Lemony Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake

Lemony Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake
This poppy seed cake has a full 3/4 cup of poppy seeds & lots of lemon juice & lemon zest.

I love how recipes can often remind you of things long forgotten.

This is one of those recipes. It takes me back to when I was about four and my twin brother and I went to junior high school for a day with our neighbour, Valerie. We were part of her Home Ec class where I suppose they were learning about childcare.
I have vivid memories of that day. Not the school bit, surprisingly, but of getting ready to go in the early morning, and walking to the bus stop in the dark. (Mom said I thought it was the middle of the night).
It was exciting too…my first time on a school bus.

Lemony Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake
This recipe has always reminded me of Valerie and her family. They have Ukrainian roots and cooked things like pedaha (Ukrainian pierogis.) Even the recipe illustrations in the book remind me of a big rock on her front lawn that was painted with flowers, a rock we loved to play on. 

This is a lovely cake made extra flavourful with a generous amount of poppy seeds. The texture is outstanding and the bright lemon flavours are beautiful. It needs nothing but a dusting of icing sugar to serve. 

The recipe is from one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen. It was one of my very first cookbooks and I have cooked more from it than any other cookbook I own.

Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake


  • ¾ cup poppy seeds
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar (white or light brown)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and butter and flour a 10” tube pan.
  2. Place poppy seeds and milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time.
  4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mixing by hand add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with the poppy seed mixture (beginning and ending with the dry.)
  5. Stir until almost combined then add the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  6. Spread batter in the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. 




  1. love your recipe


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