Lemon Poppy Loaf Cake

I’ve been meaning to make this Lemon Poppy Loaf Cake for a long time now, maybe a year or more. At the time I went to a local grocer to pick up some poppy seeds and couldn’t find any, I went to a couple more stores and still, not in stock. Mystified, when I got home I googled “poppy seeds Portland Oregon”, maybe there was a shortage? Well, I’m still not sure why I couldn’t find them at the time, but what I did discover is that people are making tea out of poppy seeds, for fun or pain relief, as the seeds contain opiates. Apparently it can make you quite sick as well.

And who can forget the Seinfeld where Elaine tests positive for drug use because she’s been eating poppy seed bagels everyday. Could something like that be true? It looks as if it’s possible. “…according to a 1998 study published in the Forensic Science International journal, eating two poppy-seed rolls with an average of about .76 grams of seeds each caused positive test results for up to six hours in one individual, ranging from 47.9 ng/ml to 832 ng/ml, depending on how long it had been since ingestion. And poppy-seed cake? The same study found that eating a slice (which contained an average of 4.69 grams of seeds) caused all four subjects to screen positive for up to 24 hours—four times as long as the rolls—citing one individual's results ranging between 83.8 ng/ml and 302.1 ng/ml.”

Ok, my whole cake has 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds, which comes out to 8 grams. I think they may have been talking about a different type of cake, like this old fashioned recipe for “Colonial Seed Cake” which contains a whopping 1/2 cup of poppy seeds! ah those were the days, she does say the recipe is from a magazine in the 70s, so I’ll leave it at that. 

Regardless of all of this, the cake is delicious, I based the recipe off of my Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Cake, made a few adjustments and I’m really pleased with how it came out. I love the recipe because you can tweak it and still get great results. Enjoy the cake (but not too much! ha ha)

Lemon Poppy Loaf Cake

  • 1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest, about 2 meyers lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds


Preheat oven to 350°. Grease loaf pan, line the bottom and longer sides with parchment paper and grease the parchment with butter.

In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt and mix together, then stir the poppyseeds in the flour mixture. In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla until well combined. Stir the flour mixture into the liquid mixture until incorporated. Fold in the melted butter with a rubber spatula and mix until thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter in the the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, checking at the 50 minute mark until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean in center.

Remove from oven to baking rack and cool for about 10 minutes leaving it in the pan, remove cake from pan with the parchment handles and let cool another 10 minutes or so until just warm.