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A dense, luscious treat, this lemon poppy seed bread can be pulled together in no time! Make it for a weekend brunch, a potluck, or for a slice of something delicious to enjoy next to your morning coffee.
Breakfast cakes are in a world of their own, aren’t they? While I may try to only have dessert once a week, I can TOTALLY enjoy a breakfast cake (of some sort) each morning without blinking an eye. Maybe it’s because breakfast cakes are really easy to portion. Maybe it’s because they go so well with a cup of coffee. Or maybe it’s because I know I’m going to need the fuel for a slam-packed day, but goodness, I can get behind a breakfast cake.
Some of my favorite breakfast cakes include: blueberry scones, cinnamon coffee cake, and this oh-so-awesome pumpkin spiced coffee bundt cake with a cold brew icing.
Today’s breakfast cake is also an anytime cake. It’s a Mother’s Day cake, a “gosh, I’m awesome and I deserve this” cake, and an “I can’t refuse anything with lemon” cake.
Why is this the best lemon poppy seed bread?
If we’re claiming that this lemon poppy seed bread is the *best*, we’ve got to have some evidence to back that up, right?! Here’s why we think this loaf is the best around:
- It’s luscious – this lemon poppy seed loaf has a secret ingredient (cream cheese!) that adds weight, body, and a luscious texture that you won’t find in most quick breads.
- It’s perfectly textured – it has the perfect texture – moist, not too dense, with a perfect crumb.
- It has the yummiest lemon glaze – the lemon glaze is insanely delicious and really takes this bread over the top!
- It’s allergen-friendly – this cake can be made gluten and dairy-free with a few simple swaps!
At first glance, this list may look long, but truly, it’s filled with super simple ingredients that can be found in your local grocery store (and maybe even your pantry/fridge)! Here’s what you’ll need:
For the Loaf
- Gluten Free Flour – to start, you’ll need 2 cups of gluten free flour. We always use King Arthur’s Measure for Measure GF flour when baking!
- Baking Powder – in addition to the flour, you’ll also need 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
- Sea Salt – a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt will also go into the batter.
- Lemon Zest – 1 tablespoon of lemon zest is responsible for this bread’s subtle brightness.
- Poppy seeds – what is a lemon cake without poppy seeds?! We’ll use 1 teaspoon here.
- Butter – you’ll also need 1 cup of room temperature unsalted butter.
- Cream Cheese – ready for the secret ingredient?! 2 ounces of softened cream cheese is the STAR of the show here.
- Vanilla Extract – 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract helps to round out the loaf.
- Coconut Sugar or white – 1 ½ cups of sugar sweetens the bread beautifully. We opted for coconut sugar here because it really adds a lovely brown sugar-like flavor to a baked good. The reason this cake has a lovely brown color is because of the coconut sugar! If you prefer regular granulated sugar though, go for it!
- Eggs – 5 large eggs will bind everything together!
For the Glaze
- Powdered Sugar – now for the glaze! We’ll start with a ½ cup of powdered sugar.
- Poppy Seeds – you’ll also need a 1/2 teaspoon of poppy seeds.
- Lemon Juice – 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice brightens the glaze and adds that classic lemon flavor.
- Lemon Zest – 1 teaspoon of lemon zest finishes it all off!
How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf
While baked goods can sometimes feel a little bit tricky, this one is actually quite simple to pull together. Here’s how you’ll do it:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Whisk together the flour, zest, poppy seeds, and salt – in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, poppy seeds, and sea salt.
- Beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla – add the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract to a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes until fully combined and fluffy.
- Add the coconut sugar + eggs – add the coconut sugar to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix for an additional minute, then beat in the eggs.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture – add the flour mixture to the butter mixture a ½ cup at a time, mixing thoroughly with each addition.
- Line or grease, and fill the loaf pan – line a loaf pan with parchment paper, or grease with butter, then pour batter into the pan.
- Bake – bake the lemon poppy seed bread for 50-55 minutes, until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Then, let the bread cool for at least one hour.
- Make the glaze + serve – in a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, poppy seeds, and lemon juice. Pour the glaze over the bread, sprinkle with lemon zest, slice, and serve!
How to Zest a Lemon
First off, you’ll need to grab a zester if you don’t already have one. To zest with your zester, simply wash your lemon (since you’ll be consuming the zested rind!), and then, holding the lemon in one hand and the zester in the other, move the lemon up and down the zester (very similar to how you’d shred cheese), until you have the amount of zest you’re looking for!
How to Store
This bread keeps best in an airtight container either on the counter or in the refrigerator! Stored this way, it’ll stay fresh for 4-5 days.
Can I make this gluten-free?
Yes! Actually, the recipe is gluten-free as written, so as long as you’re using the ingredients we call for, it’ll definitely be gluten-free.
Can I make this dairy-free?
You can! To make this one dairy-free, simply swap the cream cheese for Kite Hill dairy-free cream cheese and the butter for ghee or coconut oil.
Can I omit poppyseeds?
You can! Omitting the poppy seeds won’t change the end product at all.
We hope you enjoy this bright, beautifully textured lemon poppy seed bread next to a hot cup of coffee (or a mimosa!).
For the Pound Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, poppy seeds, and sea salt.
- Add the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract to a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes until fully combined and fluffy.
- Add the coconut sugar to the bowl and mix for an additional minute, then beat in the eggs.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly.
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, or grease with butter, then fill with the batter. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
- Let the bread cool for at least one hour, then make the glaze. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, poppy seeds, and lemon juice. Pour the glaze over the bread, sprinkle with lemon zest, slice, and serve!
- For Dairy-Free: substitute coconut oil for the butter and Kite Hill almond cream cheese for the cream cheese.