Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

This is an amazingly moist and flavorful traditional style lemon poppy seed pound cake from Rose Levy Beranbaum. It’s easy to make and is great with berries too.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 10Source Adapted from Rose Levy BeranbaumPublished

serves 10 to 12


  • 3 tablespoon milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cup sifted cake flour
  • .75 cup sugar
  • .75 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon confectioners sugar
  • 13 tablespoon unsalted butter, at about 70 degrees f.
  • 3 tablespoon lightly toasted poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • egg wash of 1 egg & 1 t water (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl lightly combine the milk, eggs, and vanilla.

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.

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.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. The batter will be less than ½ inch from the top of a 4‑cup loaf pan. (If your pan is slightly smaller, use any excess batter for cupcakes.) If you like a shiny surface you may use the optional egg wash at this point. 

Bake 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.

Shortly before the cake is done, prepare the Lemon Syrup:
In a small pan over medium heat, stir the powdered 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 ½ 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.