What is about loaf cakes? I so dig that they can easily double as breakfast or dessert- and in my world they often do. This Lemon-Olive Oil Poppy Seed Cake is no different; it’s downright swoon worthy!

Lemon-Olive Oil Poppy Seed Cake | mountainmamacooks.com

I often wonder what my life would look like had I not found my love in the kitchen. When I was a little girl, I remember itching to be in the kitchen when the adults were cooking. I always adored family dinners and any get together, for that matter, that involved food. Although I couldn’t have articulated it back then, I think that from an early age I was able to understand that in my family, cooking = love. Food represented so much more than just something to eat. It was a way we connected, shared victories, sad happenings and everything in-between. Whether it was baking with my mom, or dinner at my Grandma’s on Sunday, or trying artichokes for the first time at my uncles house. All of these became what would be the foundation of my food journey.

Lemon-Olive Oil Poppy Seed Cake | mountainmamacooks.com

It’s no mystery to me that when I went to college and was living on my own for the first time, I was drawn to restaurant jobs and working with food. With the exception of a very short stint at a paint it yourself ceramic studio, food has always been a part of my “job”. After numerous restaurant jobs and graduating from college, I went on to start a private chef business that I’ve now been doing for almost 15 years! (Holy SH%T, how has it been that long?) And currently I do a mix of small catering jobs, running Mountain Mama Cooks and feeding my family- which is the biggest (and unpaid) job that I’ve ever had.

Lemon-Olive Oil Poppy Seed Cake | mountainmamacooks.com

I feel so fortunate that I’ve been able to turn my passion into my work. Even though my actual job has morphed over the years, cooking has always been at the core. There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t take a moment and pay gratitude to my good fortune. And if I’m being honest, it’s also been a lot of hard work. But thankfully I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty- literally and figuratively- so somehow I’ve always made it work. I’ve always said that when cooking feels like a “job”, I’m out. And so far it hasn’t. I love cooking for people today- maybe even more- than when I first started.

Lemon-Olive Oil Poppy Seed Cake | mountainmamacooks.com

My hope is that my boys will see food as more than just a way to nourish their little bodies. My hope is they’ll see their Mama doing something she is passionate about and in turn do that for themselves. I hope they’ll see how our meals connect not just our immediate family but extended family and friends as well. I hope they’ll see how food can be a way of saying I’m sorry or congratulations. I hope they’ll see food as a way to start a conversation or use it as a reason to have people over. I hope they’ll see how food can mend a broken heart and heal a cold or flu. And what I really hope is that even though they’re not always going to love being in the kitchen with me as much as they do now, they’ll make their way back at some point.

Lemon-Olive Oil Poppy Seed Cake | mountainmamacooks.com

This Lemon-Olive Oil Poppy Seed Cake is so easy to put together. It’s a great way to highlight the winter citrus and I must say, it’s best when eaten with a mug of milky tea and shared with a friend. (Or your hubby after you drop the kids at school 🙂 )

Have a fabulous weekend everyone and, as always, thanks for reading! xo, Kelley

Lemon-Olive Oil Poppy Seed Cake

Yield: 8-10 servings


    for the cake:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • for the lemon glaze:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 teaspoons lemon juice


  1. Heat oven to 350F degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch loaf pan; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine lemon zest and sugar and rub with your fingers until it looks like wet sand. Add olive oil to sugar and whisk until light and fluffy. Beat eggs in one at a time until incorporated but do not over mix. Add lemon juice and vanilla and stir to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk dry ingredients into the batter, alternating with the buttermilk until just combined. Stir in poppy seeds.
  4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, about 1 hour. Remove from oven Let cool in pan 15 minutes and then turn out onto a baking rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Turn cake right side up.
  5. To make the glaze, whisk together remaining powdered sugar and lemon juice until a slightly thick glaze forms. Adjust sugar and lemon juice until you get desired consistency. Glaze the cake evenly and sprinkle with additional poppy seeds if desired. Cool completely before slicing.
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16 Responses to Lemon-Olive Oil Poppy Seed Cake

  1. Teaching your kids, boys and girls, to cook is a gift to the world. Kelley you rock–thank you for the gift!

  2. Shirley says:

    I bought all the ingredients and was looking forward to making this, but was confused about the recipe. At the top it calls for 1 cup granulated sugar, then zest of 3 lemons, then 1 cup sugar. Do you use two cups of granulated sugar because later in the icing recipe it says to use remaining powdered sugar which is 3/4 cup. Please help. Thanks so much.

    • Shirley says:

      I think I found the answer. I think the extra cup of sugar was just put in by mistake. I pulled other recipes up on the internet with the same ingredients and all of them had just 1 cup of sugar. I am impatient to make this tonight. So I am headed for the kitchen. Thank you.

    • Kelley says:

      Thanks for noticing. It IS just one cup of sugar. I’ve updated the recipe. Thanks and hope you enjoyed the recipe!!

      • Shirley says:

        Thanks Kelley. I didn’t get it made, but made it earlier before I heard back from you. It is in the oven now. Can’t wait. thanks so much.

        • Shirley says:

          just wanted to let you know, the cake was fabulous and I agree, I think the flavor intensifies over time. Will definitely be making it again. Thank you!

  3. Debbie says:

    When do you add the eggs? I have the bread in the oven and added to the lemon sugar mixture. But recipe never stated!

  4. Kara says:

    This looks wonderful!!!! Can’t wait to try it!

  5. Jim says:

    I didn’t have any problems with the recipe. It may just be me, but it seems to me that the lemon flavor gets a little more intense every day. Thanks for another great recipe! I absolutely loved your chocolate mini loaves, as did everyone that I made them for.

  6. Emily says:

    Your recipes are amazing! Altitude cooking is no joke (we are in Park City as well), but everything I’ve made of yours is fantastic. Thank you!!

  7. Mikael says:

    Making these into cupcakes! Hoping that then out great!

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