Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

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

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com-- sweet, simple, bursting with flavor!

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com-- sweet, simple, bursting with flavor!

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?!

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

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. 

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com-- sweet, simple, bursting with flavor!

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

Lick-the-plate-good.

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com-- sweet, simple, bursting with flavor!

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com-- sweet, simple, bursting with flavor!

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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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 (343g) 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

225 Comments

  1. Kristin Salamandyk says:

    This looks delicious and I want to make for Easter morning with coffee. Do you move the cake to a cake plate before glazing? Is that easy enough to do after it’s been “syruped”?

    1. Hi Kristin! Yes, transfer to your serving plate when you add the icing/glaze.

  2. Very refreshing summer treat. I halved the recipe for a 9×5 loaf pan and used 150g cake flour. The cake finished baking at exactly 40 minutes, but I added 3 minutes just for a bit of color on top. I poked holes into the loaf before pouring the syrup on top. Instead of lemon juice, I dissolved the powdered sugar in milk. I found the glaze a bit too runny (I like a thicker glaze), so I doubled the powdered sugar and just added a bit more milk. The cake’s texture was both soft and moist, and lemon lovers will be very happy with the flavor. Will definitely make it again.

  3. I make this cake every summer, minus the poppyseeds! its always a hit.
    this year, i forgot the buttermilk… ooops. (i just read your Chocolate Tuxedo cake story and felt better after hearing you once forgot to put the sugar in!). We didnt even notice buttermilk was missing, it was beautiful coming out of the oven and very fragrant! However, it fell into 6 pieces when i took it out of the bundt pan. Insert Sallys lemon buttercream frosting – YUM. I whipped that up quickly and made lemon cake balls. they were a HIT. thank you Sally for such a great volume of recipes that are so flexible.

  4. This is the most delicious lemon cake EVER. It makes a beautiful bundt and the syrup and glaze ands so much lemon flavor. This is a huge hit! You’ve got to try this.

  5. Hi Sally, I have a question about the amount of cake flour. In the original recipe you measure the AP flour and cornstarch and THEN sift, but the note for cake flour says to sift first. I followed your Measuring 101 guideline of using 100g per cup of sifted cake flour and the cake was delicious, but a bit dense. Given that the original recipe calls for 343g AP flour plus 30g cornstarch, do you think it would be better to add more cake flour? Like at least 345g, which is the weight of unsifted cake flour? Just wondering about the difference between sifting AP flour and cornstarch AFTER measuring vs sifting cake flour BEFORE measuring it. Thanks for your insight and a great recipe, as always!!

    1. That wording is certainly confusing, isn’t it? Sorry about that Katie. The recipe should instruct to sift the cake flour after measuring. I will go ahead and adjust that. Thank you so much!

  6. Can I use normal milk 3.5 percent fat or 1.5 percent?

  7. Martha Cárdenas says:

    Excellent recipe, thank you Sally

  8. I cook as a hobby, but don’t have much experience with baking. Therefore, I followed the recipe exactly. The final product tasted wonderful, but it stuck to the bundt pan, even though I buttered it quite liberally. Should I also have floured it after greasing the pan?
    Looked like a mess, but tasted great.

    1. Hi George, I’m glad you enjoyed the taste of the cake! The bundt pan I link to in the first step of the instructions I have never had a problem with. But to help you with the pan you already own this is a great article: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2017/01/22/prevent-bundt-cakes-sticking

  9. 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 🙂

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

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

      1. Oh, I completely forgot about this article! Thanks a lot! You always have the all answers and you’re website is a life saver! Keep up the great work!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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!

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

    1. Sure can! An even swap.

  16. 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 ❤️

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

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

    Everyone loved it.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. trish mancuso says:

    Should the poppy seeds be soaked in the milk before mixing in with the cake.

    Thanks
    Trish

  21. 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

    1. This is incredible, Laura! Thank you so much for sharing.

  22. 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!

    1. Forgot to add that for the size lemons I used, it took the juice of 3 to get to just shy of 1/2 cup of juice, so mine must’ve been on the smaller side.

  23. Looking forward to trying this recipe! Lemon cake is my absolute favorite and so far the few things I’ve tried from you Sally have been spot on in flavor and easy to follow. Thanks.

  24. Janel Hassell says:

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

  25. 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

  26. 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.

  27. do you think i could double the poppy seeds so that i use 1/2 cup. i do love them!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      That should be fine, Monica. Enjoy!

  28. 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!

  29. 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.

  30. 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 🙂

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