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- Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Bundt Cake Tips
- 🛠 Tools Needed:
- 🛒 Ingredients Needed:
- 🍋 How to Make Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake:
- How to Store
- Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake FAQs:
- Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
- Other Recipes You Might Like:
Each bite of this Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake is like a burst of sun. It’s tangy and bright, incredibly tender, and full of lemon flavor with crackly poppy seeds. The cake is kept extremely moist with a lemon simple syrup that’s brushed on after baking.
A bundt cake is always a stunning showcase for get-togethers, gifts, or gatherings with its intricate design and easy-to-cut slices. This lemon bundt cake is no exception and actually stores better than most bundt cakes due to the use of sourdough discard and the simple syrup that acts as a preservative.
Plus, the lemon glaze drips down the sides of the bundt cake for a beautiful icing that encases the cake in a drizzle of lemony goodness. Once you cut into the tender and moist cake, you get perfect slices of yellow cake punctuated with tiny, speckles of poppy seeds. It’s both eloquent and delicious!
This recipe includes step-by-step photos, detailed instructions, and tips on how to make this sourdough bundt cake using sourdough discard so you have the most success at home.
👉 If you enjoy this sourdough discard recipe, you’ll enjoy making this Sourdough Banana Bread with Chai Spices, this Preserved Lemon & Rosemary Sourdough Bread, and these Sourdough Apple Butter Muffins.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
First of all, let’s talk about the flavor of this cake.
Made with buttermilk, sourdough discard, and lots of lemon flavor, this sourdough bundt cake has a tangy and zesty citrus flavor that balances out the sweetness of the cake. There’s both lemon zest and lemon juice throughout for lots of lemony goodness.
Additional lemon flavor penetrates the cake through a brushed lemon simple syrup (which helps preserve it and adds moisture) and with a straightforward lemon glaze that’s made with lemon juice.
Next, the texture of this cake is unmatched.
Crunchy poppy seeds add some bite in each slice, even though the crumb is extremely tender and soft. The velvety texture is achieved using the “reverse-creaming” method, which was popularized by cake legend Rose Levy Beranbaum in her classic 1980’s baking book The Cake Bible.
Whereas most pound cakes or butter cakes cream the butter and sugar first (like I do in my Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake), the reverse-creaming method mixes the dry ingredients, sugar, and butter at the beginning. This creates a wet sand paste. The liquid ingredients are poured in after, which decreases gluten development.
Ultimately, reverse-creaming results in a more delicate cake because you’re not overbeating the ingredients.
Bundt Cake Tips
- Use room temperature ingredients
- Using room-temperature ingredients will help the batter mix easier and result in a fluffier texture. Cold ingredients tend to curdle more often and cold butter will not cream properly.
- Don’t overmix
- Prepare the bundt pan well
- To prevent sticking, you need to grease and flour your bundt pan generously. If the pan has intricate patterns or designs, this is especially important so the cake releases easily. I use non-stick spray for an even coating and then tap a thin layer of flour all around the pan.
- Use a cake tester
- You can use a toothpick too, but a cake tester is longer so that you can stick it into the bottom of the thick bundt cake to test. The cake tester should come out clean once baked and you can use it to poke holes all over the cake for the simple syrup too.
- Use fresh lemon juice
- Bottled lemon juice contains preservatives and additives to store it longer. Unfortunately, the flavor is usually very sour because of added citric acid and not fresh lemon juice.
- Fresh lemon juice is the way to go for the best flavor in this cake. If you can find Meyer lemons, even better!
- Make in advance
- This cake stores well for multiple days at room temperature or in the refrigerator. You can even freeze the cake! Then, you can glaze the cake right before serving, which will save time.
🛠 Tools Needed:
Click the links below for my tool recommendations.
- Baking Scale
- When it comes to sourdough starter, it’s important to note that standard measurements can differ greatly depending on the individual. Therefore, using a weight-based measurement system will provide you with the most accurate results.
