Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

Sweet, simple, luscious glazed lemon poppy seed Bundt cake to bring sunshine to even the coldest of days.

overhead image of lemon poppy seed bundt cake cut into slices on a yellow plate

lemon poppy seed bundt cake in a bundt pan

When it comes to lemon desserts, what I run into often is finding the right balance between tart and sweet. And too much flavor vs. no flavor at all. But this lemon Bundt cake nails it. Lemon is worked into every single component:

  • Lemon poppy seed cake
  • Lemon simple syrup
  • Lemon glaze

Even when used in each layer, the lemon flavor doesn’t taste overwhelming. The cake itself is balanced out with sweet vanilla and rich buttery flavors. The simple syrup seeps into the cake creating that mouthwatering moist texture. And the lemon glaze on top? Well that’s just a given. What’s cake without some frosting?!

halved lemons

For the softest, most cakey texture (read: the best texture!)– I like to use creamed butter and cake flour in the batter. Creamed butter and sugar provide a deliciously cakey base for the recipe. And as you might remember from my red velvet cake, cake flour produces a sensationally soft cake. I don’t use it all the time for my cakes and cupcakes, but for Bundt cakes that are usually a little heavier, it’s just perfect. I actually ran out of it when I began making this cake. (A good reminder to  measure out all your ingredients before beginning a recipe.) So I used all-purpose flour with some cornstarch (this is a quick “DIY” homemade cake flour).

Bundt cakes have the tendency to be a little dry, so let’s use a few eggs for tenderness and buttermilk for a moist texture. Some poppy seeds add a sprinkle of light crunch and let’s use lots of fresh lemon zest and juice for flavor.

The simple syrup, which goes onto the cake as it cools, is crucial. I’ve been toying around with using simple syrups on cakes for the past few months. A drizzle of homemade lemon syrup over this cake puts it over the top. It gives the edges, which can dry out quickly, moisture and flavor. In fact, I ate the syrup-soaked edges of the cake before even making it to the center of the cake. They’re the BEST part.

So, the simple “soaking” syrup. It’s imperative. 

2 images of lemon simple syrup in a glass measuring cup and overhead image of lemon poppy seed bundt cake on a white serving plate

A light glaze made from confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice finishes things off.

Lick-the-plate-good.

slice of lemon poppy seed bundt cake on a white plate with a fork

overhead image of slices of lemon poppy seed bundt cake on white plates with forks

This blissful sunshine cake, everyone, is the epitome of lemon desserts. And the perfect cure for those cold winter blues. Kevin doesn’t even like lemon and he raved about this cake. The man also never raves about anything besides motorcycles and bikes, so that should be enough to convince you.

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overhead image of lemon poppy seed bundt cake cut into slices on a yellow plate

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: serves 10
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This lemon poppy seed Bundt cake is full of fresh lemon flavor! Don’t skip the simple syrup; it’s the best part. Bundt cakes are usually a little heavier, so don’t expect a super light texture. Soft and cakey, most definitely. Avoid overbaking, which can dry out your cake. Read the recipe in full before beginning. You will need 4 and 1/2 large lemons total.


Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 and 3/4 cups (344g) all-purpose flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 cup (30g) cornstarch*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • zest of 3 large lemons (about 1/4 cup, packed)
  • juice of 2 large lemons (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, room temperature

Lemon Simple “Soaking” Syrup

  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • juice of 2 large lemons (about 1/2 cup)

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup (120g) sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon (or 1 medium – 2 Tablespoons)

Instructions

  1. Lower the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray the inside of a 10 inch Bundt pan with nonstick spray or grease thoroughly with butter. Set aside.
  2. Make the cake: Sift the flour and cornstarch together into a large bowl. Whisk in the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and poppy seeds. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the lemon zest and lemon juice. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. The batter will be slightly thick.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter evenly into the Bundt pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cover the cake loosely with aluminum foil if you begin to see the top browning quickly. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes inside the pan.
  5. During this time, make the simple syrup. Combine the granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Invert the slightly cooled Bundt cake onto a wire rack set over a large plate or serving dish. Spoon the syrup on top of the cake. Allow cake to cool, then place on serving plate before topping with icing/glaze. (Next step.)
  7. Make the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Drizzle over cake. Slice and serve.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cake and syrup through step 6. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 2 months. The flavor will be amazing after this time! Bring to room temperature and continue with step 7.
  2. Flour: 3 cups cake flour work here instead of using the mix of all-purpose flour and cornstarch.
  3. Room Temperature Ingredients: Room temperature ingredients mix together more easily, evenly, and ensure a uniform texture in the cake.
  4. Buttermilk: Buttermilk helps produce a supremely moist cake. If you don’t have buttermilk, use whole milk instead. You can use lower fat or nondairy milks in a pinch, but the cake won’t taste nearly as rich and moist.
  5. Here is the Bundt pan I own and love. Heavy-duty, long-lasting, love the grip handles!
  6. Adapted from Make it Ahead by Ina Garten.

