Lemon poppyseed cake

Lemon poppyseed cake

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(28 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 40 mins - 45 mins


12 slices
Lemon and poppyseed cake is a baking classic, packed with zesty flavours and drenched in icing for the ultimate treat alongside a cuppa

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per slice (12)

  • kcal314
  • fat14g
  • saturates8g
  • carbs44g
  • sugars32g
  • fibre1g
  • protein4g
  • salt0.5g
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  • 175g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 4 lemons, zested and 2 juiced for icing



    Oval in shape with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile…

  • 3 eggs



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition packed with protein and a…

  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 125g pot natural yoghurt

For the icing

  • 200g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice (see above)


  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the base of a 20cm square deep cake tin (or if using a decorative tin like ours, grease well).

  2. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until combined. Spoon into the tin and smooth over the top. Bake for 40-45 mins. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then turn out, peel off the parchment and leave to cool on a wire rack.

  3. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Beat in the lemon juice to make a runny icing. Pour over the cake and leave to set.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Robin Morris's picture
Robin Morris
7th Apr, 2019
This turned out identical to the slices I used to buy from Pret-a-manage (I think they've since removed the poppy-seeds from their lemon cake tho). It's moist and very tasty. I think the amount of lemon flavour is perfect and and I found the cooking time to be spot on (40mins)
10th Jun, 2018
This recipe works perfectly every time for me! I find that you need to whip up the butter and sugar really well, but try to minimise mixing once you add the flour otherwise it makes the cake very heavy (gluten levels rise the more you mix). You can also make it more lemony by poking it with a skewer while it’s still warm and pouring in a simple lemon and sugar syrup. Let it cool completely, and then add the lemon icing!
1st Nov, 2017
Far too stodgy, after an hour of cooking it still wasn't properly cooked but the outside was starting to burn. Tried again the next day with a slightly different oven temperature and longer cooking time and still I have semi-cooked cake in the middle and at the bottom - a skewer came out clean. It tastes lovely but the texture is way off. I've been baking for decades and this isn't an easy recipe .. easy to get wrong because of poor instructions or quantities maybe! Won't be trying again, I'll look elsewhere. Edit: Tried yet again with the addition of baking powder, the result was the same, I think there's too much fat in it to ever make it anything but heavy and stodgy.
9th Mar, 2017
Stodgy and not really lemony.
3rd Sep, 2016
It is really easy and the yoghurt is a good compliment to the lemon. I added lemon extract as some of the suggestions said. I did it a normal bread pan but then baked it for 55 minutes as it is thicker. The icing is really good but you really do have to be patient so it dries, but after it dries, it is not at all sticky and adds a nice dimension.
18th Jun, 2016
Just baked this ready for Fathers Day tomorrow. Followed the recipe to a tee but put the mixture in two 8 inch (20cm) round cake tins to make a lemon Victoria sponge. Took 20 minutes to bake until golden brown and will put lemon curd in between both layers before sandwiching and finishing with the runny icing.
15th Jun, 2016
Made this today and really not convinced. Definitely not lemony enough despite 4 lemons. I even added lemon extract. It took nearly an hour to cook. If I tried it again I would use a lemon glaze when it's warm rather than the 'runny' icing.
25th Feb, 2016
I made this yesterday and it was absolutely perfect. Cooking time and everything was spot on! My whole family loved it and even my dad who isn't big on dessert took some extra to work!! Super moist and delicious - absolutely beautiful. NOTE: I didn't drown it in icing, just drizzled lightly over the cake with a spoon and it was still perfect !
22nd Mar, 2015
I baked this cake, whilst working up the courage to cook a lemon meringue pie. I must say this is a lovely moist cake, great with a cuppa. I also added lemon extract and think it added a great extra tang. I would definitely make this again.
23rd Jan, 2015
I baked this cake in a bundt tin as a birthday cake, following the recipe almost to a T. The only thing I changed was adding a teaspoon of lemon extract to the batter to make it even more pungent. It looked beautiful and tasted wonderful. Very light, very moist and beautifully lemony although the birthday girl said it could have taken even more lemon flavour.


24th Jun, 2017
I'm baking this cake to take on holiday - should I leave it un-iced in case the icing doesn't stay "dry"?
goodfoodteam's picture
28th Jun, 2017
Thanks for your question. You can ice the cake if you like. It shouldn't become moist but may be a bit brittle.
15th Oct, 2016
If you want the cake really lemon-y, squeeze one lemon's worth of lemon juice into the cake mix itself before baking (as there are two zested lemons spare in the ingredients). It makes the cake really moist without being soggy and adds extra flavour. I also added a pinch of baking powder to make it rise better.
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