This Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Cake is super quick and easy to make in one bowl. Perfect for afternoon tea or a sweet treat, this quick bread has a deliciously light crumb packed with lemon flavours and crunch from the poppy seeds.
This recipe was first posted in May 2019 and updated in September 2022.
Why we love this recipe
Lemon and Poppy Seed is a classic combination that never goes out of style. Whether it is in Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies or Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, the mix of tangy Lemon and crunchy, slightly bitter Poppy Seeds works every time.
This Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf cake is super quick and super easy to make in less than 1 hour. The cake has a great soft and fluffy texture, delicious Lemon flavour and fun added crunch thanks to the Poppy Seeds.
No electric mixer required here - just get a bowl, a whisk and get ready to bake!
To make this Poppy Seed Lemon Loaf, you will need (scroll down to recipe card below for all quantities below):
- Dry Ingredients: a mix of Plain / All-Purpose Flour, Baking Powder and Baking Soda. You can add a little bit of Salt as well. This dry mix can be substituted with Self-Rising Flour (with the same quantity as flour).
- Poppy Seeds: can be found plain or slightly crushed or ground. I used plain poppy seeds here.
- Eggs: medium to large eggs at room temperature.
- Oil: I used Canola Oil but any type of neutral-flavoured vegetable oil will work here. It can be substituted with melted butter but the cake will tend to get drier more quickly with butter. For a slightly different taste, you can switch the neutral oil for olive oil
- Lemon: both the Zest and the Juice. For the best flavours, always use fresh lemon juice (not bottled lemon juice).
- Yogurt: Greek Yogurt or (unsweetened) Natural Yogurt. Sour Cream will work as well, but make sure it is at room temperature before using.
Optionally, you can also add a little bit of Vanilla Extract or some Lemon Essence for a stronger lemon flavor.
How to make Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
- Prepare a 25 cm (10-inch) Loaf Pan: lightly grease the pan and line it with baking paper (parchment paper) hanging over the sides. Alternatively, grease the loaf pan well then dust with flour. Tip the pan over and tap against a hard surface to remove any excess flour.
- Preheat your oven on 180 degree Celsius / 350 degree Fahrenheit.
- Photo 1: Mix together all the dry ingredients: Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Poppy Seed. Set aside.
- Photo 2: in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the Eggs, Sugar and Lemon Zest for a couple of minutes.
- Photo 3: It should look lightly bubbly and be slightly more pale than at the start.
The more you whisk the eggs and sugar, the more air bubbles you incorporate into the cake batter and the lighter the lemon quick bread will be.
If you are using a stand mixer to make the cake, use the whisk attachment for the first step then switch to the paddle attachment to mix in the rest of the ingredients.
- Photo 4: Add the rest of the wet ingredients: Lemon Juice, Oil, Yogurt and Milk. Stir until combined. The mixture should look quite liquid at this point.
- Photo 5: Add the Flour Mixture to the wet ingredients.
- Photo 6: Mix until just combined, stopping as soon as the flour is all incorporated to avoid overworking the cake batter.
- Photo 7: Pour the lemon poppy seed cake batter into the prepared loaf pan.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The top of the loaf should be lightly golden.
To know it is baked, insert a skewer or toothpick in the middle of the cake. You should see very small crumbs of cake on the skewer. If you see raw batter on the skewer, bake for a little bit longer.
- Place on a wire rack to cool down completely before removing from the pan and slicing.
Loaf Cakes are often confused with Pound Cakes, but they are different.
A Pound Cake is, just like its name indicates, a dessert made using a pound (or equal quantities) of four basic ingredients: flour, sugar, butter and Eggs.
A Loaf Cake (also called "Quick Bread"), however, can be any sort of cakes batter baked in a Loaf Pan.
You can use as little or as much Poppy Seeds as you'd like! I personally find the quantity used here to be a good ratio but you could slightly increase it if preferred. Note that poppy seeds can be a bit bitter so it will affect the overall flavours of the loaf cake if you use a lot of it.
No need to soak the poppy seeds first here - they will bake inside the cake!
I personally don't find that a glaze or icing adds much in terms of flavours other that sweetness but you can absolutely make one if you like sweeter desserts!
You can make a classic lemon drizzle by mixing powdered sugar (or icing sugar) with a little bit of lemon juice. Alternatively, for a stronger lemon taste, make a lemon syrup by reducing some lemon juice with sugar in a small saucepan.
Tips for Success
- For extra Lemon Flavours, rub the Lemon Zest and Sugar with your fingers to release the flavoursome oils from the zest.
- If the top of the lemon poppy seed cake looks to be browning quickly but the centre of the cake is still raw, cover the loaf pan with aluminum foil and continue to bake until fully baked.
- There are two ways to create a nice crack in the middle of the loaf. First, pipe a thin line of soft butter over the raw batter before baking. It will melt and create the 'crack'. Secondly, take the cake out of the oven after 10 minutes and use a small sharp knife to slash the slightly set cake batter.
- For extra tangy lemon flavours, prepare a Lemon Syrup by cooking some Lemon Juice and Caster Sugar until reduced and very slightly thick. Pour over the lemon poppy seed loaf when still warm to infuse it.
Storing & Freezing
This lemon poppy seed cake can be kept at room temperature for up to three days. Store it in an air-tight container or in the loaf pan covered with plastic wrap. If preferred, it can also be kept in the fridge but the crumb won't stay as moist.
The quick bread can be frozen either whole or in slices. Let it cool down completely before putting in the freezer, wrapped in a layer of plastic wrap and one layer of aluminium foil.
Leave to thaw at room temperature overnight. Individual slices can be thawed in the microwave for a few seconds.
Made this recipe?
Let us know if you liked it by leaving a comment below, and tag us on Instagram @a.baking.journey with a photo of your creation!
Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Cake
Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf
- 250 gr (1 2/3 cup) Plain / All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 20 gr (5 teaspoons) Poppy Seeds
- 100 gr (1/2 cup) Caster Sugar
- 2 Eggs - medium to large size, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoon Lemon Zest - about 2 large lemons
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) Canola Oil - or neutral vegetable oil
- 120 gr (1/2) Greek Yogurt
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) Lemon Juice
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) Full Cream / Whole Milk
I highly recommend using the measurements in grams & ml (instead of cups & spoons) for more accuracy and better results.
Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf
- Preheat your oven on 180'C/350'F. Grease a 25 cm (10-inch) Loaf Pan and line with baking paper (or dust with flour)
- Mix together all the dry ingredients (Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Poppy Seeds). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the Sugar, Eggs and Lemon Zest for a couple of minutes or until lightly bubbly and lighter in colour.
- Whisk in the Lemon Juice, Yogurt, Oil and Milk until smooth.
- Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until just combined (see note 1).
- Pour the cake batter in the greased loaf pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until lightly golden (see note 2).
- Leave to cool down completely before removing from the loaf pan and slicing.
Tried this recipe? Make sure to leave a comment and star rating below!
- Stop mixing as soon as you cannot see flour anymore to avoid overworking the cake batter.
- If you can still see a bit of movement in the middle of the cake, it needs to bake for longer. To know it is baked, insert a skewer or toothpick in the middle of the cake. You should see very small crumbs of cake on the skewer. If you see raw batter on the skewer, bake for a little bit longer.