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Lemon Poppy Seed Layer Cake | lifemadesimplebakes.com
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4.83 from 17 votes

Lemon Poppy Seed Layer Cake Recipe

This luscious, lemon poppy seed layer cake is filled with sweet lemon curd and a delicious pastry cream. You'll be whipping this up all spring long!
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Cakes & Cheesecakes
Cuisine: American
Servings: 14 servings
Calories: 533kcal


For the Lemon Curd

  • 1/2 cup meyer lemon juice
  • 1 tsp meyer lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch kosher sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tbsp butter cubed

For the Pastry Cream

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp kosher sea salt
  • 2 cup half and half
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp meyer lemon juice
  • 2 tsp meyer lemon zest finely grated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract OR vanilla bean paste

For the Cake

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp meyer lemon juice fresh
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp meyer lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt room temperature

For the Garnish

  • 1 meyer lemon sliced
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh mint


For the Lemon Curd

  • In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, zest, sugar and eggs, set over low heat. Add the butter and continue whisking until it melts. Let the mixture cook until it thickens, about 8 minutes, then turn heat up to medium-high and continue cooking for 2-4 minutes or until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees. Transfer to a bowl, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd and refrigerate.

For the Pastry Cream

  • Place mesh strainer over medium bowl; set aside.
  • In separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt; set aside. Place half and half and in a medium saucepan. Set over medium heat, stirring occasionally just until it bubbles. Gradually pour the hot half and half into egg yolk mixture, whisking vigorously (temper the eggs). Gradually pour the mixture back into the sauce pan. Whisk constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Whisk for an additional minute.
  • Pour the cooked cream into the strainer, whisking to force it through. Whisk in the butter, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest into the hot cream. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of cream and refrigerate.

For the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of three 8 or 9-inch pans with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, baking sodam and salt; set aside.
  • Turn mixing speed to low, add the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat until combined. Gradually alternate adding the dry ingredients and the yogurt, mixing just until combined.
  • In a clean mixing bowl, with a whisk attachment, whip egg whites and remaining cup of sugar until they reach stiff peaks. Fold the meringue into batter until just combined. Divide the batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Place the two pans into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched. DO NOT OVER-BAKE. Bake the final cake layer. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto wire racks.

To Assemble the Cake

  • Place one layer of cooled cake onto a platter or cake stand. Add spread 1/3 of the pastry cream over top, then 1/3 of the lemon curd. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Level the top then scrape any excess cream/curd from the sides onto the outer crust of the cake. This will create a glaze over it and will give it the look of a "naked" cake, or one that's not completely "frosted."
  • Garnish with slices of meyer lemon, poppy seeds and sprigs of fresh mint, if desired. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour before slicing and serving.


-I used meyer lemons instead of regular lemons for this recipe, because I love the sweetness they add. However, regular lemons can be used.
-I used a kitchen scale to accurately divide the batter between the three pans. You can definitely eyeball it too :)


Serving: 14g | Calories: 533kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 236mg | Sodium: 279mg | Potassium: 143mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 45g | Vitamin A: 940IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 2mg