This lemon poppy seed bread is moist and tender with a fresh, sunshine-y lemon flavor. The poppy seeds add a delicious crunch, and the sweet, tangy lemon flavor makes it the perfect treat to remind you of springtime.
Lemon bread and lemon loaf cakes are definitely one of the best things you can make in a loaf pan. Tender, dense, slightly springy, and perfectly lemon-y without being too tart. A good lemon loaf is hard to beat. And this lemon poppy seed bread meets all the requirements.
How to Get the Perfect Lemon Flavor
For this lemon loaf recipe – we’re using both lemon zest and fresh lemon juice for the lemon flavor. I like a strong lemon flavor, so I used a full 3 tablespoons of lemon zest and 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice.
- Make sure to use freshly squeezed lemon juice. Lemon juice from the bottle is too tart and can make your loaf taste sour.
- Zest the lemons first, then squeeze the juice. This makes it way easier.
- When making the loaf, you’ll rub the lemon zest with the sugar. This helps to bring out the lemon flavor from the lemon zest.
- If you prefer a slightly less lemon-y flavor, I recommend using 2 tablespoons of lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice instead of what’s listed in the recipe.
Tips for Making Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
I’ve found that loaves and breads can be some of the trickiest things to bake. They seem simple – but they can easily turn out dry, sunken in the middle, or too brown. So with that in mind, here’s my tips for making this lemon poppy seed loaf.
- The eggs and buttermilk should be room temperature. Room temperature ingredients make everything mix together evenly without having to overmix the batter. Overmixing can cause loaves to become tough.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients first – this ensures even distribution of the leaveners (baking powder and baking soda) – which helps the loaf rise properly.
- For this lemon poppy seed bread, we’re using oil. I typically opt for butter in most baked goods instead of oil because it gives more flavor. However, there’s so much lemon-y goodness in this bread, that you really don’t miss the butter. The oil helps the bread be extra moist and minimizes the risk of it getting dry.
- Bake the loaf in a light colored pan – this prevents over browning.
- If the loaf is getting brown on top, but isn’t done baking yet, tent a piece of aluminum foil over top and continue baking. This prevents burning on top.
- Bake times will vary. When your loaf is done, an inserted toothpick should come out clean and when you touch the top of the loaf with your fingers it should feel firm and slightly springy. It shouldn’t have a wobble in the middle.
- If your loaf sinks in the middle and/or is still gooey – it means it wasn’t baked for long enough.
- Make sure the loaf is 100% cooled before adding the glaze. Otherwise, it will melt into the loaf. Still tasty – but you won’t actually see the glaze.
- The glaze should be thin enough that you can drizzle it, but look white in color. If it’s opaque – it will be too thin.
For more delicious lemon recipes, try these other muffins, breads, and cakes:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup lemon juice , freshly squeezed
- 2/3 cups canola oil , vegetable oil works too
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line the bottom of an 8x4 inch loaf pan with parchment paper, then grease and flour the sides.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds.
Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl, and rub together with your fingers to work the lemon zest into the sugar.
In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and lemon zest mixture, and vanilla extract.
Whisk in the lemon juice and milk.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and whisk together until almost combined.
Then whisk the oil into the mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the top feels firm or slightly springy to the touch. Check the loaf after about 30 minutes, if it's already golden brown on top - tent a piece of aluminum foil over top of the loaf to prevent over browning on the top.
In a medium bowl whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar and the lemon juice.
You want the glaze to be white in color, but still able to drizzle it. If it seems too thin - whisk in a little more powdered sugar about 1 tablespoon at a time.
Drizzle the glaze over the cooled loaf.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Loaves freeze very well. Bake loaf, and cool completely. Then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge, then bring to room temperature before enjoying. Add the glaze to the thawed loaf.