Sweet, simple, luscious glazed lemon poppy seed bundt cake to bring sunshine to even the coldest of days.
It was 5°F over the weekend with a “real feel” of -8°F and 50mph winds. So I made the most cheerful dessert on the planet.
Sunshine in a bundt pan.
Roadtrips, best friends.
Windows down, music blaring.
Warm days. A girl can dream.
After apple pie, lemon desserts of any kind are my favorite. Not peanut butter and (gasp!!!!) not sprinkle-y things. Who am I? Don’t worry, they’re both a close third. Truthfully, my tastebuds belong to all things fruity. This lemon bundt cake’s flavor is divine. The lemon is so lemon-y, but not at all sour and eye-squinty. I made up way to many words in this paragraph.
What I’m trying to say is that the lemon flavor is spot-on. 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?!
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 last week, cake flour produces a sensationally soft cake. That’s why it’s called cake flour. It’s for cakes! Rocket science. 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. Funny story. I ran out of it when I began making this cake! Duh. A good reminder to, um, measure out all your ingredients before beginning a recipe. So I used all-purpose flour with some cornstarch (this is a quick “DIY” cake flour). I tested the recipe again with cake flour this week– also tasty. I’ll include a note about all-purpose/cake flour in the written recipe.
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.
A light glaze made from confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice finishes things off.
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.Print
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.
- 2 and 3/4 cups (343g) all-purpose flour* (spoon & leveled)
- 1/4 cup (30g) cornstarch*
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup poppy seeds
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- zest of 4 large lemons (about 1/3 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)
- 1 cup (120g) sifted confectioners’ sugar
- juice of 1/2 large lemon (or 1 medium – 2 Tablespoons)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Make the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Drizzle over cake. Slice and serve.
- 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.
- Flour: 3 cups sifted cake flour work here instead of using the mix of all-purpose flour and cornstarch.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Room temperature ingredients mix together more easily, evenly, and ensure a uniform texture in the cake.
- Here is the bundt pan I own and love. Heavy-duty, long-lasting, love the grip handles!
- Adapted from Make it Ahead by Ina Garten.
Keywords: lemon poppy seed bundt cake, lemon bundt cake