Moving along our list of classic recipes we want to veganize, today we’re making Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cake!
Almost 2 years ago I began working on this recipe. I tested it over and over and over again. I tested it so many times that once it was perfect I could not make myself bake another lemon poppy seed cake. Not even once more so I could post the recipe here. I could not do it.
This past year I’ve been thinking to myself, “Man, I need to try that recipe again so I can post it to the blog!”. Finally, last week I decided to pull out the recipe and try baking it again. Oh my goodness. This lemon poppy seed cake is so so good! I was so ready to post it! I’d be doing you, my readers, a huge injustice if I didn’t share this recipe.
This vegan lemon poppy seed cake is everything you’d expect it to be. It’s moist, light, sweet, and zipping with tangy lemon flavour. I topped it with a bright, sweet and lemon-y glaze flecked with lemon zest. The glaze soaks right into the cake and makes the taste and texture downright sinful. If vegan lemon poppy seed cake is your thing, then you need to make this recipe. Right now. Go out and grab some lemons and poppy seeds and make this cake right now. (But if you're getting up and leaving the house to grab ingredients right this second... You might need chia seeds, coconut oil, and icing sugar too… Everything else is your typical baking stuff. But scroll all the way down to check the ingredients, just in case…)
Back to the recipe! I’d find any excuse to enjoy lemon poppy seed cake. You can make this veganized version for a light dessert, afternoon tea, or for decadent breakfasts. It would make for a nice treat inside a packed lunch too!
We're going to use chia seeds instead of eggs for this veganized lemon poppy seed cake. No one will notice the chia seeds because they’re camouflaged by the poppy seeds. We’ll swap butter for coconut oil too. Voila! Lemon poppy seed cake, veganized! There isn’t much coconut oil in this recipe, but if you dislike coconut, choose a refined coconut oil to avoid any trace of coconut flavour.
This recipe is super easy to make. The prep takes about 15 minutes and the cake bakes for about 35 minutes.
The sweet lemon glaze is very simple and requires just 3 ingredients. The glaze soaks into the cake and makes it extra moist, extra sweet, and extra lemon-y. It’s irresistible!
As an alternative, you can buck tradition and top this cake with streusel instead. It’s a delicious twist on your typical lemon poppy seed cake and adds a touch of crunch. If you want something a little less sweet you can omit the glaze all together.
This recipe is great to make ahead of time. It’s freezer-friendly but it would last a few days without freezing (if you don't enjoy it all by then!). You could freeze it in slices to thaw and enjoy a piece at a time. I hope you love this lemon poppy seed cake as much as we do!
This isn't our first Lemon Poppy Seed Recipe! Check out our Lemon Poppy Seed Scones and our Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes!
Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 1 loaf 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Vegan
This vegan lemon poppy seed cake is moist, light, and zipping with tangy lemon flavour. The cake is topped with a sweet lemon zest flecked glaze.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake:
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) (10 g) chia seeds
- ¾ cup (185 ml) soymilk
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) (75 g) coconut oil, soft (at room temperature)
- ⅔ cups (160 ml) (145 g) granulated sugar
- 1 ⅓ cups (330 ml) (180 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp (7.5 ml) baking powder
- ¼ tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda
- ¼ tsp (1.25 ml) salt
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) (11 g) poppy seeds
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) (16 g) lemon zest
- ⅔ cup (160 ml) (100 g) icing sugar
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
- ½ tbsp (7.5 ml) (4 g) lemon zest
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180 °C).
- Whisk together chia seeds, soy milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Set aside to thicken.
- Cream together coconut oil and sugar.
- Add the thickened chia seed mixture to the creamed butter.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, poppy seeds, and lemon zest.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix for 30 seconds.
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Empty batter into loaf pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool on a cooling rack. Prepare Lemon Glaze.
- Whisk together icing sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
- Using the edges of the parchment paper, pop the cooled cake out of your loaf tin. Peel the paper away from the edges of the cake and cover with glaze. Using the parchment paper, pop the glazed cake back into the loaf tin (this allows the glaze to soak into the sides of the cake too!)
- Slice and serve.
Keywords: vegan lemon cake, vegan lemon loaf
I never take the time to leave reviews, so that is saying something—this was really good! I used cake flour because I had some on hand. I especially loved how the edges got almost a little crispy, kind of how brownies do. Note that I was using a metal loaf pan. It was super good with non-dairy whip mixed with a teeny bit of lemon marmalade.
