With the snow melting and warmer weather, this weekend reminded me of the first few weeks of spring. Since I was in the mood for some springtime treats, I decided I wanted a lemony dessert.
I remembered to when I was a child and always loved to make (and eat!) lemon poppy seed muffins. It was this memory that inspired this lemon poppy seed coffee cake!
While I am not usually fond of cake for breakfast (that’s my inner dietitian speaking), coffee cake makes for an occasional sweet morning treat. It is also a great, moist and light cake for any time of day!
This light lemon cake is studded with poppy seeds, filled with a lemon sugar streusel, and topped with a puckering lemon glaze. All-together it makes a perfect lemon treat!
Begin the cake by creaming the room temperature butter and sugar. Beating the butter and sugar for a few minutes incorporates more air, and contributes to the light structure of the cake.
Then add the eggs, vanilla, sour cream, lemon zest, and poppy seeds.
Quick tip: To zest the lemons I love to use a microplane zester. If one is not available, peel the lemon with a peeler and mince the zest. Just be careful to avoid the white pith which is directly under the lemon skin. The pith can be bitter and we would not want this in our lemon cake!
In a small bowl mix the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Quick tip: If you do not have cake flour, you can substitute 2 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour and ¼ cup cornstarch. As a flour that is lower in protein, cake flour helps the cake develop a lighter, crumb texture.
With the mixer on low speed, as to not cover your kitchen in flour, add the flour mixture into the batter and mix until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix!
To make the streusel mix the all-purpose flour, brown sugar, salt, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Add the cubes of butter then the lemon juice. Mix with your fingers, almost as you are pinching the butter into the flour, until it resembles coarse sand.
Due to the extra lemon juice this mixture will be wet. But do not worry since it fits perfectly inside the cake. Place half of the cake batter into the greased bundt pan. Sprinkle with half of the streusel. Top it off with the remaining batter and streusel.
When placing the remaining batter in the pan, be sure to completely cover the streusel. Otherwise it will leak and caramelize onto the pan. While this tastes delicious, it causes a sticky mess that is harder to clean (I learned this from experience)!
Sift the confectioners sugar into a small bowl and mix with the lemon juice. Add more lemon juice or sugar as necessary to obtain the correct consistency.
It is important to sift the sugar for the glaze to ensure a smooth glossy finish. When the cake has cooled, invert it onto a serving dish and drizzle with the glaze. Serve and enjoy!
- 12 tablespoons (1 and ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 and ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 and ¼ cups sour cream , room temperature
- Zest of 3 lemons , reserve 1 tablespoon for streusel
- 1/3 cup poppy seeds
- 2 and ½ cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup light or dark brown sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cold and cubed
- 1 tablespoon reserved lemon zest
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a bundt pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs, then the vanilla, sour cream, lemon zest, and poppy seeds. Mix until combined.
In a small bowl whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour to the butter and egg mixture and mix until just combined.
Place the brown sugar, flour, lemon zest, and salt in a small bowl, mix until combined. Add the chilled butter and lemon juice. With your fingers cut the butter into the flour and sugar until it resembles coarse sand.
Place half of the cake batter in the bundt pan. Sprinkle with half of the streusel and top with remaining batter. Finish with the remaining streusel. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool cake on a wire rack. Once the cake has cooled, invert onto a serving dish.
In a small bowl, whisk the sifted confectioners sugar and lemon juice. Add more lemon juice or confectioners sugar, as necessary. Drizzle over cooled coffee cake. Serve and enjoy!
- If you do not have cake flour, you can use 2 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour and ¼ cup corn starch.
- For a thicker filling, sprinkle all of the streusel on top of half the batter, before topping with remaining cake batter.
- Adapted from ‘Barefoot Contessa Parties!’