Keywords: lemon poppy seed bundt cake, lemon bundt cake

82 Comments

  1. Hi Sally, greetings from Malaysia. Ive been following your blog and tried some of your recipes. Me and my family love them all.

    I wanted to try this lemon poppy seed bundt cake recipe for a birthday party next week. So I want to know if I can turn this bundt cake recipe to a 3 layer cake recipe. Is it possible?

    I wanted a moist lemon cake that is packed with flavor. Since you wrote that this cake is packed with lemon flavor, I wanted to give it a try. But I dont want it to be too sweet.

    Maybe I could use the lemon syrup to ‘soak’ the cake layers to make them moist before I fill it with lemon cream cheese between the layers.
    Do you think the cake will be ‘too heavy’ with the cream cheese filling?

    I might be using lemon italian meringue buttercream as the frosting.

    Or do U have any other recipe suggestions?

    1. Hi Siti, If you are looking for a moist layer cake packed with lemon flavor I suggest that you use my Lemon Layer Cake recipe. Enjoy 🙂

  2. Hey Sally, please give adjustments for different size pans. Thanks

    1. Hi Maira, my Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions page will help!

  3. Sharon Knisley says:

    I used bottles lemon juice and lemon pudding instead of vanilla. I also cut dow on the cornstarch. It was perfect lemon flavor.

  4. Hey Sally do you think I could half this recipe and make it in a loaf pan?

    1. Definitely! I’m unsure of the exact bake time. You can also try my lemon pound cake.

  5. Helen Morgan says:

    Hi Sally.. I’ve made this cake and it was incredible! The best lemony flavour and so moist. I now have a 2kg greek yoghurt in the fridge and I’m looking at ways of using it. Can I use yoghurt instead of buttermilk?

  6. Olga Vinogradova says:

    Made this today and it was fantastic! Moist, flavorful, but not too sweet. Nice, strong lemon flavor. Followed the recipe exactly and it turned out great. It did take me almost 60 minutes to have it be fully baked, but my oven does tend to take a bit on the longer side for many recipes. Will definitely make again!

  7. Hey Sally!
    Can we use limes instead of lemons ?

    1. Sure can! An even swap.

  8. Lynn Waycuilis says:

    This is delicious but mine stuck to pan too. But who cares it’s wonderful and the simple syrup delish really kicks it up. Thanks will make again ❤️

  9. I made this yesterday. It was DELISH!!!!!!

    I only used 1 cup instead of 2. It was perfect!

    Everyone loved it.

  10. The best lemon cake! So moist and full of lemon flavor. Zesting the lemons and using fresh juice was worth the extra effort! I baked it yesterday and it is almost gone!

  11. Genevieve Morehouse says:

    Sally, I made this recipe today. The directions were easy to follow. I don’t have a bundt cake pan so I used a 10 inch springform pan. It tastes great, but the syrup made the cake soggy. I just put it on the top of the cake. I guess, next time I will leave it off? I am hesitant to do that because I love the flavor with the lemon syrup. I am currently in Saudi Arabia where we are on an extreme lockdown and cannot go buy a pan. Any suggestions? Should I leave off the syrup next time?

    1. Hi Genevieve, Next time trying cutting the syrup in half. That should still give you the flavor boost without making the cake soggy.

  12. Laura Howell says:

    Sally,
    My daughter and I made this bundt cake for a fundraiser auction – along with your min-cheesecakes (which are a regular in our home!) – and I have to say it was a hit. The kitchen was so fragrant and lemon is perfect for the beginning of summer. (so much we had to make a 2nd to enjoy ourselves!) Our goodies earned $150 donations in total – allowing the Central TX Food Bank to deliver 600 meals to families in need! Together (virtually) – 16 of us made 22 bakes and raised of $5K, which was then doubled by Siete Family foods – so we ended up donating $10,678 today – offering 24,712 meals!!!! thank you for your wonderful recipes. https://www.bakingforgood.org/home

  13. Yum, yum again!! Made this today, so easy. Mine stuck just a teeny bit to the butter tin, but the whole cake had such a yummy browned edge I didn’t care! I used the simple syrup to glue that bit back on and you couldn’t even tell! This has the tang of a lemon square, really really good!

