Poppyseed Cake with Lemon Zest

Source:  Beerli Family cir. 2000

Poppyseed cake

Poppyseed cake with Lemon zest

Before we get into the poppyseed cake with lemon zest let look at the history. The poppy seed has a long, dark history that is dated back to the B.C. eras. Discovered early on in ancient civilizations, the poppy seed was typically used for its calming, sedative effect it had. The ancient Greeks used these seeds as a pain reliever. Moreover, it was used on babies to soothe their discomforts. Soon becoming one of the popularly traded items on the “Silk Road”, it was a seed that quickly became in demand. The interesting effects of poppy seeds fed the dependence of China’s tea to the British, while the British used and traded poppy seeds to China which began China’s deep addiction to this opium drug.

Thankfully, the use of poppy seeds solely for medicinal and drug purposes shifted and moved into a culinary delight. You’ll mostly see poppy seeds on the tops of breads and rolls, in a nut-roll in paste form, and of course in cakes. This lovely recipe was a family one. It’s a very light and delicate cake that has no self or added rising ingredients, so the preparation is everything. Folding the stiff egg white mixture into the dry flour mixture is the real key. I think this cake makes a lovely delicate addition to anyone’s menu. One thing is for sure, it only takes one taste of this cake to remember it’s light, airy qualities forever.

Poppyseed Cake with Lemon Zest

 A most memorable cake.
Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Keyword Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 10 people


US measures

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 8 whole egg yolks eggs should be large. double up if eggs are small
  • 1 large egg large
  • 2 tbs lemon zest from 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 sticks butter 1/2 pound, or 230 grams, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup poppy seeds


  • 150 gr sugar
  • 8 whole egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 EL lemon zest
  • 75 gr flour
  • 75 gr corn starch
  • 1 pinch salt Priese
  • 230 gr butter
  • 75 gr poppy seeds


  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a fluted bunt pan. Take the time and do this step thoroughly. Due to the lightness of the cake, it will ruin if not oiled and floured well.
  • In your mixer bowl, combine the egg yolks, whole egg and sugar and whip together on high, until it’s pale yellow and nice and fluffy. approx. 5-8 min.
  • nice and well combined.
  • Add your lemon zest
  • Sift flour and cornstarch mixture
  • Combine dry mixture to wet by gently folding in using a spatula
  • melt the butter and let stand for a few minutes to slightly cool
  • On medium speed, beet in the butter, then add the poppy seeds and combine
  • Pour mixture into cake pan and bake for 45 minutes. It has been noted on previous recipes to cover the pan with a sheet of foil to avoid burning. I do not do this step, but you can try it to see if the method works for you. When the cake is cooked to completion, the test needle should come out clean.
  • Let stand for 10 min. on cooling rack, then flip and when cool, sprinkle with powder sugar.
    Poppyseed cake
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