Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

August 21st, 2007  | Category: Cakes

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Nothing cheers me up more than a thick slice of homemade cake on a Monday morning breakfast. I try to bake a fresh loaf every Sunday for the following week. Of course, it never lasts until the weekend.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake Recipe

A favorite of mine is this lemon poppy seed cake. Golden brown and slightly crusty on the outside, soft as a feather inside. I like to brush the top with rose jam.

Rose jam on top of a lemon cake, you ask? I know, I know… It is the strangest combination, but I can’t help it. And I certainly do not recommend, unless you are into weird combinations. Apricot or peach jam would be a much safer choice.

Now I have to find a recipe to put those ripe bananas sitting on my counter for ages into good use.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake Recipe


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest (zest of 2 lemons)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite jam


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 12 x 4 inch loaf pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Mix in poppy seeds.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar, heavy cream and lemon zest and beat until creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vegetable oil, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Beat to incorporate. Add the flour mixture and stir with a spatula until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven, remove from the pan and place it on a wire rack. Brush the top of the cake with your favorite jam and let cool completely.
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  1. 1 - Mandy on August 21st, 2007

    I love anything lemony. And I think the rose jam is an interesting combo. 🙂 I will certainly use that (if I can find one here..)Do you think I can use yogurt or milk in place of heavy cream?

  2. 2 - zinnur on August 21st, 2007

    Cenk, looks gorgeous, as always! May i humbly suggest that you increase the poppy seeds and maximize the crunch? That’s the best thing about a poppy seed cake as far as i am concerned 🙂 As for the bananas, Nick Malgieri’s Banana Cake is a good one, comes with a ‘no butter’ bonus. i could not find it online, but for Turkish instructions, you can look here.

  3. 3 - Anh on August 21st, 2007

    A lovely cake. And I think rose jam tastes nice on a slice of this cake!

  4. 4 - Sil BsAs on August 22nd, 2007

    You’re right, seems perfect for breakfast! now I’d like to know the amount of butter since here we have sticks of 100 or 200 grams each…thanks!

  5. 5 - Cenk on August 22nd, 2007

    Sil – 1 stick butter = 120 gr.

  6. 6 - joey on August 22nd, 2007

    This is a much loved cake by my mum and I 🙂 I have never gotten around to making my own but you have now given me the inspiration! Looks delicious!

  7. 7 - Valli on August 22nd, 2007

    Years ago when my daughter was in elementary school I volunteered in the reading program as well as for many other things as well. The point of the story is that one of the teachers would always make Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf on treat days. I loved it then and I love it now!!!! Thanks for the nostalgic moment. I will have to try it again!!!!

  8. 8 - Cenk on August 22nd, 2007

    Thank you joey! I’m glad you like it.

    Valli – I hope you like this version.

  9. 9 - Patricia Scarpin on August 22nd, 2007

    Citrus cakes are my favorite, Cenk – the rose jelly made me curious!

  10. 10 - Pinar on August 22nd, 2007

    I just made a lemon cake from a box (and added the pppy seeds myself). But I was looking for a good recipe for a homemade one. You should make a banana nut bread with those bananas. If you don’t have time to bake the cake now, just pop the bananas in the freezer, they work just fine when you defrost them for the cake.

  11. 11 - Rosa on August 23rd, 2007

    Your cake looks marvelous and perfect! That’s one of my favorite teatime treats….

  12. 12 - Master of the Mansion on August 23rd, 2007

    White Mansion misses u

  13. 13 - tijen on August 23rd, 2007

    It’s one of my favorite cakes too. I apply it to (I mean lemon and poppyseeds) a standart Turkish cake which is called 1-2-3-4 cake. Do you know it?
    I had a wonderful banana bread recipe but I lost that book. I’m sure you’ll find a great recipe!

  14. 14 - Tartelette on August 24th, 2007

    Seems like the perfect breakfast to me! You actually put sexy into lemon poppyseed cake with your pictures!

  15. 15 - Cenk on August 24th, 2007

    Tijen – No I have not heard a cake by that name. Sounds interesting. And yes, I have found the perfect banana bread recipe. I’ll post it sometime next week.

    Tartelette – Thank you!

  16. 16 - tijen on August 25th, 2007

    1 glass of milk
    2 glasses of sugar
    3 glasses of flour
    4 eggs
    of course the rest: some oil/butter (I never use margarine, so I don’t use that word either), baking powder and whatever you want to add. It’s an easy to remember cake. I don’t need recipes to bake a cake but for so many people it’s difficult to make them without recipes. So this one is quite handy.

  17. 17 - selin on August 25th, 2007

    Hello Cenk, I was looking for a different recipe to bake a monday morning cake 🙂 This is what Im gonna try tomorrow. Thanks.

    selin (www.selincaglayan.com)

  18. 18 - selin on August 25th, 2007

    Ooops, tomorrow is sunday, I am confused with days. Looks like i will have to bake another one for monday morning anyway, I dont think this one will last longer than a day 😉 Looks delicious!

    selin (www.selincaglayan.com)

  19. 19 - JEP on August 25th, 2007

    Lemon poppy seed has always been a favorite combination for me. I may add more poppy seeds, tho’ Haven’t decided on what jam/jelly to use. Looks so delicious!

  20. 20 - Salvatore on August 25th, 2007

    I like wierd combinations so I am going to make this and try it with the rose jam. Like the site. Keep it up

  21. 21 - Cenk on August 25th, 2007

    Tijen – Thank you for the recipe. Now I can understand why it’s called 1-2-3-4 cake. What a brilliant name! Someone with a memory problem should have invented that, I’m sure 🙂 I’ll give it a try and let you know how it turns out.

