Mobile menu
Home » Gluten-Free Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Gluten-Free Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Use this recipe for a Bundt or layer cake!


From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with OonaghAdapted from Bob’s Red Mill cornflour packet recipe 


This recipe is very similar to the original milk and oil batter for poppy seed cake we all knew from our wheat flour days.

Bob’s Red Mill version of this cake uses cornflour, cornstarch and tapioca flour. I subbed almond flour for the cornstarch and still used Bob’s Read Mill gluten-free cornflour and tapioca starch/flour, less xanthan gum, and baked in a Bundt pan with lemon juice and sugar glaze. How I always made it pre-gluten-free-diet. I find that I usually decrease the amount of xanthan gum in an online recipe.  The amount of xanthan gum needed in my opinion depends on which flours and starches are used, many flours and starches have been used for years in ethnic recipes without needing xanthan gum.  The amount of eggs also make a difference as the protein and binding power of an egg helps…


  • 2/3 c + 1 Tbsp (3 oz) cornflour (Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free fine cornmeal)
  • 3/4 c (2+3/4 oz) almond flour
  • 1/4 c (1oz, 28 g) tapioca starch
  • 2 tsp (10ml) gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (3ml) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (3 ml) xanthan gum
  • 1/2 c (120 ml, 4 fl oz) milk of choice at room temperature
  • 1/2 c oil (I use sunflower or avocado oil)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) sugar
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon zest, at least one large lemon
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) gluten-free almond extract
  • sliced almonds for pan

Filling and topping:

  • 1 c (500 ml) heavy or whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (30ml)
  • 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) rum, brandy, amaretto – always optional
  • 1 lb (500g)  fresh strawberries, sliced and lightly sugared, preferably night before so strawberries give up their juice and are sweetened. If strawberries are wonderfully sweet, no need to add sugar. Keep some whole for garnish.

Almond Toffee

  • 1 c (4 oz, 125 g) sliced/flaked almonds, toasted for 10 minutes
  • 1/2 c (120 ml)  sugar
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) water


  1. Grease and gluten-free flour 10″ bundt pan. I use Asian, extra fine white rice flour for dusting as far cheaper than gluten-free flours. I also cook this in 2 x 8″ (20 cm) cake pans.  If you don’t have 8″ cake pans, your local grocery store should have 8″ foil cake pans (not pie plates). I use and reuse them, spray and gluten-free flour and they turn out cleanly and easily, then handwash. They’re more stable if you place empty foil pan on cookie sheet, then pour in batter and bake foil pan resting on cookie sheet. Sprinkle base of pan with sliced almonds.
  2. Beat everything together for 2-3 minutes until you see plenty of air bubbles.
  3. Pour in batter. I sprinkle almonds on top of each of the 8″ cake pans.
  4. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes. About 25-30 minutes for foil pans. Cake should be light golden brown on top, set but soft to the touch. Remember every oven differs.

Lemon Glaze

Lemon Bundt Cake: slowly heat juice of 2 small lemons with 1 c sugar until sugar melts. If you don’t let sugar melt completely, then it crystallizes once it’s poured on cake. Let cake cool for 10 minutes. Loosen edges with thin spatula. I like to remove cake from pan, pour some lemon syrup mix in bottom of pan and replace cake adding rest of lemon syrup mix so that cake is soaked all around and not just on top. Leave for a few minutes, then turn out onto serving plate.

Layer Cake: juice of 1/2 lemon melted with 1/4 c sugar. I added 1 Tbsp rum (or brandy, amaretto). Remove cakes from foil pans, leave top side down and brush what will be inside of cake with lemon syrup.

Almond Toffee:

  1. Put a 12 ” (30 cm) square piece of foil on a cookie sheet. Slowly melt sugar and water in 4 c (1 ltr) pan until sugar is totally dissolved.
  2. Increase heat and boil until sugar goes a golden brown color. You can see this happening and this small quantity at high heat can brown and then burn in a few minutes. You can swirl sugar syrup in pan by holding it. Do not use a wooden spoon or spatula, sugar will crystallize. Also sugar often won’t caramelize on a humid or rainy day, so don’t try. Once caramel is golden brown, add hot toasted almonds, stir well and pour onto foil, spread out with wooden spoon.  Not your fingers. Sugar burns are very nasty, so be careful and don’t make toffee/caramel with kids around.
  3. Let almond toffee cool and go hard.  Break up to put on top of cake just before serving. The toffee will soften if left on whipped cream for too long.


Whip cream, sugar, and rum, etc. You can add a pinch of xanthan gum to stabilize cream.

Bundt pan: Smother with cream, fill center hole with strawberries and put some around outside of cake. Sprinkle with almond toffee before serving.

Layer cake: Put half sliced strawberries on bottom layer of cake on cake plate. Top with almost half the whipped cream. Place second layer cake on top. Add more sliced strawberries, cover with cream, and pipe some of the whipped cream on cake. Garnish with some strawberries and sprinkle with almond toffee pieces.

It does keep well in the fridge, but remove from fridge at least half an hour before serving, so cake can soften. I’ve even lightly nuked a slice to get fresh from oven softness to a slice without melting cream.


Think you may have celiac disease?

Symptoms Checklist