Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake(s)

I've learned my lesson with the Bundt cakes recipe book and now I can easily spot where the errors are. Two cups of flour do not translate into 500g but 240g. You can imagine how off my recipes were when I was trying to make them by weight? But it is OK, now that I learned the trick to double check the quantities in both measurements, things look more encouraging.

I promised to come back with some tricks I learned during my baking researches and I would like to share them with you here. This is the science of baking so read them carefully.

One thing I noticed is that some recipes call for baking powder while some are calling for baking soda. Some, like this one, is calling for both. Have you ever wondered why and when to use one or another?

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate): 

  • Baking soda is an alkaline substance that reacts only with acidic ingredients like buttermilk, lemon juice, cocoa/chocolate, sour cream, brown sugar, yoghurt, vinegar. If none of them is between your cake ingredients, then the baking soda does not help rising your cake. 
  • As a general rule, use 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of acid ingredient.

Baking powder: 

  • Baking powder instead is more versatile as it is a combination of baking soda (base), cream of tartar (acid) and a bit of cornstarch (to block the reaction between the two while on the shelf). So, in its chemical structure, it already contains an acid.
  • As a general rule, use 2 teaspoon baking powder per cup of flour. 
  • too much use of baking powder in a cake gives a metallic, more salty and acidic taste

Baking soda is more powerful than baking powder. If substituted by baking powder, you need to add a higher quantity for baking powder. (usually a 1:3 ratio, for example, 1 teaspoon of baking soda can be replaced by 3 teaspoons of baking powder)

Neither baking soda nor powder is particularly healthful or harmful when used in the usual quantities. They are however chemically obtained substances used in baking (and not only).

You use both when there is not enough acid ingredients and you need an extra lift from the baking powder.

None of them will match the benefits of a cake risen by sourdough but this is another story.

Enough with the leavening agents, let's talk about this cake(s).

I've got this silicone set of moulds some time ago and Ifind that they create an incredible visually pleasant cake. I have not used hem very often because they are not very practical: they are difficult to fill in (not like metallic bundt pans) and they have a very small size. The little ones are even smaller than a normal size cupcake and the big one probably doesn't take more than 3-4 cups of butter. But they look super nice together and I love them.

They rose nicely in the oven which is a good sign that the balance of ingredients was right. The batter looked like a batter and I had great hopes before baking them. I wish I had known the quantity I needed for all of these moulds before as a cup more would have been perfect to fill in in full the big bundt.

However, I am very happy with the end result. Especially that after reducing the sugar in almost a quarter from the original recipe (but sssht, this is our secret!)


  • 560g all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 100g sugar
  • 140g vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs (163g )
  • 2 heap spoons poppy seeds
  • 2 heap spoons lemon zest
  • 62g freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 128g milk

  1. Preheat the oven at 180ºC.
  2. In a bowl mix the flour with baking soda, baking powder and salt
  3. In a standing mixer bowl add the oil and sugar and mix well at a medium speed with the whisk attachment.
  4. Add the eggs one by one while continuing to mix.
  5. Add the poppy seeds, zest and lemon juice and continue to mix
  6. Slow down the speed of the mixer and add the flour mixture spoon by spoon. When the composition thickens, pour a bit of the milk alternatively with the remaining flour.
  7. If you use metalling moulds, butter them and dust them with flour. I used silicone moulds and this step is not needed. Fill the moulds 50-66% of the volume as they will rise substantially in the oven.
  8. Bake at 180ºC for 30 minutes (if the moulds are small) or more if your pan/moulds are bigger. How much? Test with a stick to get out clean when inserted in the cake(s).

Recipe inspired but heavily adapted from Beautiful Bundts by Julie Anne Hession.


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