Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

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I forget.

I sometimes forget that we have a thing here.  A thing that’s more of a weird Internet friendship than a simple fling.  Forgive my forgetting.

I’ve gotten a lot of urgent emails and tweets and random Internet shouts about why why why WHY I picked up and moved my little world to New Orleans.  (I also respect the fact that some of you couldn’t care less… that’s cool.)

The answer is probably far less exciting that you’d like it to be.  I moved from California to New Orleans because I wanted to.  I wanted a change in place, a jolt of inspiration, more crawfish on my plate, adventure.  I wanted to feel out of my element and get to know a new place.  New Orleans, with its little bit of magic, seems like the place my heart wants to be.  So… this is that!

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

Can I be honest with you about something?  The more people asked me why I was moving to New Orleans, the more I wanted to hold that information close and keep it to myself.  I try to keep a balance of what I share with the big wide Internet (with its supporters and haters) and what I keep to myself.  Mostly I’m trying to protect you from things like… my weird love for One Direction and all those times I feel too many feelings.

I’ve created a place where I can share, where we can share, where we can hang out and bake together.  Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want all of the nitty-gritty.  I just forget that sometimes I have to explain myself. It totally makes sense that you would want to know the why.  (Again, it also makes sense if you don’t give a care.)

Anyhow… I’m still trying to figure this whole ‘sharing on the Internet’ thing out… six years into the game.

At least now you know the not terribly interesting reason I moved to New Orleans.  Did I mention the crawfish?  That has a lot to do with it.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

I’m still figuring out how I want to photograph in my new space, I’m learning the quirks of my new oven (which are many), and I’m trying to figure out if there’s a single surface that my cat can’t jump on.  I appreciate that you’re along for that ride.

Learning curve: steep.  Still there’s cake.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

Oh, all the flavors we can pull from a lemon.

Lemon zest is rubbed together with the granulated sugar for this pound cake.  The essential oils really add a kick of lemon.  Definitely don’t skip the lemon + sugar rub down.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

When our newly crafted lemon sugar, we cream butter into the most lovely, sweet and whipped cake fat.

It’s not called pound cake because it’s fat free.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

The batter has some body!  It’s not all the way dense, but it’s a thick (not pourable) batter.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

I have a thing against springform pans.  I’m fully against them where cheesecake and water-baths are involved.  You want me to wrap this pan in foil in order to bake a cake and it’s not going to work and I’m going to have a soggy cheesecake that I had to wait a full day to eat!? NO.

I’ve been burned (not literally) by the unreliable springform pan one too many times.

BUT!  For making a thick batter pound cake… springform and I are friends again.

A regular 9-inch round cake pan will also work very well, and will save you lots of feelings and emotions.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

Our simple, single layer cake.  It smells soooo good!  Scratch and sniff, you wish.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

While the cake was baking, I whipped up a simple buttercream.

You know the deal… butter and powdered sugar, lemon juice for continuity, salt for balance, and poppy seeds because we’re fancy.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

You know what’s nice?  Just letting it be a single layer cake.  Not fuss about stacking and frosting the sides.  Just a tender and sweet lemon pound cake with a generous layer of creamy frosting.

The poppy seeds add a nice crunch.  If you’re feeling extra poppy, feel free to add an additional tablespoon to the cake batter.

This cake is not light and fluffy like a lemon layer cake.  The crumb is a bit more dense, but still soft and moist.  Take care not to over bake the sucker.  There are some crimes that even buttercream can’t hide.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

makes 1 single layer 9-inch cake

adapted from The Joy of Baking

Print this Recipe!

For the Cake: 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

zest of 1 large lemon

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod discarded (or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

For the Buttercream: 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

splash of milk or cream as needed for consistency

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan.  If you don’t have a springform pan, a regular 9-inch cake pan will also be fine.  Just make sure that the cake pan has high sides (3-inches or so).  Set aside the greased pan.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using an electric hand mixer) beat the butter until pliable and soft, about 1 minute.

In a small bowl toss together sugar and lemon zest using the back of a small spoon.  The sugar will become moist and super fragrant.

Add the sugar to the butter and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Mixture will be pale in color.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Beat in the vanilla extract once all of the eggs are mixed in.  The batter may look curdled.  That’s ok!

Add the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Beat on low speed until almost incorporated.  Add the lemon juice and beat to combine.  Stop the mixer and finish combining the batter with a wooden spoon or spatula.  Scrape down the bottom of the bowl to make sure you’ve completely incorporated all of the ingredients.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth.  Allow to bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, cream together the butter, 2 cups of powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.  Beat on medium-ugh until smooth and creamy.  Add up to a cup more powdered sugar to thicken the consistency.  Add a splash of milk or cream for a thinner consistency.  I prefer my buttercream not too thick as to not tear the cake when frosting.  Once you get your consistency where you’d like it, beat in the poppy seeds.  Add a touch of yellow food die if you’d like.

Spoon and spread the buttercream over the completely cooled cake.  Don’t worry about frosting the sides.  Leave them bare.  Allow the cake the rest in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.  Cake will last, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to 4 days.  

155 thoughts on “Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

  1. I miss the LA sun in your photos (WI sun just isn’t the same, somehow). your love for New Orleans runs deep and as a long time reader, it wasn’t a surprising move to me. thanks for sharing what you wanted us to know! excited to see the magical things that come from your new kitchen. love!

  2. Hey Joy. I may have been one of those people who asked. I maaay have even been that crazy caller.. (Who knew that calling into the podcast would be THAT nerve-wracking? Not me.) Wait, that’s really the reason? That’s it?? haha Okay cool, I’m still really glad you shared. This is super dramatic, but I almost felt as though I couldn’t read your blog with a clear mind until I understood. It just felt incomplete. We’ve totally become weird internet friends, who don’t actually speak, so thanks for filling me in.

    1. Lesly! thank you so much for calling into the podcast! i listened to your call and was like… yea, totally! then i closed up like a clam shell. i’m glad you’re feeling more satisfied and we can go on as internet friends. that’s totally a real thing, and i respect it! big love to you!

  3. You are so brave to and adventurous to move across the country and I admire and envy you. I’ve moved like that before and I would love to do it again. I hope I will be able to. Also, I have a perfect lemon cake recipe but I might have to cheat on it….
    Many hugs to you from Switzerland,

  4. What an exciting time in your life that you can just pick up and move to try a new place. I did that, over a decade ago, and it was such an adventure. Now I’m kind of stuck with roots and such, but I remember fondly the feeling of anticipation that came with a new city, a new state, and a whole different way of life. And the cake? Well, it looks fabulous. And easy enough that I might be able to do it without screwing it up. Maybe.

  5. I’m a newbie to your blog, did wonder why you moved, thought I had missed a post or something. But hey your perogative if you tell or not; dont feel obliged to share everything.

    Any hoo this cake sounds glorious, so going to make it this weekend. Yum .

  6. “There are some crimes that even buttercream can’t hide.” This is my favourite. I recently made a batch of cupcakes that involved doing 1.5 times a recipe which my brain couldn’t quite handle. The end result was I missed a cup of sugar… all the buttercream in the world wasn’t going to fix them.

  7. Congratulations on the move to New Orleans! From a recent transplant to New Orleans, it does take a bit of an adjustment to get accustomed to the rhythm of the city. I had folks questioning my move too. When you get a chance, I hope you are able to check out Hollygrove Market – super wonderful spot on the other side of town from you!

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