Poppyseed Citrus Tea Cake

Poppyseed Citrus Tea Cake with double-glazed icing - perfect for snacks, brunch, dessert or just when you hear the call for something citrusy and sweet!

I’m not sure why, but it seems like lemon always make me feel happy! That’s what this Poppyseed Citrus Tea Cake does for me.

Not deep-down-in-my soul-happy, because only Jesus can do that; but rather a sunshiny, light kind of happy. So when the weather here in Carolina went from drop-dead gorgeous with balmy 70˚ temperatures and clear blue skies on Saturday to snow, ice and freezing rain on Monday, I declared that something LEMON was definitely in order. A lemon tea cake sounded perfect, since it can be served for breakfast, brunch and snacks AND it makes a wonderful dessert. Since I had some beautiful oranges and limes, I decided to combine them with my happy lemons to make it a Poppyseed Citrus Tea Cake with double-glaze icing.

Poppyseed Citrus Tea Cake with double-glazed icing - perfect for snacks, brunch, dessert or just when you hear the call for something citrusy and sweet!

The first cake I made wasn’t so “happy”, as I didn’t bake it long enough and it had big “sink hole” in the center. I wanted to get it just right for you, (well okay, for me too) so I tweaked the recipe just a bit and tried it again, this time allowing it to bake to a perfect golden brown. The second batch looked wonderful and smelled amazing as it emerged from the oven. I let it cool a bit, added the citrus glazes (yes, two of them) and set things up to get some pictures for the blog. As Scott and I were finishing up the photo shoot, I got a text from my son who had, earlier in the day, invited us for dinner. The text read: “Got any desserts lying around?”

Poppyseed Citrus Tea Cake with double-glazed icing - perfect for snacks, brunch, dessert or just when you hear the call for something citrusy and sweet!

Did I have any desserts lying around? Holy Schmoley ………… did I ever!! I texted back, “How about a Poppyseed Citrus Tea Cake?” with a picture that we’d just taken. His text back just said “YES!!”. I drizzled bit of extra icing on the cake (we like our icing!) and we were on our way. Woohooo! Dinner at Nick and Lindsay’s is always a treat.


Poppyseed Citrus Tea Cake with double-glazed icing - perfect for snacks, brunch, dessert or just when you hear the call for something citrusy and sweet!

As usual, Lindsay made a wonderful dinner and, when we finished, someone remembered the cake. It was cut in thick slices and ………. the verdict? “Wow, this is REALLY good!”, “Yum”, “Oh, wow!” were a few of the comments that slipped out as the moist, citrusy cake was enjoyed with glasses of cold milk. It was definitely a hit, a happy hit  ………. and we didn’t even care that the cold, damp rain was still falling outside. By the way, today it was 65˚and sunny …… go figure!

P.S. Are you wondering about TWO glazes? I thought so ………. here’s the scoop; the first glaze is more of a syrup, which is poured on while the cake is still hot. It seeps down in and creates amazing moistness and flavor. The second is the crowning glory: a simple citrusy glaze made with juice and powdered sugar. It’s drizzled over the top, once the cake’s cooled, cascading down the sides and creating pools of yummy icing just perfect for swiping a finger across ……….


Citrus Poppyseed Citrus Tea Cake

5 from 6 reviews

A bright fresh tasting cake baked in two loaf pans. Perfect for brunch, snacks or dessert. A double citrus glaze is a spectacular finishing touch.

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 45 mins
  • Cook Time: 60 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14
  • Category: Dessert


  • finely grated zest, from 1 large lemon
  • finely grated zest, from 1 medium lime
  • finely grated zest, from 1 medium orange
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • For the cake:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons prepared citrus juice mixture (see recipe instructions)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 ounces butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • For the syrup/glaze:
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons prepared citrus juice mixture (see recipe instructions)
  • For the icing:
  • 1 1/2-2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons prepared citrus juice mixture (see recipe instructions)


  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray 2 – 8 1/2 x 4 inch loaf pans with baking spray. Line the pans with parchment paper so that paper extends an inch or two over the top long edges of the pans.
  2. Combine all three types of zest in a small bowl and mix lightly with the tines of a fork.
  3. Combine lemon, lime and orange juice in a another small bowl. This juice will be used in the syrup/glaze, the icing and also in the bread. Divide the juice up like this; place 5 tablespoons of in a small sauce pan (for the syrup glaze). Place 3 tablespoons in a medium size bowl (for the icing). Set aside he remaining 4 tablespoons of juice for the bread batter.
  4. For the bread, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds in a medium size bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
  5. Combine yogurt, milk and the 4 tablespoons of juice and vanilla. Stir or whisk together. Set aside.
  6. Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.
  7. Add the flour mixture alternately with the yogurt/milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Add zest (reserve just a bit of zest to garnish the loaves with after baking) and stir to combine.
  8. Divide batter between the two prepared pans. Place pans on a sheet pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until skewer or toothpick insert in the center of the loaves comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool slightly while preparing syrup.
  10. For the syrup/glaze, add 1/3 cup sugar to the juice in the saucepan. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Stir till sugar is dissolved, then remove from heat. Poke the top of the loaves all over with a skewer or toothpick. Slowly drizzle syrup over cake, allowing it to sink in before adding more. Use up all the syrup between the two loaves.
  11. Allow cakes to cool completely in pans, then remove with the overhanging parchment paper.
  12. For the icing, add 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar to the 3 tablespoons of juice in the medium bowl. Whisk together till smooth. Add more powdered sugar to make a thick, yet drizzle-able icing. Drizzle back and forth over tops of loaves allowing icing to drip down the sides. Garnish with a bit more zest, if desired.


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