Lemon Almond Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Crème Fraiche Glaze

DSC_0855aHappy New Year everyone! Here’s a sweet treat to send you into 2013, a virtual hug from me to you. This is a very easy, very delicious cake. My oven’s finally been repaired (hurrah!) and I wanted to test it with something fairly forgiving. It’s the perfect “I want cake right now!” or “Crap! I’ve got company coming and nothing to feed them!” cake, since it’s ready in 75 minutes or less.

This cake is a very modest riff on the classic lemon poppy seed cake. I’m a recent convert to olive oil cakes; they have the most wonderfully delicate, fluffy crumb, and you don’t have to bother with whipping butter until it’s fluffy or any other such nonsense. I’ve also added ground almonds and almond extract to the cake batter, which gives a hint of almond, enough to give the crust an amaretti-biscuit sweetness, without being cloying. The gooey crème fraiche glaze is optional – omit it and you’ve got a lovely tea cake that is entirely dairy-free. I quite like it, though. Bring on the sticky!

When I used to do trial-level public defense work, the most common excuse offered by my clients who were arrested on probation violations based on heroin metabolites in their urine was, “I ate a poppy seed bagel.” The best thing about this excuse is that it is LEGITIMATE. Apparently, even one poppy seed bagel can cause a false positive drug test result. So, I suppose, exercise caution when baking this cake if you are subject to regular urinalysis testing, as it contains two whole tablespoons of poppy seeds, or be prepared to offer whoever is testing you a piece of cake. (This is called neutralizing your adversary.) Happy New Year! DSC_0820a


**Recipe measurements appear both in US cups and metric to accommodate readers from anywhere.  If you’re confused about anything, please don’t hesitate to drop me a note and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

For the cake

1.5 cups (200 grams) plain flour, sifted (all-purpose flour), plus a little extra for the cake pan

½ cup (40 grams) finely-ground almonds

1 and 2/3 cup (320 grams) caster sugar

4 medium eggs

2/3 cup (150 ml) olive oil (use something mild and fruity)

Zest and juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze

4/5 cup (100 grams) icing sugar (powdered sugar)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons crème fraiche


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees Celsius). Grease a bundt cake or other ring mold with a little olive oil, dust with flour, and set aside.

Combine the flour, ground almonds, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs together with the olive oil, sugar, lemon juice, poppy seeds, and extracts until thoroughly combined and sugar has dissolved. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula.

Pour batter into your prepared cake pan, and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out dry. Loosen edges gently with a thin sharp knife and turn out onto a rack to cool.

While the cake is cooling, make your glaze by combining the icing sugar, lemon juice, and crème fraiche and whisking until creamy and smooth. Pour over the cake.

Makes 10-12 servings.

25 thoughts on “Lemon Almond Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Crème Fraiche Glaze

  1. I love this recipe! I recently bought a container of poppy seeds and have yet to use them yet. Since it’s once again citrus season, I think this bundt will be on the top of my list. I’ve also not made an olive oil cake, so I can’t wait to experiment. Hope you had a great holiday!

  2. Lemon, almonds, poppy seeds, crème fraiche AND olive oil? You got me! And thankfully my little law firm (given that I’m mostly in charge) doesn’t do any drug testing, so I can have a couple of pieces.

  3. For an emergency cake, it looks pretty awesome. My emergency cakes don’t usually have a well-formed shape, and very likely involve the blender; tastes good enough most of the time though heh.

    A virtual hug back, happy new year susan!

  4. I adore olive oil cakes! My favorite version is with rosemary and sea salt, but I will gladly trade a slice of that for a slice of this!

    Of course, only after my heroin bender 😉 That way I can claim that it was just the cake!


    • I love the descriptive use of the word “compost!” Isn’t olive oil miraculous? It makes cakes so soft and fluffy. I’m so glad you liked it! 🙂

  5. Ok so I’ve been on the search for the PERFECT lemon cake. I’ve tried countless recipes (and made my own changes). This one will be next on my list in my search for the perfect lemon cake!

  6. Pingback: Lemon Poppyseed Muffins | My Baking Empire

  7. Thanks. Good recipe. I can make this one plain or gluten free and both taste quite close. Enjoyed the law stories. Here is a link to my painting which is about legal/politics AND cakes. Thanks for the recipe. Carl

      • Hi Susan, I make up a single portion of gluten free flour as I made it up myself. Then I take the cup and half from this jar. for your cake recipe. My gluten free flour mix pretty simple, just: 2 cups of white rice flour, 1 cup of corn flour, 1 cup of potato flour, 1 cup of tapioca flour and 3 teaspoons of Xanthan gum all sifted 3 times, then keep in a jar and use as needed (for pastries I add half a cup of Psyllium husk to get a glutinous feel). For my version of your lemon cake I added (perhaps destroying your perfect balance sorry) 3/4 cup of sultanas soaked in rum for 4 hours, which is just for my taste and also to keep the cake better during intense hot Australian summers (yesterday was 41 degrees C). Anyway, thanks and enjoy. Carl

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