Soft, moist, and loaded with citrus, this Orange Poppy Seed Loaf is brushed with an orange simple syrup and can also be topped with a zest-packed glaze.
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Citrus and poppy seeds – a classic combination! While this Orange Poppy Seed Loaf is perfect for winter baking and the heart of citrus season, the best part is that you can make this all year round and it will be bangin’. I also know that some people have a real aversion to citrus baked goods, but just keep an open mind (and mouth) and dive right in.
While you can totally omit the glaze from this bake, if you really want to make it look pretty and step up your aesthetic game, use blood oranges! It will turn your glaze a gorgeous pink and your loaf will thank you for covering it in such a fashionable blanket.
Side note – are poppy seeds called poppy seeds because they’re wee seeds that slightly pop in your mouth when you eat them? Must research this.
This loaf is quick to throw together, and is SO soft and flavorful. The poppy seeds also add extra texture, which I love about this bread. It’s sweet, but in a fresh way, and it’s hard to say no to just one!
Ingredients for the Orange Poppy Seed batter
- All-purpose flour. I have also made this loaf with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-1 Baking Flour with great success!
- Baking powder. This activates with the sour cream and citrus, then also in the oven to give you a nice rise and that crack in the top!
- Salt. A wee bit brings out all of the flavors.
- Oranges. Zest & juice! You’ll need about four oranges for this recipe.
- Granulated sugar. Because this is how we keep cakes super m-word.
- Eggs. Room temperature so it incorporates seamlessly.
- Vegetable oil. Canola oil can also be used here. Also keeps the cake extra moist!
- Vanilla paste or extract. I do love paste, though. It’s SO much more flavorful.
- Sour cream. Room temperature so it incorporates nicely into your batter. If you forget to set it out, pop the 3/4 cup in the microwave for about 20 seconds and give it a stir.
- Poppy seeds. Obviously.
- Powdered sugar. For the glaze (optional), if that’s up your alley!
Tips for making the Orange Poppy Seed Loaf
First, it’s important to have room temperature ingredients, so plan ahead and take your eggs and sour cream out of the fridge! This is a key step to getting a nice, smooth batter.
Next, don’t skip the incorporation of the orange zest with the sugar. This releases all of the oils from the zest and combines it into the sugar, giving you a loaf with maximum flavor!
When adding the flour and sour cream, you will do so alternately (flour, sour cream, flour). Do this on low speed, and as soon as it’s incorporated, stop mixing. Over mixing your batter can lead to a tough cake, and can also whip in too much air, causing it to fall once removed from the oven.
After it comes out the oven, make sure the loaf is not resting in an overly cold area. Drastically changing temperatures can also cause the loaf to fall.
Want another recipe with poppy seeds?
Try my Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s filled with lemon curd and is so moist and flavorful!
Orange Poppy Seed Loaf
- 9 x 5 inch loaf pan
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer
- Microplane or zester
- 1½ cup flour (180g)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp orange zest About 1.5 full oranges
- 1 cup white sugar (200g)
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil (75g)
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- ¾ cup sour cream (180g)
- ⅓ cup orange juice squeezed (80g)
- 2 Tbsp poppy seeds (18g)
- 2 T orange juice squeezed (20g)
- ⅛ cup sugar (25g)
- ⅛ cup water (30g)
- ¾ cup powdered sugar (90g)
- 1-2 T orange juice, squeezed enough to make glaze to desired consistency
- 1 T Orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and parchment line a standard loaf pan (9 x 5 inch) with overhangs.
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt until combined and set aside.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or with a handheld mixer), combine the sugar and orange zest and mix on low for one minute.
- Increase the speed to medium low and add the eggs one at a time until fully combined, then add in the oil and vanilla.
- Mix to combine. 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 loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes. When done, the cake will start pulling away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Remove the loaf and transfer to a cooling rack.
- Immediately prepare the simple syrup by bringing all the sugar, orange juice, and water to a boil, then remove from the heat and brush (or carefully spoon) all over the loaf. You will use all of it.
- 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. Remove the loaf from the pan and pour the glaze over the top. Sprinkle with additional orange zest. Slice and enjoy!