Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Cake

I’m not here to convince you that gluten-free is better than gluten-full. I don’t think food technology is there yet where a croissant can be replicated with gluten-free flour but if I had to choose whether to eat this cake with gluten or gluten-free flour, I would go gluten-free flour all the way. This gluten free lemon poppyseed cake is so perfectly moist, dense, and has the nicest crumb in every bite. You would never notice it was gluten-free! 

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A small backstory on why I’m even entertaining the idea of gluten-free sweets: one, Hell Yeah Gluten Free has inspired me to rethink how delicious gluten-free treats can be and two, after a series of weird digestive health-related events in 2020, I found that flour (along with garlic, tomatoes and other daily staples) was triggering my digestive duress. So I decided I’d give the whole “gluten reduced” thing a go and start switching out my gluten-filled favorites with a gluten-free recipe. 

Some of the recipes came out even better with gluten-free flour than with regular flour. And by the way, when I reference gluten-free flour, the only variety I use is Bob’s Red Mill Cup for Cup Baking flour and I’ve only tried this flour in things that will be baked, so I don’t recommend it for all gluten-free needs as I can’t speak to them. 

I would also like to shout out to my classmate’s mom who inspired this original recipe! I tweaked it to accommodate my gluten-reduced lifestyle and made some adjustments along the way. I’ve noticed when baking with gluten-free flour that generally you need more egg, a little more liquid, and sometimes a pinch more salt. 

If you are going to embark on this recipe here are a few things to note: no you cannot substitute the oil for butter. This recipe calls for butter extract AND almond extract and yes you need them both. The lemon in this is only reserved for the icing of this gluten free lemon poppyseed cake and you could leave it out altogether if you were really inclined, but the touch of citrusy brightness is really nice to break up the other flavors.

This cake really isn’t heavy, and if you’re so inclined, you can pop what you don’t want to eat right now into the freezer and thaw for a rainy day. It comes back PERFECTLY. Icing and all! 

5 from 3 votes
gluten free cake
Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr

You won't miss gluten with this delightful recipe! Bright and brimming with flavor with the most delightful crumb.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake, gluten free, gluten free cake, lemon poppyseed
Servings: 8
For the Cake
  • 3 cups Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1 1/2 cup canola/vegetable/safflower/ avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp butter flavor
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Icing
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 2 tbsp 2% milk
  • lemon zest for garnish
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and place a rack in the center of the oven.

  2. Thoroughly grease your pan whether it's a bundt, loaf, or other.

  3. In a medium bowl, sift together gluten free flour, salt, baking powder. Whisk in sugar and poppyseeds, set aside.

  4. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil, and flavorings. When thoroughly mixed, whisk in the dry ingredients. If the dough is too thick, add in additional milk, 1 tbsp at a time. We are looking for thick pancake batter consistency.

  5. Pour cake mix into the cake pan and tap a few times to release any air bubbles. Set in oven and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the Icing
  1. Sift powdered sugar together in a large bowl. Add in lemon juice and milk. The icing should have a thickness to it and not be too runny. Let sit on counter to firm up while the cake is baking.

  2. Remove cake from oven and let cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes before removing. Once removed from pan, let cool completely before adding icing.

  3. Pour icing over and let it naturally run off the sides. Sprinkle lemon zest on top for a garnish.

  4. Make sure to store the cake in an air tight container to retain it's moisture. If you want to freeze it, cut it into smaller portions, wrap in plastic wrap and then place in a freezer ziplock bag. Let it come to room temperature on the counter to reheat if desired.

Author: Cynthia

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Recipe Rating

  • If I wanted to increase the lemon flavor in the cake, could I add lemon zest and sub the vanilla or butter extract for lemon extract?

    • You can if you’d like! I haven’t tried that so not sure how the results will yield. Normally if I want more lemon flavor I add lemon juice to the icing and lemon zest on top.