Amazing! Haven’t found a good vegan lemon loaf recipe until now. Fluffy, moist, flavourful, and healthy. I was waiting a long time for the chia seed mix to thicken and it never really did which worried me but it all turned out fine. For extra protein I added 2 tbps of flax seeds.
This loaf is soooo delicious!! You would seriously never be able to tell it's vegan. It's so fluffy and I love how the edges are slightly crispy, plus the crunch of the seeds is great. Amazing texture and flavor. I made this for my family and brought some to my work, and everyone (all non-vegans) loved it!
Deliciouuus! I followed the recipe exactly, apart from adding a teaspoon of lemon oil for that extra zing. My mum said it was the best lemon cake she's ever had (she isn't even vegan!).
Best recipe EVER. Thank you so much. Made it this morning and already eaten half with a cup of tea... Perfect.
That's great to hear! I'm so glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Ayse E Boykin
This was the best thing I have ever baked!
My non-vegan husband and friends did not even know the difference. I added pistachios to the dough and put on top before baking and it turned out amazing, another time I added limoncello to the icing iso water. OMG! Best thing you will ever eat!
Made this (last night) for my coworkers who are in the office today. Responses were “OMG That lemon loaf was soooo good! Thank you” and “Thank you for the yummy treat.” I am putting this recipe in my “Keepers” file. Thank you for posting it!
HI. Is it possible to leave out the chia seeds? I don't have any.
I tried this recipe today and it's so good! I don't have a loaf pan so I used a muffin tin and baked them for about 15 minutes on 190°C, which worked perfectly. I also subbed the soy milk for almond milk. Next time I would add a little more leavener as they didn't rise as high as I hoped they would.
This recipe is great. Everyone loves it. Can I ask why the amount of milk stays the same when you upscale?
Thanks for pointing that out Ana! I had to switch to a new recipe card, so some of the ingredients on older recipes aren't scaling properly. I'll fix that now!
One of my ll time favorite recipes to make! Today I did three mini-loafs and baked them for 20 minutes. They were perfect!
Excellent cake recipe! Thank you so much for sharing! I am just starting to explore plant-based baking and thanks to your thorough work , I am very encouraged now.
Yay! I'm so happy to hear that 🙂 I'm glad you enjoyed it!
This was a delicious cake, very moist and just a little acidic in a way reminding us a lemon pie, we had guests and they ask for the recipe.
We had a little bit of frosting too 🙂
That is so lovely to hear! i'm glad you and your guests enjoyed it 🙂 Thank you for trying the recipe and for taking the time to leave a comment!
Can gluten free flour be substituted for regular flour.?
Thanks for your question Catherine! I haven't tried using gluten free flour yet! If you do give it a go, I'd try it with a gluten-free all purpose flour blend. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it!
Just made these! My kitchen smelled amazing and I’m thinking of making these for a bake sale on Monday! However I think I prefer them without the glaze. It’s too sweet for my liking and will definitely not add the glaze when I make them for the sale.
And as much as I like how they tasted, My cake didn’t rise at all. Mine turn out half the height of yours. Where did I go wrong?
Hmmm... How strange! How was the texture? Any chance you used a larger loaf tin? Or if your leaveners could be out of date? Did you change anything in the recipe? Or wait a long time between mixing up the batter and cooking it?
I have a feeling it could be because I creamed the coconut oil and sugar too much? At first it looked good, then I whipped a little longer and then it looked meh.
As I’m typing, I’m making another batch! Will try not to over whip the oils this time. I stuck them in the freezer to keep it in it’s solid form instead of oily mess.
Fingers crossed it will rise this time!
On a side note, my chia mixture did not thicken up at all. Is that how it’s supposed to be?
How did it turn out Karen? I find it really strange that the chia mixture didn't thicken up! That is so weird. Have you ever made chia seed pudding or overnight oats with your chia seeds? They should definitely be thickening up... I wonder if that's the issue?
I loved this recipe! I wad wondering if you could do a similar recipe in proportion but with orange!
It raised just how it should and it tasted amazing. The thing is that every time i do an orange recipe it doesn't rise!
