Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake close up

So although they were saved, the turnovers for Trevor didn’t quite go as planned. Also, I only saved 5 or 6 of them for him at home while I brought a couple dozen to work.

To maintain a stable marriage, I really had to bake him something else and keep it all at home, just to make sure he knew that he didn’t just always get the dregs of whatever was leftover after my coworkers were done with it.

Also, he had some tummy aches this week and I felt sorry for him. Poor dude.

Fitting right in with the summer theme of his that we all now know of, he has a strong affection for lemon poppy seed baked goods. In a muffin, a pound cake, doesn’t really matter what, the combination just hits all the right notes with him. Although it may not be very “winter”, I love it too.


The tang of lemon and the texture of the poppy seeds just add an interest in what could have been a sad muffin or a plain pound cake.

Poppy Seeds

Not that there’s anything plain about pound cake. Traditionally a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of eggs and a pound of flour, it’s a magical ratio that rarely goes wrong. With that amount of butter and sugar, dryness is a faraway possibility, and the cake always has such a dense, flavourful crumb. But then introduce lemon and poppy seeds to the party with that tang cutting right through the sweet and the heavy to bring a new depth to the cake…

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake Batter

Wow, my mouth just completely filled with saliva.

Now the recipe I’ve got is extra special. It reminds me of the Kentucky Butter Cake because when it’s done, you take a cake tester, poke the cake full of holes..

Poking lots of holes in the cake with a cake tester

and then brush the entire surface of the cake with a lemon syrup.

Brushing lemon syrup on the cake

After sitting in the pan for 10 minutes, you repeat the process on the bottom of the cake, and then spread all the remaining glaze on the sides.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

The really tough part about making this cake? You’re supposed to wait 24 hours before you slice into it so that the syrup really has time to soak into the cake. Oh bother.

Trevor feeling better with some pound cake

This one’s all for you Trev… minus the several slices I’m sure I’ll steal.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Recipe from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

(I told you I loved that lady! Also, Rose weighs all her ingredients in her cakes. I follow in suit for my flour and sugar, it is a fantastic idea to make sure the ratio is just right.)

  • All ingredients should be at room temperature.


  • 3 tablespoons milk (1.5 ounces = 45 grams)
  • 3 large eggs (scant 5 fluid ounces = 5.25 ounces = 150 grams, weighed without shells)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla (6 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (5.25 ounces = 150 grams)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (5.25 ounces = 150 grams)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder (3.7 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon loosely packed grated lemon zest (6 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds (1 ounce = 28 grams)
  • 13 tablespoons unsalted butter, must be softened (6.5 ounces = 184 grams)

Lemon Syrup

  • 1/4 + 2 tablespoons sugar (2.75 ounces = 75 grams)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 ounces = 63 grams)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl lightly combine the milk, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients, including the lemon zest and poppy seeds, and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and half the egg mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 minute to aerate and develop the cake’s structure.
  4. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the remaining egg mixture in 2 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. The batter will be almost 1/2 inch from the top of a 4-cup loaf pan. (If your pan is slightly smaller, use any excess batter for cupcakes.) Bakes 55 to 65 minutes (35 to 45 minutes in a fluted tube pan) or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cover loosely with buttered foil after 30 minutes to prevent overbrowning. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.
  6. To get an attractive split down the middle of the crust, wait until the natural split is about to develop (about 20 minutes) and then with a lightly greased sharp knife or a single-edged razor blade make a shallow mark about 6 inches long down the middle of the cake. This must be done quickly so that the oven door does not remain open very long or the cake will fall. When cake splits, it will open along the mark.
  7. Shortly before the cake is done, prepare the Lemon Syrup: In a small pan over medium heat, stir the sugar and lemon juice until dissolved. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a rack, poke the cake all over with a wire tester, and brush it with 1/2 the syrup. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a spatula and invert it onto a greased wire rack. Poke the bottom of the cake with the wire tester, brush it with some syrup, and reinvert onto a greased wire rack. Brush the sides with the remaining syrup and allow to cool before wrapping airtight. Store 24 hours before eating to give the syrup a chance to distribute evenly. The syrup will keep the cake fresh a few days longer than a cake without syrup.

Store: Airtight: 3 days room temperature, 1 week refrigerated, 2 months frozen.

Serve: Room temperature.


5 thoughts on “Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

    • Thanks so much! And it actually hasn’t been, it’s been fighting with the Raspberry tart for my husband’s affection. That’s what happens when I don’t bring stuff to work. Whoops!

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