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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 1x
  • 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

Scale

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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hello! Does this cake freeze well? I’m hoping to bake this a week ahead, freeze and then frost on the day of serving. Also, I’d love a thicker frosting … could I drizzle a cream cheese frosting over the top instead?

    1. Hi Sarah, see recipe notes for freezing instructions. You can definitely drizzle with a cream cheese frosting if you prefer!

  2. Can you leave the poppyseeds out – for those of us who can’t have the seeds?

  3. Hi! Can you recommend a time and temp for using this recipe to make cupcakes? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kathy, fill the baking cups halfway and bake at 350. We’re unsure of the exact baking time. This recipe will make a ton of cupcakes, and they will be more dense in texture than a typical cupcake. Here’s our lemon cupcakes recipe as well!

  4. Completely wonderful! I made this yesterday. It’s practically perfect in terms of flavor balance (round, rich/tart/sweet); but even better is the texture throughout – moist, springy, seed-flecked, with delicately crusty bottom edges.

    Initially, I was thinking it was a mistake to make so big a cake for the relatively small occasion I had in mind. However, it disappeared and only two slivers were left this morning (equally good, now, let me tell you)!

    Having made quite a number of Sally’s recipes, this may be my favorite to date.

    1. Hi Julie, we are so glad you loved this recipe and may have found a new favorite! Thank you for trying it!

  5. The recipe is great but it took me about two hours to bake the whole thing. The toothpick comes out clean after 50 minutes of baking but the dough is still heavy and of grey colour at the bottom.

    1. Hi Tatiana! How’s the texture? If it’s overly dense, make sure your baking powder and soda are fresh. We find they lose strength after just 3-4 months. Use proper room temperature butter and other room temperature ingredients and be careful not to over-mix the batter (which can lead to dense baked goods). Hope these tips help for next time!

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