Lemon & Poppyseed Cake with a Yoghurt Glaze

There is something about lemon desserts that I find utterly irresistible. I know some people loathe sweet citrus combinations, but personally I find that the tart acidity of lemon in a cake or a tart helps to balance the tooth-aching sweetness of the dish.

And don’t get me started on lemon zest. If I had my way, I’d probably sprinkle it all around me as I walked about so I could always be surrounded by that sparkly, summery smell!

Alas, as it’s not quite possible to fragrance my surrounds with handfuls of lemon zest, the next best thing is to bake desserts flavoured with lemon so that at least the smell can permeate the kitchen with its glory, however transient it may be.

One of my favourite lemon sweets is this utterly luscious lemon and poppyseed cake. Ridiculously moist and heartbreakingly tender, this is a cake that any lemon-lover should try as it packs quite a citrussy hit. On top of all that, this is one of those cake recipes that is very difficult to get wrong :)

Lemon & Poppyseed Cake w/ Yoghurt Glaze
(An adaptation of an adaptation from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)

Cake Ingredients
200g cake flour, sifted
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3-4 tbsp poppyseeds (I always go 4 since I like my poppyseeds!)
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
240g caster sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup double cream

Lemon Syrup Ingredients
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C and prepare a loaf tin by either lining it with non stick baking paper or by greasing it and dusting it with flour.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then stir in the poppyseeds till combined.

3. Beat the butter with an electric beater till it is pale yellow and creamy (approximately 2-3 minutes, depending on your beater). Add the sugar and beat for another 3-4 minutes or till the sugar is has been completely beaten in and the mixture is again pale yellow and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time and make sure to beat well after each addition. If the butter begins to look curdled, it means you have not beaten the mixture for long enough so just keep beating it till it is once again smooth and fluffy. Once you’ve done with the eggs, add the vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat till incorporated.

5. Beat in the flour in three additions, alternating with the cream in two additions on a low setting till ingredients are only just incorporated (this is to prevent you from overworking the gluten in the batter and getting a tough or extremely domed cake). Scrape the batter into your prepared pans and bake for 1 hour, or till a skewer inserted comes out clean.

6. While the cake is baking, combine the sugar, water and lemon juice into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, set it aside till the cake is out of the oven. Once the cake is out, poke holes all over with a skewer and brush half the lemon juice over the top and stand for 5 minutes. Then, turn the cake over, poke holes in its underside and brush with the remaining syrup and allow cake to cool completely.

At this point, the cake is perfectly fine to enjoy as is, but I’ve found that pairing this with a yoghurt glaze is quite a lovely combination. The yoghurt adds a touch of creaminess and tanginess that plays quite well with the flavours in the cake!

Yoghurt Glaze Ingredients
1/4 cup natural or Greek yoghurt
1 1/2 cups soft icing mixture (keeps the dish less sweet than using pure icing sugar)
1 tsp lemon zest (optional! I just love the stuff, hehehe!)

Beat the yoghurt in a bowl with a fork till it is smooth and rid of lumps, then stir in the icing sugar a few tablespoons at a time, making sure that each addition is completely stirred in and that all lumps are gone. At this stage, stir in the lemon zest if you wish, then allow to sit for a few minutes before dolloping over the cake!

This glaze is actually quite marvellous for other cakes and muffins that aren’t quite up for a thick, heavy butter or cream cheese-based frosting, so I highly recommend it as one to add to your book of quick tricks :)

[tags]lemon, pound cake, Tish Boyle, The Cake Book, citrus, yoghurt, dessert[/tags]

And last of all – a final note to readers in Melbourne who are keen on attending the Melbourne Food & Wine Show! The competition for the 5 double passes will be drawn and announced tomorrow so tonight is your last chance to enter the draw :)


  1. that looks totally awesome!

  2. There is something about lemon poppy seed that is just so good! I don’t make them at home because I will eat it all before leaving the kitchen! :) So, I always grab the item with that combo first when I am out somewhere.

    Looks delicious, Ellie!

  3. Honestly, I haven’t tried the lemon/poppy seed combo. I don’t know where to get poppy seeds! It sounds amazingly refreshing, though. Especially with the yogurt glaze! Yummy yum yum. :)


  4. Yum! Except for the 14 tsp of salt! 😆

  5. These look fabulous! I can’t wait to try this and I have that book but don’t gravitate to it like I would like to. Great photos and Nice website too! Thanks much.

  6. It’s beautiful! I totally agree with you about the lemon. They smell so great and it’s good contrast to the sweetness of the cake. I don’t really like my cakes too sweet either.

