Almond Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Tea CakeThis is another recipe that I found in my Tartine cookbook, but originally it is from Flo Braker’s The Simple Art of Perfect Baking. I planned on making this cake for years, but never seemed to get around to it.  First I didn’t have the poppy seeds on hand.  Then there always seemed to be another recipe that needed trying.  Then I was baking for the kids…and lemon/poppy seed/almond  didn’t quite suit their palettes.  Whatever it was, I never got around to making it until earlier this week.  Man, was that a mistake.

This is one of the most perfectly delicious and moist cakes I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting.  It is sublime.  Perfect with an afternoon cup of tea or coffee.  Or on its own when you need something to get your taste buds going.  It’s divine.  Even my kids agree, despite the lack of chocolate (which for them is typically a necessary ingredient in anything sweet).

One note:  You may be tempted to skip the last step of glazing the entire, warm cake in a citrus syrup – but don’t give in to temptation.  This step is an important aspect of the cake’s perfection.  It seals in the moisture and adds a tart citrus note to the rich, almond-flavored cake.  It takes 3 minutes and is more than worth every second of your time.

Almond Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

1 Large loaf, at least 8-10 servings

For the Cake:
3/4 cup/95 grams Pastry or cake flour
1/2 tsp/2 ml Baking powder
1/8 tsp/1/2 ml Salt
5 Large eggs
1 tsp/5 ml Vanilla extract
3/4 cup/200 grams Almond paste, at room temperature
1 cup/200 grams Sugar
1 cup/225 grams Unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp/5 ml Lemon zest, grated
1 tsp/5 ml Orange zest, grated
1/8 cup/20 grams Poppy seeds

For the Citrus Glaze:
3 tbsp/45 ml Lemon juice
3 tbsp/45 ml Orange juice
3/4 cup/150 grams Sugar

Powdered sugar to coat, optional

For the Cake:  Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350ºF/175ºC.  Lightly butter and flour an 8-1/2 inch tube pan or similar size loaf pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt – twice.  In a small bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla and whisk together until just combined.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste on low speed until it breaks up (up to a minute).  Slowly add the sugar in a steady stream, beating until incorporated.  Don’t go too quickly – you want this mixture to break up in the bowl.  Cut the butter into 1-tablespoon sized pieces (roughly) and on low speed, add the butter one piece at a time.  Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula before continuing.

Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  With the mixture still on medium, add the eggs in a very slow, steady stream and mix until incorporated.  Again, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides.  Turn on the mixer one last time and mix for another 30 seconds.

Add the citrus zest and poppy seeds; mixing in with a wooden spoon.  Lastly, add the flour mixture in 2 batches.  Stirring just until incorporated.  Then spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula if you have one.

Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched and a cake tester comes out clean, 40-45 minutes.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for roughly 5 minutes while you make the glaze.

For the Glaze:  It is important to make the glaze while the cake is resting and not before – so wait to do this step.  After the cake comes out of the oven, mix the juices with the sugar to dissolve the sugar.  Place the rack holding the cake over a sheet of foil or waxed paper to catch the drips of glaze and invert the cake onto the rack.  Brush the entire warm cake with the glaze, then let it cool completely on the rack.  Do not try to move it until completely cool because the cake is too fragile while it is warm. For added beauty and sweetness, dust the entire top with a coat of powdered sugar before serving.

This cake will keep well-wrapped for a week in the refrigerator and actually improves with age as the flavors mature and settle.


  1. You are right…I am tempted to skip the glazing….I don’t like glazing..too sweet…but you may have convinced me. Maybe!

    • You know that perfectly tart taste you sometimes are lucky enough to get with a really terrific lemon cookie or tart?… That’s what the glazing delivers, followed by the rich, moist almond-flavor of the cake. If you try it, let me know what you think!

  2. I couldn’t imagine skipping the glaze… YUM!

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