Very Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Very Lemon Poppy Seed Cake from GF Canteen

If you like lemon and poppy seeds, you’re going to love this cake. It’s dense, kind of old-fashioned and happens to have more than four gazillion poppy seeds in it. I know because I counted them after spilling a bunch (not in the cake) on the floor. 

About those seeds.  I buy poppy seeds by the pound from Keep them covered tightly in the freezer and they won’t get rancid. If you buy poppy seeds in the jar from the grocery, give them a sniff before using because their shelf life is a lot like my shelf life in a hot summer day (give me air conditioning or give me a daiquiri or, um both).

The cake is adapted from this recipe from Kurt Guttenbrunner here. It’s supposed to be a Viennese thing but I actually remember my mom making something similar and she wouldn’t have known Viennese from French from Brooklyn. I’m pretty sure her recipe came from a friend of her mother or aunt which would make it very old timey recipe – about a century old.

This cake, while loaded with big lemon flavor, is even bigger on the poppy seeds. Think poppy seed cookie super-sized. It would be just fine to dial back the amount of poppy seeds and let the lemon flavor be the star, but make it as directed the first time so you have an idea of what to expect. Then change it.

It’s a nice little cake for a long weekend and goes well with that endless pot of coffee or tea. Just be sure to check those teeth before you go out anywhere. Poppy seeds are sneaky little lurkers.

Very Lemon Poppy Seed Cake from GF Canteen

Very Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
  • 230 grams unsalted butter, browned (1 cup)
  • 85 grams good quality poppy seeds (heaping ½ cup or 3 ounces)
  • 100 grams granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 175 grams egg yolk (7 extra large eggs)
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 4 lemons, zested
  • 130 grams Canteen flour blend (1 cup) (see notes)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In a deep sided saucepan heat the butter until foamy and becomes nutty brown with lots of dark bits. Remove from the heat, scraping up the dark bits. Using a pastry brush, generously butter a bundt or tube pan. Let the remaining butter cool until you can touch the bottom of the pan.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the poppy seeds on medium heat just until fragrant – about 3 minutes. Be careful because they burn easily. Remove pan from the heat and cool. In a small coffee grinder (used for spices) grind half the poppy seeds with a teaspoon of the sugar - a few pulses will do.
  3. In a large bowl using a stand or electric mixer, blend the sugar, yolks, and eggs on medium high speed until light yellow, thick and fluffy, about five minutes. Mix in the zest, flour, butter and all the poppy seeds. Scrape batter (it will be stiff) into the prepared pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet. Place pan in a cold oven and turn the temperature to 325°F. Bake 35-45 minutes or just until a toothpick comes out without crumbs. The cake will be rather short and dense. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove the cake from the pan and cool on a rack until room temperature. Store cake at room temperature wrapped in plastic.
see right side bar, About Flour for Canteen blend

Very Lemon Poppy Seed Cake from GF Canteen


  1. Judith Stander says:

    I’ve just finished mopping up the drool from my keyboard. YUM!

  2. I don’t mind it