  7. I don’t know why I’ve never thought of using yoghurt in the icing, but now that I think of it of course it would be delicious! And I love the lemony touch on cakes :)

  8. What a wonderful summer dessert. Love the icing!

  9. I made this and sent some of it to work with my husband. all the guys loved it and now I have been told I have to make more!

    It was so good, it didn’t last even half a day!
    Lili x

  10. i have a similar love for lemony desserts — i think i caught it from my mom

  11. These are gorgeous! Completely droolworthy :)

  12. I’m doing this cake on Sunday for Father’s Day, and I can’t wait to taste it! Lemon/poppy seeds is one of my favorite flavors, so thank you for this recipe!

  13. Just made these…epic! Thanks :) Looking forward to trying the lamb and potato ruby salad…

  14. These look great o go with some nice coffee in the morning. Amazing pictures! 😉

  15. christina says:

    I love this recipe, and I’m not even done making it. Trying to convert grams to cups was difficult, but the hardest part of this recipe (for someone in the U.S.) is figuring out what double cream is and what icing mixture is. I had also never heard of caster sugar. I found the answer to double cream, and it probably can’t be bought here outside of a specialty store; I used regular sugar instead of trying to grind it finer; but icing mixture eludes me. Am I just supposed to add water to powdered sugar? Here goes nothing!

  16. @Paula – Thanks hon :)

    @Chris – Thanks hon :) And I agree, it’s such a lovely combo! I’ve got a recipe for lemon & poppyseed cookies that I’m planning to put up soon :)

    @Wei-Wei – You should be able to buy them wherever they sell a good variety of spices and seeds :) You should try, it’s such a lovely combination!

    @LD – Whoops! That should’ve been a quarter and not fourteen 😛

    @Kathleen – Thanks hon! :)

    @Megan – I think citrus desserts and baked goods are so lovely, I love the acidity to offset the sweetness :)

    @Maria – The yoghurt makes a fabulous glaze :) Better than plain icing sugar!

    @Zesty – Thanks! :)

    @Lili – That is such a fabulous comment, I’m so glad you shared it with me 😛 I hope you don’t mind having to make more of it for your husband’s colleagues 😉

    @justcooknyc – They’re great, aren’t they?

    @Lori @ RecipeGirl – Thanks hon :)

    @Elle – My pleasure! I hope it went down well with your dad :)

    @David – So glad you enjoyed it! And thanks for letting me know 😀

    @Daniel @ The Food Addicts – They would be perfect with coffee I’d imagine (I don’t drink it but it does go down nicely with a cup of tea…)

    @christina – Icing mixture is confectioner’s sugar with an added starch (the brand I use has tapioca starch added) – it means you get the thickness without so much of the sweetness :) But plain confectioners/powdered sugar should work fine!

  17. Is cake flour just normal plain flour or SR flour?

    I’d love to try this on Saturday for afternoon tea!

  18. Frankie Jones Mrs says:

    please enrol me on you subscription list thank you and the poppy lemon cake is stunning and just the right consistency and one feels one is eating a cake and not airy startch.

  19. Hi

    I love the sound of this recipe but here in the UK we don’t use cups as standard measurements – can you specify either ml or grammes please? Many many thanks!

    S x

  20. This looks fantastic – can’t wait to try it.


  21. @Jessica – Cake flour is a low-protein version of plain flour :)

    @Frankie Jones Mrs – I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe :)

    @Sally P – Hi Sally, I can try the next time that I make this recipe but in the meantime I do know that you can purchase measuring cups over in the UK so that might be quicker and serve you better in the long run, rather than asking that every recipe you’re interested in online be converted to your convenience.

    @Sprinzette – I hope you do, as it’s a marvelous cake!

  22. I killed this cake. I made substitutions and it is turning out horribly. It looks like an oily mess and its not baking properly. I used regular flour, half the sugar was brown cuz I ran out, and milk instead of cream.

  23. THIS RECIPE WAS FABULOUS AND PERFECTLY EXPLAINED …BOOKMARKED FOREVER…One question!..I want to make this again…today, but I am fresh out of crème “double”…and wonder if I could possibly substitute crème fraîche for it..or would it throw everything off somewhat…I do not wish to denature your perfection lemon poppyseed “rèfèrence”!! My french husband and son decreed this the best version of said “gateau” they had ever tasted…Thank you so much for sharing your vast culinary creativity and expertise!

    • Hi Donna,

      I can’t take credit for this recipe as it comes from another author, but I’m glad you enjoyed it :) I believe creme fraiche would be a suitable substitution so long as the fat content is about 40% :)


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