Lemon Poppy Seed Ombre Cake

lemon poppy seed ombre cake3

My mother recently celebrated a milestone birthday (she’ll kill me if I share her age 😉 )  We threw her a fabulous surprise party, and I put myself in charge of baking her birthday cake!  I’m definitely NOT an expert baker, but I absolutely love baking, I find it sort of therapeutic.   I searched for weeks before I found the perfect cake recipe.  I decided on the most amazingly delicious lemon poppy seed cake from Always with Butter.  I’ve done a slightly different recipe for lemon poppy seed cupcakes before and they were very yummy, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong!  I also mixed up a chic yellow ombre frosting to make this cake even more fun.  The party was a great time & the cake with a HUGE HIT!

lemon poppy seed ombre cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Ombre Cake
Recipe makes one large cake


for the cake…

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 2 sticks butter (softened)
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • zest on large lemon
  • 5 egg whites

for the lemon cream cheese frosting…

  • zest one large lemon
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • yellow food coloring


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter & flour two round baking pans (or three if you want thinner layers)
  • Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt & poppy seeds in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add butter, zest & 1 cup of buttermilk.  Mix thoroughly.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites and remaining buttermilk together. Gradually blend into batter.
  • Pour into baking pans and bake for 28 minutes.

for the cream cheese lemon frosting…

  • Blend all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Once thoroughly blended, separate frosting into three smaller bowls, two bowls should have a bit more frosting (one for the bottom and middle of the cake & one for the top of the cake).
  • To make the ombre yellow frosting, start by adding a approximately 5 drops in the of the smaller bowl of frosting, then appox. 15 drops in one of the large bowls of frosting, the remaining large bowl of frosting will have no yellow coloring (it will be used to frost the base of the cake and between layers.  Continue adding drops of yellow to the two bowls until you reach the desired shades of yellow.
  • When frosting your cake, start with the large bowl of cream colored frosting (without the yellowing coloring).  Use that to frost in between the cakes, be sure to leave a bit for the outer base of the cake too!
  • Using a frosting knife, apply the remaining colorless frosting to the base of the cake.  Next, apply the small bowl of medium colored yellow around the middle section of the cake.  Finally, frost the remaining top area of the cake with the large bowl of dark yellow.

Note: I doubled this recipe when I made it because I wanted an even larger cake & some mini cupcakes too.  The doubled recipe served over 50 people!

lemon poppy seed ombre cake2

You can really see the ombre yellow frosting here!

lemon poppy seed cupcakes4

Look at those poppy seeds, and those creamy layers of cream cheese frosting!  This image makes my mouth water…

Here are the mini cupcakes I made!  I used polka dot paper cups along with toothpicks & fabric flags!

lemon poppy seed cupcakes

Find more sweet baking recipes here!



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