Glazed Lemon-Thyme Poppy Seed Cake

Glazed Lemon-Thyme Poppy Seed Cake sliced on cutting board
Glazed Lemon-Thyme Poppyseed Cake

With an alluring fragrance of thyme mixed with the fresh taste of lemon and the perfect bit of crunch from the poppy seeds, this Glazed Lemon-Thyme Poppy Seed Cake provides a wonderful sensory experience with each bite.

Lemon-Thyme Poppy Seed Cake
Makes 2 (8x5-inch) loaves
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  1. 2 cups (454 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1¾ cups (350 grams) granulated sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons (18 grams) poppy seeds
  4. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  5. 4 large eggs
  6. 1¾ cups (219 grams) all-purpose flour
  7. 2 cups (200 grams) cake flour
  8. 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
  9. ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  10. 1 cup whole buttermilk
  11. 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  12. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  13. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  14. Lemon Glaze (recipe follows)
  15. Garnish: chopped fresh thyme, lemon slices
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 (8x5-inch) loaf pans with baking spray with flour.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer at medium speed until creamy, about 6 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add poppy seeds and thyme, beating until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt twice. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Divide batter between prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. Cover loosely with foil, and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 45 minutes more. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks. Place parchment paper under racks, and pour Lemon Glaze over loaves. Garnish with thyme and lemon slices, if desired.
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Lemon Glaze
Makes about 1¼ cups
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  1. 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (127 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  2. ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  1. IIn a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Use immediately.
Bake from Scratch
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  1. I want to review the recipe for the “Grand Marnier Poppy Seed Cake” from this month’s edition, but it doesn’t show up in search. It is terrible. I am an intermediate cook, subscriber to (and fan of) Cook’s Illustrated, America’s Test Kitchen. I am at ease with most recipes. This one wasn’t complicated. As I type, the cake (loaf) is 20 mins. over the prescribed bake time and still very wet in the center, approaching charred around the edges. I am a new subscriber to BAKE from scratch and if this result is indicative of their testing/recipes, I will be very disappointed.

    • Hi Lisa, we are so sorry for your frustration! We are checking with our recipe developer on this. Can you please provide an email address so we can contact you with our troubleshooting results?

    • Hi Lisa, thanks for reaching out. We are so sorry for your troubles with this recipe. We did retest it, and while the proportions were correct, there are a few notes that were left out of the procedure that could have affected your outcome. In Step 1, when removing orange slices from the sheet of parchment paper, be sure to let excess syrup drain off before adding to loaf (this will prevent that extra liquid from making your cake too wet). In Step 4, bake for 30 minutes, and then cover with foil. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The foil will keep those edges from burning. We are so sorry for any inconvenience this recipe may have caused, and thank you for your patience as we retested. The updated recipe has been posted and can be found here:

    • Hi Mina, our recipe developers retested this recipe, and the amount of butter printed is correct. This recipe makes two loaves that are very rich and moist, which is where the high amount of butter comes in. Let us know if it gives you any trouble and we’d love to help troubleshoot!

  2. I made this cake from the recipe printed in the summer 2016 magazine. It was a complete disaster. I then looked up your website to see if any correction had been made to the printed version, and here found a completely different recipe! Same picture, same name, different proportions of everything. What is going on?!

    • Hi Kara, we apologize for your frustration with this recipe. After our Bake from Scratch Cake special issue was printed, we discovered that a mistake made it into this recipe. (Cake flour was left out.) One of our test kitchen professionals immediately retested the recipe, and any proportion edits to the original recipe were made during retesting to ensure the best results. We then posted the correct, most updated version of this recipe here on the website, and also printed it in our annual Bake from Scratch cookbook, which includes the correct, updated versions of all of our recipes from the past year.

      Feel free to reference the “Recipe Corrections” tab on our website at the following link, where we list every recipe error that makes it into our print issues in order to be as transparent as possible:

      Please know that we do strive for excellence with every recipe we develop. We have a very talented test kitchen, and our recipes go through several sessions of proofing before they are published, but we are human and, unfortunately, make mistakes. We know it’s frustrating to spend time and money baking a recipe, only to have it not turn out. We apologize for the mistake.

    • Teri,

      Thank you for reaching out! Yes, this bread can be frozen. We do recommend letting it thaw out before re-heating in the oven. Of course after freezing it, it will not be as fresh but should still be delicious!
      Happy Baking!

  3. This recipe is fantastic! I brought both loaves to work and they were gone in a flash. It was moist and delicious and the thyme added a wonderful note to the cake.

    • So, this is coming from someone who has tried the recipe both ways and not just relying on conversion charts. The first time I made this recipe we used the loaf pans. I only have one loaf pan at my current location, so I had to bake twice and they came out uneven heights because I had no way to be certain I was dividing equally — but both came out amazing.

      I tried to get a second loaf pan before making it the next two times, but locally, with the pandemic and everything, I was unable to get one. So I went with the Bundt pan….

      My personal answer to your question is both yes and no….. the cake came out of the Bundt pan just fine, and it’s still good — but not amazing. Cooking till it was properly done in the center, trying different times with when I added the foil to the top, left the outer parts more dry and crumbly — and far less flavorful. If I had an expense account and a test kitchen I might keep trying, but as things stand, I won’t try again. This cake was so amazing in the loaves and I don’t want to waste my time of resources on more versions that might just be “meh.” HTH.


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