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

222 Comments

  1. Hi Sally,

    This gorgeous cake is featured today in my new roundup “10 Cakes That Could Win A Beauty Contest”. What a work of art!

    Sinea from Ducks n a Row

  2. Hey Sally! I’m making a wedding cake and wanted to use this recipe. Can I use a regular 9″ pan?

    1. Also, would I need to double the recipe?

      1. NO need to double the recipe unless you are making a very large cake. This recipe will fit nicely into two 9×2 cake pans.

  3. I’m planning on using this recipe to make a rather large wedding cake. I made it in a bundt pan not too long ago and loved it! Would you suggest still soaking it if I am freezing it now and thawing it in about a month for the wedding? Will it change the density of the cake if I don’t soak it?

    1. The density of the cake won’t change. I suggest soaking it after thawing it in a month.

      1. But in the recipe directions you say to pour the syrup over the cake BEFORE freezing it, not after?  Wouldn’t the cake need to be warm for  the syrup to absorb properly, like fresh out of the oven?  

      2. Hey Angie! It can go either way. Ideally, warm and fresh yes.

  4. Hi Sally. I think this is the most DELICIOUS cake I have ever made! The lemon flavors came together beautifully. I was so pleased that when I took my cake out of the oven, it looked just like the cake in your picture! Your step by step instructions were very clear, I really appreciate that. The only substitution I made was chia seeds rather than poppy. The batter was enough for a good sized bundt cake as well as 7 muffins. Thank you for posting this wonderful recipe!.

    1. Thank you so much for reporting back Tami!

    2. I’m curious about the substituted Chia seeds…did they not alter the moistness of the cake or “gel” as they tend to do when mixed with liquids? Did they clump in the batter? I’d love to try but worry about any of these things happening. ..

      Thanks in advance for your feedback!

      1. I guess this is a little too late to reply to this comment, but hopefully it will help other people who see it.
        I saw your comment earlier before i made this cake, and i didn’t have any poppy seeds any way, so decided to risk it with chia seeds.
        the cake’s moisture was perfect and the chia seeds did not clump in the batter. i used the 1/4 called for in the recipe, and the chia seeds did not ‘gel’ up too obviously and were even slightly crunchy.
        So, yes, based on what i tried, chia seeds work perfectly for a sub in the batter
        i hope this helps!

  5. Just made this cake and it did come out beautifully. Sadly, the 10 minute waiting time for cooling was not enough to prevent the cake from falling apart when turning it onto the grate (in preparation for the pouring of the simple syrup). So although the cake tastes great, it is not perfectly in tact. I will definitely make this recipe again…I will just wait much longer than the recommended 10 minutes for cooling. Thanks again for sharing all of your amazing recipes!

  6. The first thing I would make would be a big double batch of your Snickerdoodles !! I live in New Zealand and no one here has had snickerdoodles before. I love introducing people to them! They always love them and beg me for the recipe!! My favourite cookie for sure and one batch never lasts long enough 😉

    1. oops posted on the wrong page hahaha too many tabs open ! 😛

  7. Hi Sally!

    This cake is absolutely fantastic! I made it today for my mom’s birthday and it turned out to be the best lemon cake I have ever had. My mother is a lemon dessert fan and loved it. My father explicitly said I should give a  five stars review to your recipe, and I totally agree with him. I can’t wait to try other recipes on your blog!

    1. Thanks Isabelle!

  8. HI- quick question..do I use 300g of cake flour to sub?  It says 3 cups, but my 300 g conversion doesn’t seem enough…thanks!

    1. 1 cup of sifted cake flour is about 100g. So yes, 300g.

      1. Thanks! I made it this afternoon. Its amazing! So lemony and light! 

  9. Ive made the glazed lemon poppy seed cake twice, once without vanilla as a friend who requested a lemon cake for her bday is allergic to sallicyites, and one with. The one without vanilla i added extra lemon zest and fresh lemon juice of one lemon.  The first was very lemony!! Very delicous and turned out perfect.  The second wasn’t  as lemony (i may add more juice and zest along with normal amt of vanilla next time) but was still very delicous and turnred out perfect. Both were gone within minutes with excellent reviews!!ive never had a bundt cake turn out perfect like this!!!Thank you!!

  10. what a hit! A bit of a process for me because I hate zesting but I do LOVE the taste. I just bought a bundt cake pan and this was the first thing I made on it. So delicious, very tasty. 

  11. Have you ever tried putting blueberries in this?  I love your three layer Lemon Blueberry Cake; however, my upstairs oven died and I am afraid of making all three layers in the 1958 Westinghouse downstairs (afraid that they will be dry from overbaking and not switching the pans around evenly).

    Do you think this recipe could be blueberried or just try the other recipe in a Bundt pan?

    HELP!