  14. Janel Hassell says:

    This was excellent. I left out the poppy seeds but still great. Thank you.

  15. Ann Vandielen says:

    I just made this to take to work tomorrow. It came out perfectly and the crumbs taste delicious! I didn’t have buttermilk or any milk at all with which to make it, so I substituted some greek honey yogurt. Full-on poppyseeds! – Anya

  16. Absolutely LOVE this recipe! I make it whenever I visit my in-laws and it’s a crowd favorite.

    Do you think it would be possible to add lemon curd to the cake? I have some in the cupboard and can’t figure out what to do with it.

  17. Hi Sally
    I love the sound of this cake and would love to make it for morning tea for fellow colleagues however one of them is glucose intolerant. Can I substitute glucose free flour in this recipe?
    Suzanne

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Suzanne, We haven’t tested this cake that way but let us know if you try!

  18. Made with 1/2 batch soaking syrup and no glaze. Cut sugar in cake to 1 cup plus 1/3 and it was amazing, very lemony and sweet enough for our family’s taste. Great recipe as always Sally! I’ll be making another next week for a social distance birthday lunch with my sister in law. I’m sure it’ll be a hit.

  19. Hi,
    Wanted to make a bundt cake so tried this recipe even though it was for a person who doesn’t like lemon. Skipped the lemon. It was absolutely delicious. Now wondering if i want to make it again, what other flavour can I use besides lemon? Any suggestions? Thank you.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sophie, We are glad the cake was a hit! We have so many Bundt cakes to choose from that are not lemon: peach, pumpkin, apple, chocolate. And many more – you can use the search bar at the top of this screen to find more 🙂

  20. Katherine Dennis says:

    Wow. Tried this recipe last night and it delivered and more. I used my new Nordicware castle bundt cake pan. Buttered and floured. Came out perfect. Wish I could post the picture. 🙂

    Better half loves lemon so this will be our new go to lemon cake. Granddaughters are going to love helping decorate and eat this every time. Thank you.

  21. Jennifer Atiyeh says:

    Hi Sally,

    I adore your recipes and am eager to try this one! I was curious if I could add a lemon curd to the middle of the cake? Also, do you think a mascarpone frosting would accompany the lemon flavor well?
    Thanks so much!
    Jen

    1. Hi Jen, that sounds wonderful but it would be a very sweet cake with a filling and frosting. I don’t recommend baking the cake with lemon curd in the center– it wouldn’t bake properly underneath all this cake batter. I would skip the curd and just stick with the frosting.

  22. Love this recipe! It was a big hit with the whole family. One question, should this cake be refrigerated or can it be left for out?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Harmeet! We’re so glad you loved this recipe. Cover and store leftover cake at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

  23. Wow, I’ve used a few of your recipes but this one is, hands down, the best of the best. It is probably one of the best cakes I’ve ever baked, thank you so much!

  24. Hello! I’m hoping to try out this recipe and I have a question about making modifications to the lemon glaze/sugar content. I sincerely apologize if the answer might be self-explanatory. I’m very new to baking! I wish to keep the amount of sugar for the whole piece the same, but I was wondering how I could make the lemon glaze thicker without adding too much more sugar? Would taking 1/4 cup of granulated sugar away from the cake batter and adding 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar to the glaze thicken it without hindering the taste of the cake itself? Thanks so much.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nisha, sugar plays a larger role beyond taste in recipes, and is important for structure and texture, too. Reducing the sugar can compromise these, but you are welcome to try it. To thicken the glaze, you can either try adding more confectioners’ sugar OR using a bit less lemon juice. Hope this is helpful!

  25. Suhaas Jindal says:

    Hi Sally,

    I find that this cake n others in general, which are baked with butter become hard when frosted and kept in the fridge for a couple of hours. I live in a very hot and humid climate 9-10 months in a year, so have to keep frosted cakes in the fridge before cutting.
    Hence, I want to know if I can substitute butter with oil in this recipe, or if there is something else that I can do to retain the softness of the cake.

    Thanks in advance!

  26. Hi Sally: The recipe says all purpose flour, but when I was reading your comments earlier in the recipe it indicates that you use cake four. Is this a type-o?

    Thanks in advance for your help,

    Lynn

  27. Can I use blueberry fresh ones instead of poppy seeds

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ruby, we can’t see why not! Or you might enjoy this Lemon Berry Yogurt Bundt Cake instead.

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