Whole wheat lemon poppyseed cake | foodsciencenerd.com

Whole Wheat Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Posted on Posted in Nutrition Information, Recipes

I made this cake totally on a whim after seeing it on one of the best blogs on the planet, smitten kitchen (I finally bought her cookbook!).  She adapted it from Food & Wine, but then I adapted it further to make it justifiably healthy.  I brought it in to work and it was immediately deemed “the best thing you ever brought in” (and I bring things in a lot), so without further ado, here it is!

First, beat 8 egg yolks and one egg, along with a measly 2/3 cup of sugar, with a whisk for about 8 minutes, until fluffy.

Save those egg whites for later use!
Save those egg whites for later use!

Meanwhile, zest 2 lemons and juice 1.  Zest first, and then juice, or you will be sad.

Zesting with a microplane | foodsciencenerd.com

Next, fold in whole wheat flour, cornstarch, and salt very carefully to avoid deflating those yolks (they are touchy).  The whole wheat flour works well in this cake- it is already supposed to be pretty dense, so the whole wheat doesn’t affect that negatively.  Also, the poppy seeds impart a rough texture, so no one notices the additional roughness of the wheat bran.  White whole wheat is a good option if you want to trick people, since the yellowness of the butter and lemon cover up any color change.

Folding into egg foam | foodsciencenerd.com

Carefully stir in melted butter, poppy seeds, and lemon juice.  The original recipe didn’t have any lemon juice, but it needed a more lemony flavor, in my opinion.  Also, whole wheat flour is dry and absorbs lots of liquid, so the extra liquid helps balance this out.

Whole wheat lemon poppyseed cake | foodsciencenerd.com

Pour into a well-buttered and floured bundt pan, cover tightly with buttered foil, and bake for about 45 minutes at 325F.  Let cool for about 15 minutes before inverting to remove.  This cake is very sticky, but I discovered that a spoon is the perfect shape to separate the cake from the rounded edges of the pan.

When I inverted the cake, there were lots of patchy spots still stuck to the pan:

Whole wheat lemon poppyseed cake | foodsciencenerd.com

Oops.  To fix this, I sprinkled powdered sugar over the top (in the sink to avoid messes)- no one would ever know that the top isn’t perfect!

Whole wheat lemon poppyseed cake | foodsciencenerd.com

This cake is even relatively guilt-free! Aside from the butter (which, keep in mind, there are 12 servings in this cake), it is whole wheat, high protein, and low sugar, so enjoy with a happy conscience!

Whole Wheat Lemon Poppyseed Cake


  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • Powdered sugar for topping


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a Bundt pan and a large square of tinfoil.
  2. Use a mixer with the whisk attachment to beat the sugar and egg/egg yolks at medium-high until pale and fluffy, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the lemon zest, then sift in the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Fold carefully to combine without deflating the egg.
  4. Change to the paddle attachment and beat in butter, lemon juice, and poppy seeds.
  5. At medium speed, beat in the butter, then beat in the poppy seeds.
  6. Pour into the buttered pan and cover tightly with foil. Bake for about 45 minutes, until tester comes out clean.
  7. Remove the foil and let the cake cool for about 15 minutes, then invert and cool completely.
  8. Dust with powdered sugar as needed to cover patchy spots.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!