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Contest-Winning Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Total Time

Prep: 40 min. Bake: 25 min. + cooling


12 servings

This lovely layered cake may not be made from scratch, but lemon curd filling and creamy frosting give it a gourmet taste. It's a refreshing change from chocolate holiday desserts.—Suzanne Earl, Spring, Texas
Contest-Winning Lemon Poppy Seed Cake Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1 package lemon cake mix (regular size)
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 4 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 jar (10 ounces) lemon curd


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, milk, buttermilk, oil, applesauce, lemon juice, egg yolks, lemon zest and poppy seeds; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter.
  2. Transfer to two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 22-28. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until stiff peaks form.
  4. Cut each cake horizontally into two layers. Place bottom layer on a serving plate; top with 1/3 cup lemon curd. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining lemon curd over top of cake within 1 in. of edges. Frost sides and top edge of cake with 3 cups whipped cream mixture. Pipe remaining mixture around edges.
To Make Ahead: The cake layers can be made the day before serving. Store in resealable plastic bags at room temperature. Editor's Note: We recommend using a Duncan Hines 18-1/4 ounce cake mix for this recipe.

Nutrition Facts

1 slice: 502 calories, 27g fat (12g saturated fat), 127mg cholesterol, 349mg sodium, 60g carbohydrate (42g sugars, 0 fiber), 4g protein.

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