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Lemon Poppy Seed Bread is studded with poppy seeds and topped with a lemon glaze! This easy lemon loaf cake recipe is so moist and tender and makes a great breakfast or dessert.

We love lemon flavored desserts like our Moist Lemon Cake RecipeLemon Mousse Recipe, and our Easy Lemon Curd Recipe that makes a great filling for cakes and cookies.

top-down view of lemon poppy seed cake with two slices cut off on a white ceramic cutting board, garnished with lemons next to a glass bowl with poppy seeds

How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread is an easy pound cake recipe made with lemon juice, lemon zest, buttermilk, and poppy seeds. This cake is extremely moist and tender and keeps fresh for days. My secret to extra flavorful lemon cakes is to brush them with a lemon syrup just after baking so they soak up the flavor and then brush them with a thick lemon icing. So delicious!

This Lemon Cake with Poppy Seeds makes a great dessert or afternoon snack and tastes even better than the Starbucks Lemon Poppyseed Loaf – perfect with a cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea!

How to make lemon poppy seed bread collage

Tips for making Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

  • Line the pan with a piece of parchment paper leaving an overhang on two sides so you can easily lift out the cake after baking
  • Make sure that the butter has room temperature and is soft
  • For the best results make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature, this helps the cake bake more evenly
  • For the best flavor use freshly squeezed lemon juice! Bottled lemon juice works too but I prefer the taste of fresh lemon juice
  • Use a Microplane zester to grate the lemon peel.
  • When you make the lemon glaze for this poppy seed bread don’t add too much liquid. You want the glaze to be nice and thick not runny.
  • This cake keeps well covered at room temperature for up to 4 days.

a slice of lemon poppy seed cake on a white plate with a fork, garnished with lemon slices and a glass bowl with poppy seeds in the background.

How to make Lemon Glaze for Pound Cake

A lemon glaze adds even more lemon flavor to lemon cakes and breads. During baking flavors often mellow so to get a more intensive lemon flavor I like to brush my hot Lemon Bread with a syrup made from lemon juice and powdered sugar and then add a lemon glaze icing on top.

Making a lemon glaze is very easy. Start with sifting the powdered sugar to avoid clumps and then add lemon juice and milk. I always start with only part of the liquid and then add more as needed so the glaze is thick and creamy and not runny. This way it will form a nice thick icing crust that adds so much lemon flavor.

You can use this Lemon Glaze for Cakes, Bundt Cakes, Cookies, and Loaves.

Lemon glaze in a glass bowl with a whisk in it and a lemon and a bowl of powdered sugar next to it

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4.94 from 32 votes

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread is studded with poppy seeds and topped with a lemon glaze! This easy lemon loaf cake recipe is so moist and tender and makes a great breakfast or dessert.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients 

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp poppy seeds

For the Lemon Syrup:

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp powdered sugar

For the Lemon Icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tsp milk

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9x5-inch (or 8x4-inch) loaf pan and line it with a strip of parchment paper leaving an overhang on two sides to lift out the cake.
  • In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using an electric mixer) cream the softened butter and sugar together at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla extract and lemon juice. Beat on medium-high speed until combined.
  • With the mixer on low, add about one-third of the flour mixture and mix until almost combined, then add half the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Repeat with another third of flour mixture and then the last half of the buttermilk, ending with the last third of the flour. Beat until just incorporated. Add poppy seeds and fold in with a spatula.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick comes out mostly clean with only a couple moist crumbs. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours.
  • Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Stir together the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar for the lemon syrup. Carefully transfer the cake to a cooling rack, then brush the syrup all over the cake while it’s still warm. Allow cake to cool completely.
  • When the cake is cooled, make the icing. Start with adding 1 Tbsp lemon juice to the powdered sugar then add as much milk as needed. The icing should be thick and not too runny. Spoon icing over cake and let harden before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 326kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 132mg | Potassium: 187mg | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 440IU | Vitamin C: 4.9mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 1.4mg
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About Julia Foerster

Hi, I'm Julia! Born in Germany, I call Canada now my home and love to share my favorite dishes with you! Here you'll find hundreds of recipes, all made from scratch, with lots of tips and detailed step-by-step instructions.

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4.94 from 32 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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46 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe! I did notice as I was near the end of the baking time that there was some moisture under the surface of the loaf, I just kept adding 2 minutes at a time and checking for doneness, so about 4 more minutes. It was delightful, fresh lemon juice really kicked it up a notch!

  2. 4 stars
    Do not use the recipe conversion to metric, some of the measurements go whacky. The cake comes out well as written.

    1. Could you let me know which measurements go whacky when you switch to metric? I’ve checked the recipe and couldn’t see anything obvious wrong. Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    I veganized some ingredients but otherwise followed the recipe exactly and this cake is DELICIOUS!!! Five stars all the way.

    Beautifully moist, lighter than I thought it would be, and delightfully lemony. What a nice bright sweet treat. 😊

    Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this recipe so many times and it always comes out perfectly moist and thanks to the syrup I can actually taste the lemon flavor…unlike with other recipes I tried.

  5. 5 stars
    I just made this and everything was perfect!
    the recipe
    the instructions
    the baking time
    the taste – heavenly!
    Thank you so much!
    Looking forward to trying the pumpkin muffins next.

      1. 5 stars
        For anyone else wondering about using almond milk in this recipe: yes, you can! Make your own almond “buttermilk” by mixing a tsp of lemon juice to the 3/4C almond milk.

        (With vegan butter and flax eggs, this cake is actually very easily completely veganized. Worked a charm for me!)