Rich Lemon Curd and Poppy Seed Cake - really close up view of cake and slice

Rich Lemon Curd and Poppy Seed Cake

Rich Lemon Curd and Poppy Seed Cake - close up view of cake and slice

If I had to pick a favourite cake for my birthday, this Rich Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Cake would be it. Lemon curd fills the middle of each buttery poppy seed cake layer. Then, the whole thing is iced with a lemon zest infused icing.

Bright and zesty, rich and layered – this really is my dream cake. Read on for the recipe.

Rich Lemon Curd and Poppy Seed Cake - full cake view

Rich Lemon Curd and Poppy Seed Cake

Time: 90 minutes

Yield: 10 – 12 servings

Equipment: Stand Mixer, 7-inch cake tins, parchment paper, saucepan, dental floss, icing spreader

For the cake:

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1⅓ cups butter, softened
  • 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla 
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup poppy seeds

For the filling:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup butter

For the icing:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups sifted icing sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon rind
  • ¼ cup half and half cream
  • Additional lemon zest swirls for decoration

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉ and butter and line the cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until creamy – about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy – 2 to 3 more minutes.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating well after each addition. 
  6. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and beat until smooth. Fold in the poppy seeds.
  7. Spread the batter evenly between the 2 cake pans and place on the middle rack in the oven for 35 – 45 minutes.
  8. Remove and cool 10 minutes before turning the cakes out onto a rack to cool completely.

For the lemon curd filling:

Tip: You can make this a few days ahead if you like. And, I’ll admit, sometimes I skip this step and substitute a store-bought lemon curd. I just make sure it’s a really good one!

  1. Beat the eggs, juice, rind and sugar together in a small saucepan, add the butter and cook over low heat until, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  2. Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

For the icing:

  1. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until creamy.
  2. Add half the icing sugar and the lemon juice and rind and beat until smooth, repeat with the remaining icing sugar and cream and beat until fluffy.


  1. Cut the cakes in half horizontally by grasping a piece of dental floss tautly and pulling it through the cakes midline.
  2. Spread the lemon curd filling between the cake halves and reassemble them.
  3. Place one cake on a plate and ice the centre before stacking the second cake on top. Ice the sides and top with the icing.
  4. Decorate with additional lemon zest swirls.

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