    Thanks so much for all your yummy recipes!  🙂

    1. Absolutely! I’d add about a cup– maybe 1.5 cups if you think it needs more as you stir them in.

  12. What a wonderfully delicious cake!  I used a serving fork to poke holes in the top of the cake so the soaking sauce might soak more deeply into the cake. I’m not sure it did much good. What’s the most effective way to get the sauce to soak the deepest? Cool cake, warm sauce? Both cool? Both warm? I’ve also thought to use Grand Marnier for part of the soaking next time.  Have you ever used that? THANKS!

    1. Deb– poking holes is a great idea. Warm cake, slightly warm sauce will soak the most. Grand Marnier would be incredible! I haven’t tried it with this cake yet.

  13. Hello. I was wondering if I could make these into muffins? Would anything have to be changed? By the way the cake looks delicious! You’re very talented. I’ve made many of your recipes and they always turn out wonderful!

    1. No changes– just the baking time would be reduced. I’d say around 20 minutes. Thanks April!

  14. You had me at no sprinkle-y and it just got better and better. Beautiful photos and recipes. Can’t wait to bake everything. Thanks.

  15. Would there be any change to the recipe if someone didn’t like poppy seeds and could this recipe be modified into a lemon pound cake??

  16. Hi Sally!! I cant wait to try this recipe out this weekend! It’ll be the first recipe i use on my new bundt pan 🙂 However, poppy seeds are banned in my country (Singapore). Can i omit them? Will they have a noticeable impact on the taste and texture? 

    1. You can leave them out.

  17. Oh and another qns! Do i sift the cake flour before measuring or measure 3 cups of flour and then sift it? Really in a dilemma here!

  18. Could you explain about putting the glaze over the inverted cake on the wire rack?  Is the glaze supposed to run off onto the plate or the excess is supposed to be thrown away?  How is the cooled cake supposed to be moved off the wire rack onto the cake plate?  Thanks!  It smells heavenly!

    1. Yes the syrup is supposed to run off the sides and the plate underneath is to catch the excess. Feel free to pour the excess back on top or discard.

      1. My main question is the issue of the glazed cake being on a wire rack.  Do you pick up the glazed cake and put it on the cake plate?  (That doesn’t make sense to me.) The instructions are confusing.  Thanks for clarifying.

  19. Michele Davidson says:

    Oh my, this looks amazing! My daughter requested a lemon poppyseed cake, I am thinking this one is THE one! 
    Not sure if you’re aware, every time I try to Pin this Pinterest tells me this has been blocked because it may contain spam… 

  20. Beth in England says:

    I’m an American living in the UK and feeling very appreciated by my British friends who enjoy my “bakes.” Need a new recipe for a PTA event this week and I’ve promised squares or bars. I’m sure that there will be enough batter to fit into a 9×13 pan, but I wonder if anyone has any advice on the cooking time? If the bundt takes 40-50 minutes, then perhaps the 13×9 will be 30-35? Thoughts?

  21. Hi Sally, I live in India and cake flour is pretty hard to come by. I was wondering if I could use 300g all purpose flour. Or if I’m using the cornstarch, wanted to check if cornstarch and cornflour are the same thing? I see a lot of corn flour in the stores but no corn starch. 

    1. Use 343g all-purpose flour (as noted in the recipe). Cornflour and cornstarch are pretty much the same, yes.

  22. Do you have any suggestions for adding raspberry to this recipe? I was thinking of attempting either a raspberry glaze or a raspberry soaking syrup to compliment the lemon. I don’t want to do anything too risky, but my husband is a nut for lemon/raspberry flavor combos!

    I am making this for my in-laws’ Easter celebration this weekend, and I look forward to impressing them all!!

    1. You know what I’d do? A raspberry sauce on top (I’ve made this one before without the framboise). Or even adding raspberries to the batter itself.

  23. Would that be in place of the glaze, or in addition to? 

  24. Hi Sally, can I use this recipe to make cupcakes? How many cupcakes would this batter yield? 

    1. You sure can– and I’m not sure exactly how many it will yield. At least 2 dozen though.

  25. This recipe turned out incredibly well for my husband’s birthday cake! The next day it the glaze turned it into a donut-like cake! Simply put of this world! Thank you so much!!

  26. Looks yummy.  Can you

    Leave out the poppy seeds?

    Thanks.

    1. You can leave them out, yes.

  27. Eeeek. My cake stuck to the pan. Odd because I pam’ed the crap out of it beforehand. Maybe next time I’ll give it a coat of flour as well. Such a bummer cause the cake turned out marvelous!!

  28. Hi Sally, I plan on making this cake for Father’s Day.  Can I make it the night before and leave it at room temperature covered?

    1. You sure can, but I would keep it in the refrigerator.

  29. This is perfect–exactly what I was looking for! I wanted something really moist with a good color without added dye. I’ve made it twice and its bakery quality! Good work!

  30. Can I substitute orange for lemon in this recipe and make this a orange poppyseed bundt cake? Same amounts on juice and zest, etc?

    1. Make this one (basically the same) and add poppy seeds 🙂 So good!

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