- 10 or 12 cup Bundt Pan
- Like bread loaf pans, unfortunately, there’s no one standard size for bundt pans. Most are measured by volume (10 or 12 cups are the most popular sizes) or by diameter (10 inches is the most widespread). Thus, I tried to develop a recipe that would work in all of these conditions and fit most bundt pans.
- This recipe will absolutely fit a 12-cup bundt pan. A 10-cup bundt pan is at the max limit of batter. Only fill a 10-cup or smaller bundt pan up 75% of the way so it doesn’t overflow when it bakes.
- Nordic Ware makes the best, heavy-duty bundt cake pans. While bundt pans are notorious for sticking, I do not have issues with their nonstick pans. Plus, their heavy-duty pans often have creative designs that are sure to stun with intricate details.
- I used the 10-cup Nordic Ware Brilliance Bundt Pan for the images in this post.
- Pastry Brush, for simple syrup
- Cake Tester
- Because bundt cakes are thick and every pan bakes very differently (so baking times can be quite off), I highly recommend using a cake tester to know if your cake is done. You can use a toothpick as well, but they’re usually not long enough to stick into the bottom of the bundt pan, so you can’t actually test if it’s done!
- Furthermore, I poke the cake all over with the cake tester before brushing on the simple syrup. A thin cake tester doesn’t leave large holes throughout your cake, unlike a toothpick or other baking dowel rods.
- Stand Mixer (optional but helpful)
- Creaming the butter is easiest with a stand mixer, but you can also mix by hand or with a hand-held mixer. Just be sure not to overmix or overbeat the ingredients.
🛒 Ingredients Needed:
Click on the links below for my favorite ingredient recommendations.
Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
- Cake Flour
- Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour, resulting in a softer and more tender crumb.
- If you don’t have cake flour, you can substitute it with all-purpose flour and a bit of cornstarch. For this recipe, substitute the cake flour with 275g of all-purpose flour and 25g of cornstarch.
- Sea Salt
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Poppy Seeds
- If you don’t have poppy seeds or don’t want to use them, feel free to leave them out.
- Granulated Sugar
- I use both lemon zest and fresh lemon juice in the cake, simple syrup, and glaze to extract the most lemon flavor in the cake. Don’t use bottled lemon juice or it will lend an artificial flavor to the cake.
- If you have access to Meyer Lemons (typically only available in the winter months on the East Coast), I highly recommend using them for incredible flavor. Meyer lemons are smaller, so you may need one or two more when you make this recipe. Plus, they’re sweeter than typical lemons (a mix between lemon and mandarin orange), so you can decrease the sugar slightly in the recipe.
- Unsalted Butter, softened
- Room-temperature butter will cream and incorporate into the batter better than cold butter.
- I usually recommend full-fat dairy for the best flavor, but all buttermilk is considered low-fat and labeled as such.
- Sourdough Discard
- If you don’t have an active sourdough starter, learn how to make one in a week following my how-to guide.
- Vanilla Extract
Lemon Simple Syrup
- Granulated Sugar
- Lemon Juice
- Powdered Sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
- Powdered sugar, or confectioner’s sugar, is extremely fine sugar that dissolves without heat, unlike granulated sugar. That’s why most icings and frostings use it!
- Lemon Juice
- Can also substitute with Limencello liqueur if you wanna make this an extra special cake!
🍋 How to Make Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake:
Follow this visual and detailed recipe guide as you bake this sourdough bundt cake.
1. Prepare the Bundt Pan
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC).
To prepare your bundt pan, spray the pan with non-stick spray. You can butter the pan as well, but I find that non-stick spray oils the pan the best in a thin layer.
Then, sprinkle about a quarter cup of flour inside the pan. While adding the flour, rotate and tap the pan to disperse it evenly. Make sure you get into all of the crevices of the pan so that the cake won’t stick.
