Ann’s Kitchen: Extra Lemony Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

It’s a brilliant blend of lemon and poppy seeds.

I’ve always made quick breads. It’s one of the first things I learned how to bake when I was a kid. Now that it’s spring (technically), I crave lemon poppyseed bread. I’ve made plain lemon breads and lemon-blueberry (that’s a great combo) breads. But lemon and poppy seeds are a heavenly combination.

Years ago, I bought mini loaf pans. That way I could give a few loaves away to family or friends and save one for myself. This was the perfect recipe for sharing. I used my first set of mini loaf pans so much I recently had to replace them. They get a lot of use!

I’ve tried various lemon poppyseed recipes but am not married to one. Some have more butter and sugar and seem more like pound cake. Some call for milk as the wet ingredient. I like a lot of lemon flavor so I squeeze fresh lemons and use that in place of milk. The other thing I often do right after I pull the loaves out of the oven is top them with a warm sugar syrup. You could also use a powdered sugar glaze. And if you don’t have poppyseeds, that’s no problem, too.

You can make a lovely plain lemon bread! I use just regular lemons, but I’ve often thought I should try Meyer lemons. Hmm, next time… if I can get them. Right now, like most people out there I’m baking with what I’ve got in the house in order to avoid shopping too much. Oh, and sometimes I like to make one big, extravagant loaf all for myself. My late aunt also gave me an old thin rectangular-shaped loaf pain with a slide-on lid that I like to use when I’m serving this to guests. Regular-size or mini muffins would be fun, too.

Here, I adapted a recipe from the Joy of Baking, which results in a delicate, beautifully lemony loaf. Be sure to do the final step of brushing the warm lemon-sugar glaze over the top. It makes the loaf extra tender but not too sweet! 

Extra Lemony Lemon Poppy Seed Bread:

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (outer yellow skin of one lemon)
2 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Optional Lemon Glaze:

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

Bread: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour, or spray with a non stick vegetable/flour spray, the bottom and sides of a loaf pan (8 x 4 x 2 1/2 inch) or 3 mini loaf pans. Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment or wax paper — or just grease the pans really well, as I often do.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, and poppy seeds .

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until softened (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and lemon juice alternately. Mix only until combined. You don’t want to over-mix this.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or spatula. Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you’re baking mini loaves, bake for about 30-35 minutes. 

Lemon Glaze: Meanwhile, in a small microwaveable bowl, stir the sugar with the lemon juice. Place in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds or just until sugar has dissolved. You can also heat the ingredients together in a small saucepan on the stove, which is typically what I do.

When the bread is done, remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Immediately brush the top of the bread with the hot lemon glaze. Cool the loaf in the pan for about 20-30 minutes then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.



Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.