it boils, pour through fine sieve into a glass bowl.
  3. Return egg mixture to pot and boil gently for several minutes, stirring.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in butter, one tablespoon at a time.
  5. Cover surface with cling wrap and refrigerate until firm.
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon peel
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 8 inch round baking pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and lemon peel with hand held mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating each in well and scraping the sides of bowl with spatula.
  4. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  5. Combine lemon juice and buttermilk in one cup.
  6. Alternately, add dry and wet ingredients to egg mixture, stirring well with wooden spoon.
  7. Divide cake batter evenly in pans. Bake 30-35 minutes, until cake tests done.
  8. Cool 10 minutes in pans, then remove from pans and cool on wire rack.
  9. Cut each cake in half horizontally to create four layers.
  10. Place one cake round on a cake plate. Spread with about 2/3 cup lemon curd. Repeat two times and top with last cake round.
Boiled Sugar-Meringue Frosting and Coconut Sprinkles
Toast approx ½ cup long thread coconut and 1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds in 350° F oven until golden, for about 10 minutes. Stir and set aside to cool.

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  1. In a small glass bowl, beat egg white until almost stiff. Set aside.
  2. In a small stainless steel aluminum pot, bring water and sugar to a boil over slightly less than medium heat and continue to boil for about 3 minutes after it clears, stirring often and checking to make sure sugar does not harden on sides of pot. After 3 - 4 minutes of boiling it should drip off the spoon like thin syrup.
  3. Remove from heat and immediately add to beaten egg white while beating with electric hand mixer.
  4. Continue to beat for several minutes, add 1 Tbsp icing sugar and 1 Tbsp lemon juice and continue to beat until it’s thick and peaks form.
  5. Frost cake promptly, smoothing half of the frosting over the top first and then the rest in sections along the side.
  6. Generously sprinkle cake with coconut/almond mixture.
  7. Cover with cake top and refrigerate until ready to serve.


  1. Now THIS looks like the cream of the crop, the deluxe of the deluxe in the making of a Lemon Poppy Seed cake.

    I was craving it the other day... found a recipe, made it, others loved it... I was like was okay.

    I don't know. I'm going to have make up for my "eh recipe" by sitting here and drooling over this beauty.

    Thank you for sharing...

  2. I'm thinking my hubby, a lover of lemon pie, would love this cake for his birthday! Thanks!!

  3. YUM-MY!!! Can I please have a piece, RIGHT NOW!

  4. Looks just heavenly!! Lemon cake is one of my husbands favorites. Think I might suprise him with this beauty.


  5. My son is always after me to find a lemon cake recipe that tastes like the one his great grandmother used to make for him. So far I've had no luck. But I'm thinking he would like this one just as much. I'm definitely going to make one and try it.

  6. This just looks sooooo good. I thought I could resist until I saw the photo of the slice.

  7. What a yummy looking cake. Another wonderful cake from your kitchen. Kathy

  8. I'm a new wife and a newbie baker! I LOVE your site and I apologize in advance, but this is definitely going to be a comment from a novice!

    Just wondering, when you say 'stirring for several minutes', how long is several?

    Thanks and I'm sorry if the answer is obvious to everyone else!!

  9. Hello Erin ... glad to have novice bakers! Usually when we say "several minutes" in my mind it could be two or three minutes. The time probably does not matter as much as that the meringue feels like it's getting quite thick and it may vary in time.
    The same goes for boiling the sugar.. it depends on what kind of pot and the temperature you cook it at. The important thing is to keep an eye on it and get the knwoledge of what it is supposed to look like. This comes from experience. To be honest, this icing (Italian meringue)could be a bit challenging for a novice cook... but why not try it? If you try it and realize it's not smooth(but sugary or grainy) that means you cooked it too hard or too long... not much lost - try again and adjust your temp or time. All the best!

  10. I made this cake for a friend who loves lemon poppy-seed, as her Birthday present. I doubled it and used 9" round pans. It was spectacular and delicious. Even though she was on a diet, she ate 4 pieces over 2 days. She brought over her neighbour to eat it with her. They of course wanted the recipe and I sent them to your website! Thanks for the recipe! Katie

  11. Hi! I was thinking of making this cake and wondered if you use "Real Lemon" juice or the juice from an actually lemon? Thanks Anneliese! Rhoda

    1. Hi Rhoda, I use fresh lemons, expeciallly since you need the zest anyways.

  12. White seeds are known generally as Indian, Middle Eastern or Asian, as they are more often used in these cuisines. Both blue and white seeds come from the same plant, though the white seeds come from a white flowering cultivar.


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