Friday, February 24, 2012

Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Poppies.  Poppy flowers are so beautiful, so fragile looking with their papery petals.  Yet they are also a little intimidating with their hairy stems and spiky leaves.  Perhaps that's why poppies have so much symbolism attached to them -- remembrance, sleep, and death.

For many of us, our first memory of poppies may be from The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy, Toto, and the Lion fall asleep in a magical poppy field.  In Greek and Roman mythology, poppies were used as offerings to the dead and possibly as symbols of resurrection.  Poppies are sometimes carved on tombstones for the same reasons.

illustration by W. W. Denslow from The Wizard of Oz and poppies on a tombstone in Illinois

Luckily, this lovely cake will not put you to sleep (or worse).  I believe the recipe came from The Nashville Tennessean newspaper years ago.  I seem to remember that it was supposed to be Emmy Lou Harris' recipe.  I have changed it only slightly from the original version.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

2 cups sugar
1 cup margarine, softened (can use butter)
3 cups flour (can replace 1/2 cup with whole wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 10” tube pan.  (Do not use vegetable spray; I tried this and the cake stuck.) 

Cream margarine (or butter) and sugar together.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients and all remaining ingredients to creamed mixture.  Beat on low speed until moistened.  Beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until mixture lightens and is relatively smooth (there will still be bits of margarine/butter).

Pour in tube pan and bake 45-50 minutes, until golden on top.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  If desired, top with glaze.  (I always omit the glaze.)

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

Did you know that there are more than 120 species of poppies and that culinary poppy seeds come from the opium poppy?  Poppy seeds contain both morphine and codeine.  (Hmmm, can this be why I love poppy seed cakes and muffins so much?)  I have read that anywhere from two to four poppy seed bagels are enough to cause a positive drug test.  So you might not want to eat this scrumptious poppy-filled cake if you are subject to a drug test within seventy-two hours. Fair warning.

Printable recipe


  1. Ah, two of my favorite things! I grow the flowers but have yet to try making the cake. Well, this is it. Off to buy poppy seed and buttermilk!

    Have a great weekend!

  2. I love lemon and poppyseeds! What a beautiful cake.

    Dough, Dirt & Dye

  3. I'm catching up on all your posts. I had the internet go down on Thursday throwing me into complete disarray. This is a lovely looking cake Posy. I love lemon poppy seed cake. The poppy seeds add a lovely bit of texture.

  4. This is one of my favorite lemon cakes. The glaze makes it so yummy! also thanks for the poppy lesson too...I had no idea that happend in the Wizard of Oz or about the tombstones...very interesting! Oh and starting next week I am going to be watching my carbs so no delicious looking recipes ok? hee hee

  5. Lol ~ now I've got the wicked witch of the west crooning "poppies, poppies..." running through my head. ;) Your cake looks like it came out perfectly perfect. :)

  6. Mmm this cake looks delicious! I just wish I could eat more cake ;) Maggie xx


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