So you don’t get a floury residue on the cake, I only keep a thin layer of flour in the pan (more flour doesn’t mean better here). Thus, I turn the pan upside-down and tap it on the counter to remove any excess flour inside.
2. Mix the Dry Ingredients and Butter
I use the reverse-creaming method for this recipe, which minimizes gluten development and results in a soft and tender crumb. While the method may be a bit different than how most cake recipes begin, it’s actually easier and uses less bowls!
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the following dry ingredients:
- 300 grams of cake flour (2 ½ cups)
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 38 grams of poppy seeds (¼ cup)
- 400 grams of granulated sugar (2 cups)
Add 226 grams of softened unsalted butter (2 sticks, or one cup) and the zest of three lemons (about 3 TBS).
Pulse on low speed to start creaming the room-temperature butter into the dry ingredients.
Once it’s mostly incorporated, increase the speed to low-medium speed. Cream the butter into a wet, crumbly paste that will feel like somewhat wet sand.
3. Mix and Add the Wet Ingredients
In a large liquid measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together:
- 3 eggs
- 181 grams of buttermilk (¾ cups)
- 150 grams of sourdough discard
- 2 TBS of lemon juice (the juice of one lemon)
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
While mixing on low speed, slowly pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl of the stand mixer.
At first, the batter will seem very wet, but after a minute or two, it will come together. Mix just until combined and use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and fold in any remaining dry spots in the batter.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan. Only fill the pan 75% up so it doesn’t overflow, especially if using a smaller 10-cup pan. Place the bundt pan on a half-sheet pan in case there is any overflow as it rises.
Bake at 350ºF (177ºC) for 45-50 minutes until the cake is dark brown, the crust is slightly cracked, the edges pull away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Each bundt pan will bake differently depending on the size of the pan, shape, material, and color of the pan. If needed, bake longer until all of the baking indicators are met.
5. Make and Brush On Lemon Simple Syrup
While the cake bakes, make the lemon simple syrup.
In a small saucepan over a stovetop on low heat, mix 50 grams of sugar (¼ cup), 59 grams of water (¼ cup), and 2 TBS of lemon juice (the juice from one lemon). Stir with a spatula until the sugar dissolves. Set the simple syrup aside to cool as the cake finishes baking.
Once the cake is out of the oven, poke small holes all over the top (will be the bottom once it is turned upside-down) of the cake with the cake tester. Brush half of the lemon simple syrup onto the cake with a pastry brush. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Now for the fun part. Place a cake stand or wire rack on top of the bundt cake and quickly lift and turn the cake upside down. Tap the top of the pan and slowly release the cake. If your cake doesn’t easily come out of the shell, run a butter knife or an offset spatula around the edges.
Now, poke holes all over the cake and brush the remaining half of the lemon simple syrup all over the cake. If the syrup isn’t soaking in, poke more holes and brush the simple syrup on every few minutes.
It may seem like a lot of simple syrup, but this is what keeps the cake extra moist, gives it additional lemon flavor, and helps preserve it longer.
Let the sourdough lemon bundt cake cool for at least an hour.
6. Make Lemon Glaze
Once the cake cools completely, you can enjoy it as it is. You could dust it with powdered sugar and it would be delicious that way! However, I like to add an easy lemon glaze on top for a dramatic effect and to mimic how most lemon cakes are served with an icing or frosting.
In a small mixing bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix 120 grams of powdered sugar (one cup) and about 2 TBS of lemon juice together. I typically eye this because you want the glaze to be thicker than you think. Another fun option is to use Limoncello liqueur instead of lemon juice for the glaze!
A runny or thin glaze will run down the sides of your bundt cake very quickly, especially if the cake is warm at all. For the best effect, the glaze should be gloopy and thick so that it very slowly drips down the sides of the cake and dries on the cake.
If you need to add more powdered sugar or lemon juice to the mix, adjust accordingly until you get the consistency you want. I typically mix with a spoon until the thick mixture very slowly drips from the spoon.