Oh that's interesting! Sure, I can try doing an orange loaf in the future, that sounds lovely!
Such a crowd pleaser! We made this cake a couple of times already and everyone (vegan and non-vegan) loved it! Nice and lemony and a perfect balance between sweet and sour 🙂
Hi, I had tried this recipes and it taste delicious, looked moist and fluffy. I'm using brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. Thank you for sharing this amazing vegan lemon poppy seed cake. I would like to ask if I could reduce the amount of sugar? Will it affect the texture?
Hi Julia! Thanks so much for trying out the recipe. Brown sugar would be great in this as well. The texture would not be changed a lot depending on how much you reduce the sugar. Reducing it by half would probably work fine.
Just made this for the second time, it's fast becoming the favourite in our house!
Glad you like it, Isabelle! Thanks for stopping by and trying out the recipe!
Good recipe I use regular milk, came out so good!
This cake totally worked! The whole family is excited. I’ve only added some extra poppy seeds to the sugar glaze.
Holy smokes this loaf was fantastic! I subbed oat milk for the soy (just what I had handy), and I was worried about it being thicker but it came out perfect. My favorite bakery changed the recipe of their vegan lemon poppyseed cake so I was searching for a fluffier, less dense alternative. Thank you for sharing!
This is one of the best vegan cake recipes I’ve ever made. Thankyou for sharing, it’s become a regular in our household x
Hello Brittany, thanks for the amazing recepie. I was wondering if this recipe would work using spelt flour or oat flour?
I LOVE this cake! Its so easy and so delicious! I"ve made it about 4 times now and each time its been eaten within a day or 2. I do find it to be quite oily though and wonder if it would work with less oil?
Hi Brittany, Could I substitute almond milk for the soymilk and still get the same good results?
You can definitely can! The results will be ever so slightly different, but you probably wouldn't even notice!
Delicious!! The only change I made was to add soy creamer instead of soy milk as I didn’t have any. A lovely smell is permeating my apartment. Thanks so much Brittany for all your testing of this recipe to perfect it!
Can these be made as muffins? Any idea how many this recipe might equate to?
I made the loaf for thanksgiving and it was a HUGE hit, even from my non-vegan grandparents.
Oh yay! I'm so glad to hear that! Thank you 🙂 I haven't tried this recipe as muffins but I think it would work really well! I'd increase the cooking temperature (maybe to 375F) and decrease the cooking time (check them around the 15-20 minute mark). The recipe should make about 12 muffins (about 1/4 cup of batter per muffin.) If you give it a try and it works out well I'd love to hear about it!! Thank you!
Hi Brittany and William
I made your recipe for my partner and I. We don't have sugar in our diet so instead of the glaze on top I made it with Lemon Cashew Cream. I also cut the cake in half and put the cashew cream in the middle, it was delicious.
Thanks very much for posting.
i was wondering if the recipe would be better using vegan butter or nuttlex, rather than coconut oil? I dont like using coconut oil and found that it did all sorts of things i didnt want it to do when i was adding all the wet ingredients. The cake is in the oven as i speak so Im sure it will work out fine its just that im trying to move away from using CO
I think this recipe would work with vegan butter! The coconut oil does do weird things when you add it to the batter but that's totally fine, the recipe still works out just fine!
I love desserts and am looking for healthier choices . This lemon loaf looks delicious and healthy too. I like the lower fat content and the nutrients in this recipe.😊Beautiful !
Thank you so much Cheryl, I think you'd really enjoy this recipe!
in the instructions...it says add water, soymilk, lemon, chia but in the ingredients..there is NO water amount. Please help in the middle of making this
Oh no! I'm so sorry I got to this comment late. There is NO water in the recipe, that was from an earlier version. I hope the recipe worked out!
ok the directions talk about adding water to the chia mixture but it doesn't say ANYWHERE how much. Can you please update this recipe?
I'm so sorry about that! I'm going to update the recipe now, there is no water required in the recipe. That was from an earlier version of the recipe. So sorry for the confusion!
it doesnt say how much water?
Sorry for the mix up! There is no water in the recipe, that was from an earlier version of the recipe and I forgot to edit that out of the instructions. Sorry for the confusion!
Thank you for a beautiful lemon-poppy recipe. Made this tonight for my family and the kitchen smells divine. It tastes even better.
Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it 🙂