Soft, moist, and loaded with citrus, this quick Orange Poppy Seed Cake is made in a bundt pan or loaf pan, brushed with orange syrup, and topped with icing. It has a nice open crumb texture and is just the right amount of sweet!
Published:1/6/21; Republished 6/8/22
This orange poppy seed bundt cake takes a simple vanilla oil cake (without butter) and uses sour cream to give it that rich, moist texture. The sugar gets blended together with orange peels to provide maximum citrus orange flavor.
After baking, the cake is brushed with an orange syrup that soaks into the warm cake. Once cool, top it with a quick glaze packed with orange zest! This orange poppy seed cake is SO flavorful (without being overly sweet) and stays moist for days.
The recipe can be made as either a Bundt Cake or an orange poppy seed loaf cake. See the recipe card for instructions on how to make both. You're going to love how soft and perfect this is!
If you're looking for a variation of this cake, you can also try my Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Or, if you'd like more bundt cakes, opt for the Lemon Ricotta Cake with Blueberry Glaze or Raspberry White Chocolate Bundt Cake!
- Dry Ingredients. All-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Oranges. Zest & juice! You'll need about four to five large oranges for this recipe.
- Granulated sugar. The first step of the recipe will require the blending of granulated sugar with orange peels to provide maximum orange flavor.
- Wet Ingredients. Eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, sour cream. Use all of these at room temperature!
- Poppy Seeds. Be sure they're fresh - poppy seeds can turn rather quickly.
- Powdered sugar. This is needed for the final glaze.
Note that a microplane and peeler will be needed for this recipe. It's also best if you have a food processor or blender to combine the orange peels and sugar, but is not required.
How to Make Orange Poppy Seed Cake
This really is the best orange poppy seed cake...let's make it!
STEP 1: Peel an orange using a peeler (just removing the orange part) and add to a food processor or blender with the sugar. Pulse until all of the peels break down and incorporate into the sugar.
STEP 2: Whisk together the dry ingredients. Transfer the sugar to a stand mixer and mix together the eggs, oil, and vanilla until combined.
STEP 3: Add in half of the dry ingredients, the sour cream, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing in between each addition.
STEP 4: Add the poppy seeds and orange juice last and mix until just incorporated.
STEP 5: Pour the batter into a greased and floured bundt or loaf pan and bake. While baking, heat orange juice and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and cool.
STEP 6: Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes, then turn out the bundt cake onto a platter and brush the orange syrup all over. Cool completely.
STEP 7: Once cool, mix together powdered sugar, orange zest, and orange juice until a pourable glaze forms. Cover the top of the cake, then enjoy!
Storing and Freezing
Store the orange poppy seed cake covered at room temperature for three days.
The cake can also be frozen by wrapping the entire cake (or individual slices) in plastic wrap and foil. Unwrap completely, then thaw at room temperature. If freezing, wait to add the glaze until it's thawed and you plan to eat it (rather than freezing with the glaze on it).
- Make the cake in a loaf pan rather than a bundt pan. See recipe card for instructions.
- Use sour cream, greek yogurt, or buttermilk (all full fat) interchangeably in this recipe.
- Try using blood oranges for a fun color variation, especially in the glaze!
- Cover the cake in chocolate ganache for a chocolate orange cake variation. Use my vanilla Swiss roll with chocolate ganache recipe for this glaze variation.
- Use half lemon, and half orange in the recipe for a sharper citrus flavor
- Use room temperature ingredients (egg and sour cream) for an ultra-smooth batter.
- Use a food processor or blender to combine the sugar and orange peels. If not available, zest the oranges and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until it turns orange.
- Be sure to alternate adding the dry ingredients and sour cream, ending with the dry.
- After it comes out of the oven, make sure the loaf is not resting in an overly cold area. Drastically changing temperatures can cause the loaf to fall.
More Easy Cake Recipes
- Vanilla Swiss roll Cake
- Coconut Almond Loaf Cake
- Pear Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
- Chocolate Snack Cake (with Salted Caramel Frosting)
- Lemon Ricotta Cake with Blueberry Glaze
- Raspberry White Chocolate Bundt Cake
Orange Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
- Food processor or blender
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer
- Microplane or zester
- Pastry or basting brush
- 3 cups all-purpose flour 360g
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup orange zest About 1.5 full oranges
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar 350g
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- ⅔ cups vegetable oil 160g
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
- 1⅓ cups full-fat sour cream 300g
- ⅔ cup orange juice freshly squeezed (160g)
- ¼ cup poppy seeds 36g
- ¼ cup orange juice freshly squeezed (60ml)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar 50g
- ¼ cup water 60ml
- 2 cups powdered sugar 240g
- ¼ cup orange juice freshly squeezed (60ml)
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350℉/180℃. Grease and flour a bundt pan, tapping out any excess flour.
- Peel 1½ large oranges (with a vegetable peeler) and add it to a food processor or blender with the sugar. Pulse until the peels are completely broken down and the sugar turns orange.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt until combined and set aside.
- Transfer the sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and add the eggs, oil, and vanilla extract and beat on medium low until combined.
- Alternating dry and wet ingredients with the mixer on low, add in half of the flour mixture, all of the sour cream, then the rest of flour mixture just until it comes together. Add in the orange juice and poppy seeds and mix until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs. Transfer the cake to a wire rack for 15 minutes to cool.
- While the cake is baking, prepare the simple syrup by bringing all the sugar, orange juice, and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
- If making Bundt Cake, turn out the cake onto a serving platter and brush the simple syrup all over the top (previously the bottom). If making a loaf cake, don't turn out the loaf, simply brush it on top.
- Once the loaf is completely cool, make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, orange zest, and orange juice in a bowl and mix with a whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze on top of the cake, then sprinkle with more orange zest.
- Half the recipe
- Add a parchment paper sling to the loaf pan for easy removal
- Bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with no wet batter
- Add the orange syrup while it's in the pan, but remove the cake to add the glaze