    Selin – Hello. So nice to hear from you. I hope you like the taste when you bake it. Please let me know.

    JEP – Thanks for stopping by. More poppy seeds will definitely not hurt anyone…

    Salvatore – Let me know how you like it. Thank you for your comment.

  22. 22 - David on August 27th, 2007

    I got some rose jam which, to be honest, is a bit too grandma-like for me. But I think brushing it over a lemony cake is a good idea.

  23. 23 - Chef Tom on August 27th, 2007

    This recipe sounds great and those pics look even better! I’m going to try this out for my mother, she loves lemon poppy cake ! Thanks 🙂

  24. 24 - Cenk on August 27th, 2007

    David – I can’t think of a rose jam that is not grandma-like… But I just can’t resist it. It is my favorite jam.

    Chef Tom – Thank you! I hope your Mom likes it.

  25. 25 - Shaun on August 28th, 2007

    Cenk – I, too, love having slices of cake to eat throughout the week. I think the rose jam is inspired -I tend to spread a black currant, pomegranate and acai jam on top of my slices of lemon loaf cakes. I will try this recipe next time, for I never use poppy seeds even though I like them.

  26. 26 - Marianna on October 22nd, 2007

    Rose jam! I’d go for that, I’m into “strange” things rather then classics! Once again, love your ideas and work!

  27. 27 - Anor on February 1st, 2008

    hi Cenk , i came across this recipe , simple enuff, tried to bake it twice … but i’m not happy with the results ..:(. the cake was not fluffy like the picture shown here. oh, well .looks like i just have to drool at the pictures.

  28. 28 - Karin on July 15th, 2008

    Hi Cenk,
    I want to try this recipe but don’t want to use heavy cream. Is it possible not to use it or substitute with something else?

  29. 29 - Cenk on July 16th, 2008

    Hi Karin – I guess you can use milk instead. Hope you like it!

  30. 30 - Lisa on July 16th, 2008

    I tried the cake with buttermilk instead of the heavy cream (that’s what I had in the fridge), and it turned out very well. I think the tangy buttermilk is a good combination with lemon, and it’s lower in fat than the cream.

  31. 31 - Cenk on July 16th, 2008

    Thanks for the great suggestion Lisa!

  32. 32 - Jamie on October 22nd, 2008

    Discovered your site not too long ago and i have really enjoyed the cultural mix. I added it to my favorites and lo and behold! I needed to take a birthday cake to work and I love poppyseeds (and lemon) so I whipped this up. I followed it exactly except for substituting turkish yogurt for the sour cream. It turned out so well, and the apricot jam that i spread on while it was still hot created a fantastic finish to the cake. So thank you and I hope to try more of your recipes. From 67degrees north, Jamie

  33. 33 - Cenk on October 24th, 2008

    Thanks Jamie! Glad you enjoyed the cake.

  34. 34 - Naz on November 13th, 2008

    Exactly the recipe I was looking for! I just baked it and it tastes delicious. Many thanks Cenk:) (ps:used milk instead of heavy cream & needed around 40 minutes)

  35. 35 - Beth on January 8th, 2009

    This sounds like it could be similar to a cake I used to buy years ago in NY City. The shop is no longer around. The cake was not cheap, but it was wonderful and worth every cent. Definitely going to give this a try. Thanks!

  36. 36 - Cenk on January 11th, 2009

    Beth – Hope you like it!

  37. 37 - Cyndi on May 14th, 2009

    I was having a major craving for the lemon and poppy seed combo, so I made a loaf of this and glazed it with a Meyer lemon simple syrup while it was still hot. I cannot wait to dig into it in about an hour! Thanks for the recipe!

  38. 38 - Véronique on February 25th, 2010

    I will spend a few days in Istanbul in a few weeks and because I am very fond of anything that has roses in it, I hope to find some good edible rose extract, as well as jam and lokums, or anything I haven’t yet thought about. Are there brands, products or shops you can recommend? I have no idea where to stop and what to avoid in the Spice Market, for instance and couldn’t find advices on the net.
    (BTW, I find that orange and rose syrup harmonize well, so I’m rather tempted to try this weird lemon/rose combination. 🙂 )

  39. 39 - Cenk on February 25th, 2010

    Veronique – I know the perfect place for you: Vie en Rose! The owner, Jayda, carries a whole range of rose products, all organic and edible. Actually, everything in her shop (located in the Cihangir district), including the face cream, is edible. She was also mentioned in a recent WSJ article. Check it out here if you’re interested. I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for there. Let me know if you need advice on anything else.

  40. 40 - Véronique on March 2nd, 2010

    Thank you Cenk! I note the address. I guess I still need an address for rose jelly though. I have already noted your favourite lokoum place too, a while ago, and may come back with other questions later on since you kindly offer your help. 🙂

  41. 41 - Cenk on March 3rd, 2010

    Veronique – Finding rose jelly wouldn’t be that hard. I usually receive jam as gift, so I’ve never tried finding a decent rose jam, but the supermarkets here have many brands available. It is much better if you can find a homemade jam. Please ask Jayda while you’re at her shop and she can recommend a nearby deli for you to check out. If you need anything else, please feel free to ask.

  42. 42 - Lolotte on March 18th, 2011

    Thank you for the recipe. I baked your cake this week but I added also the juice of the two lemons to the dough. I also replaced the jam by a chocolate glazing:-) Very good!

  43. 43 - asli on October 9th, 2011

    Cenk I cook your poppyseed lemon cake all the time. Thank you very much for saving my life as I am not a very successful person when it comes to bake cakes.

  44. 44 - aurora on July 17th, 2012

    loved it! many thanks….

  45. 45 - Mirjana on January 6th, 2013

    I baked this cake today, and it is quickly to prepare and very nice, thanks!

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