Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

lemon poppy seed loaf cake picnic recipe cupofjo (1)

This month, we’re featuring summer picnic recipes. Today, April of Rhubarb & Rose shares one of her favorite portable treats: this glazed lemon poppy seed cake, which is the perfect ending to an outdoor meal. Here’s how she makes it…

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Cake
By April Carter of Rhubarb & Rose

Summertime in London can be unpredictable, so it’s a real event when the sun comes out and everyone heads to the park. This cake makes for a refreshing, lemony end to a picnic on a warm day. The poppy seeds provide a bit of crunch, but feel free to leave them out if you don’t have any. The loaf shape makes it easy to transport, and it’s perfectly happy being carried across town, or on a hot underground journey wrapped in parchment paper.

Recipe: Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Cake

You’ll need:

For the cake:
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
¼ cup poppy seeds
Zest of 2 lemons

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
Poppy seeds, for sprinkling

Heat the oven to 350F and butter and line a one pound (4½ x 2½ x 8½ inch) loaf tin with baking parchment. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, poppy seeds and lemon zest and beat until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as you go.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and remove the baking parchment.

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. Use a spoon to beat the powdered sugar with enough lemon juice to form a runny but opaque glaze. Set the cooled cake on a wire rack and drizzle over the glaze. Sprinkle over the poppy seeds and allow the glaze to set for a few minutes before packaging up. It’s the perfect portable dessert.


Thank you so much, April!

P.S. More best recipes, including chocolate chip banana muffins and raspberry coffee cake

(Photos and recipe by April Carter of Rhubarb & Rose. Thanks to Caroline Donofrio for helping with this series.)

  1. This is my favorite recipe of all time! I love how moist the cake is and the little bit of almond flavoring really tastes wonderful! I made it twice for my boyfriend and after the first bite, he kept asking me to make more. We’ve now made it a tradition to make it together and then sit with a hot cup of coffee while we wait for it to bake. It’s beautiful to bring food to your family, but it’s also special to share in the making of it!

    So lovely. Thanks for sharing. I highly recommend this recipe to anybody who loves lemon poppy seed!

  2. That looks delicious!! I have to try that recipe :-)

  3. Thanks for all of the lovely comments guys!

    Kasia – Yes, I am usually a grams girl too but it was fun to do this recipe in cups. The recipe in grams is:
    For the cake: 170g unsalted butter, 170g sugar, 190g plain flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, pinch of salt, 2 eggs, 60ml milk, 30g poppy seeds, Zest of 2 lemons / For the glaze: 150g powdered sugar, Juice of ½ lemon, poppy seeds for sprinkling

    Lauren S – would love to know how the vegan/gluten-free version turns out

    Abbie – no need to soak for this recipe! Interesting point though.

  4. I was always under the impression that poppyseeds need to be soaked before adding to recipes. Is that a given or is that step skipped in this recipe? Thanks!

  5. This looks so delicious! I would have lemon with anything.

  6. Mmm I LOVE lemon poppyseed.

  7. My picnic game is about to get CRAZAY. I made the banana cream pie for a friend’s birthday last week and he is still raving about it.

  8. How do you measure butter in a cup? (I recently bought measuring jugs to be more flexible with recipes, eventhough In my head I convert everything into grams:)
    I was wondering if there was any chance for supplying both cups/ounces and grams/mls on the recipes? Given the blog is so popular worldwide now:)

  9. Ooh, yummy! Loving this picnic food series. Picnics are the best, especially with under 5 year olds.

  10. This reminds me of a loaf cake my grandmother used to make!

  11. Oh wow, this looks so delicious! I definitely to try and give this a go.

    Beccy ~ Bluebell & Bumpkin

  12. Mmmm this looks so lovely. I love the combo of lemon and poppy seeds. Perfect summer treat.


  13. One of my favorites, though I have never made it myself! Now I will :)