Lemon-Poppy Seed Loaf Cake

With the pure taste of lemon, butter, and sugar, this classic loaf cake is an ideal addition to any dessert table.


  • 2 large lemons
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, plus 1/3 cup for the glaze
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour 5 x 9-inch loaf pan.

Remove the peel from the lemons with a vegetable peeler. Squeeze lemons to make 1/4 cup juice. Reserve lemon juice for glaze.

Whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Combine sugar and lemon peel in a food processor. Process until peel is finely chopped. Beat butter and sugar/lemon mixture on medium speed until fluffy in a large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and then vanilla.

Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture, blending on low speed after each addition until just combined. Pour batter into pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a think knife around cake to loosen from sides of pan. Invert onto rack, set over a sheet of wax paper.

Make the glaze: Combine reserved sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. With a pastry brush, brush mixture over top and sides of warm cake. Cool completely. Store cake airtight at room temperature.

Tip: The cake only improves in flavor. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature for 1 to 2 days before serving.

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