Slowly pour the lemon glaze on top of the cake and let it trickle off of the sides. For a little more decoration, sprinkle poppy seeds on top of the icing. You can also zest more lemon zest on top, add lemon slices, or candied lemon peels.
How to Store
Because of the sourdough discard and lemon simple syrup, this bundt cake stores extremely well. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and it can store at room temperature for 4-5 days.
If you want to make the cake in advance, you can wrap it up unfrosted and then add the glaze before serving. Additionally, you can keep it in the refrigerator for a few more days.
Can you Freeze Sourdough Bundt Cake?
Yes. Sourdough lemon bundt cake freezes very well unglazed for many months. Once the cake is completely cool, wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer for a few months.
Thaw the cake in the refrigerator overnight and glaze the cake before serving.
Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake FAQs:
Why did my bundt cake stick to the pan?
Bundt cakes are notorious for sticking to the pan. To prevent sticking, be sure to grease and flour your bundt pan well and bake the cake completely until the edges start pulling away from the sides. When you turn out the bundt cake, tap it and run a butter knife or offset spatula along the sides of the pan if needed.
Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
- 300 grams Cake flour, 2.5 cups, plus more for dusting; if using all-purpose, substitute with 275g of AP flour and 25g of cornstarch
- ½ tsp Sea Salt
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Baking Soda
- 38 grams Poppy Seeds, ¼ cup
- 400 grams Granulated Sugar, 2 cups
- 226 grams Unsalted Butter, softened, 2 sticks, one cup
- 3 TBS Lemon Zest
- 3 Eggs
- 181 grams Buttermilk, ¾ cup
- 150 grams Sourdough Discard
- 2 TBS Lemon Juice
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Lemon Simple Syrup
- 50 grams Granulated Sugar, ¼ cup
- 59 grams Water, ¼ cup
- 2 TBS Lemon Juice
- 120 grams Powdered Sugar
- 2 TBS Lemon Juice
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC).Prep your bundt pan with non-stick spray or softened butter and a coating of flour.
- Mix the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer or by hand), followed by the softened butter and lemon zest. Pulse on low speed and increase until it forms a wet, crumbly paste.300 grams Cake flour, ½ tsp Sea Salt, 1 tsp Baking Powder, ½ tsp Baking Soda, 38 grams Poppy Seeds, 400 grams Granulated Sugar, 226 grams Unsalted Butter, 3 TBS Lemon Zest
- Whisk the wet ingredients together in a liquid measuring cup or mixing bowl. Then, pour into the bowl of the stand mixer and mix until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl if needed.3 Eggs, 181 grams Buttermilk, 150 grams Sourdough Discard, 2 TBS Lemon Juice, 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan (only fill 75% up if using a 10-cup or smaller pan). Place the bundt on a sheet pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until the cake is dark brown, the edges pull away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- While the cake bakes, make the lemon simple syrup.In a small saucepan over a stovetop on low heat, mix the sugar, water, and lemon juice. Stir with a spatula until the sugar dissolves. Set the simple syrup aside to cool as the cake finishes baking.50 grams Granulated Sugar, 59 grams Water, 2 TBS Lemon Juice
- Once the cake is out of the oven, poke small holes all over the top of the cake with the cake tester. Brush half of the lemon simple syrup onto the cake with a pastry brush. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.Turn the cake upside down onto a wire rack or cake pan, release the cake, and again poke all over with the cake with the tester. Brush the remaining syrup onto the cake. Cool for at least an hour.
- In a small mixing bowl, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together to form a thick glaze that drips slowly from a spoon.Slowly pour the lemon glaze on top of the cake and let it trickle off of the sides. Sprinkle the top with more poppy seeds and/or lemon zest.120 grams Powdered Sugar, 2 TBS Lemon Juice
- Follow my guide for more detailed instructions and photos to make this recipe step-by-step.