Citrus Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I am an ambivalent birthday cake chooser. Contrary to popular belief and baking evidence I am not actually a cake person. Shock! Horror! I am a cookie person. A brownie person. A deep dense fudgy flavour filled person. Cake is interesting. I love to bake it. I love to decorate it. I love the frosting. People, really, it is all about the frosting.

So this year, I listed my top three options for my family and let the popular vote decide. Their choices: Citrus Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Chai Tea Cake with Vanilla Buttercream, or Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and Sprinkles.

Their decision: Citrus Poppy Seed Cake came out the victor with two votes (Mum and Jess); Dad voted thus – ‘Just Cake’ (in 72 point font); and Chris put in an outside bet with Chocolate Cake (sorry babe, not an option this year).

And so, last Saturday night when I had already stuffed myself full of brownies, caramel corn, chocolate caramel slice, and cheese, I also got to have a big slice of this gluten free citrus filled layer cake with sharp and smooth cream cheese frosting. The frosting is, of course, my favourite part of this venture. I may have to remake this very soon. Sometimes you just need cake, no birthday required.

Citrus Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten free) | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Citrus Poppy Seed Cake

Gluten Free. 

I am a little nervous sometimes of cooking gluten free cakes. You hear all kinds of horror stories – too dry! Too crumbly! Too wet! Too gummy! But with a little consideration of the flours you use a birthday cake is not too far away. A delicious, poppy seed filled birthday cake at that. Of course, if you do not require this to be gluten free, you can use the equivalent weight in plain flour.


  • 40 grams poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange rind
  • 1 tablespoon lemon rind
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 90 grams sorghum flour
  • 75 grams brown rice flour
  • 60 grams white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup orange juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 160C (320F). Butter two 8-inch round cake tins and line the bottoms with baking paper.
  2. Mix poppy seeds into the milk and allow to soak for 15 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the sorghum flour, brown rice flour, white rice flour, almond meal and baking powder.
  4. In a large mixing bowl beat together butter, sugar, and orange and almond rinds until light and fluffy. This will take about 3 minutes.
  5. Beat in eggs one at a time, scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition.
  6. Add vanilla and beat to combine.
  7. Add flour mixture, yoghurt, orange juice and poppy seed milk mixture and beat until just combined.
  8. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Smooth the tops with a cake scraper. Place cake in pre-heated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Swap positions halfway through cooking time. If the cake starts to brown too quickly on top cover with aluminium foil and continue cooking. Test cake with a wooden skewer to check that they are cooked all the way through. Only a few moist crumbs should cling to the skewer.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before icing (see below).
  10. To ice and decorate the cake: trim one layer so that the top is flat and place this layer on your cake stand or plate. Spread half the frosting on this layer. Place second layer on top. Fit a piping bag with a medium size round tip and fill with the remaining cream cheese frosting. Decorate the top with large dobs of frosting. If you do not wish to pip the top of the frosting, you can always spread the frosting on top with a flat bladed knife. Refrigerate cake until needed. Take out of fridge ten minutes before serving.

Citrus Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten free) | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Cream Cheese Frosting

You should definitely feel free to use this frosting for many other uses. It tastes delicious on top of red velvet cupcakes, sandwiched between cookies, or as I am sometimes want to do, licked directly off the spoon in large quantities. This frosting is not for the faint of heart.


  • 250 grams cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 3-4 cups of icing sugar


  1. In a medium size bowl beat together the cream cheese, lemon juice, vanilla essence, and 3 cups of the icing sugar until smooth.
  2. If your mixture is too runny beat in the extra cup of icing sugar.
  3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before use.

Citrus Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten free) | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Tell me, dear reader, how do you feel about your birthday cake? How do you choose? Or, do you take an alternate route to birthday celebrations and do cookies or brownies?

10 thoughts on “Citrus Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Great cake!!! Great choice. I love cake. I love cookies and brownies too, but I really lerrrve cake. It has to be good cake though. And this looks like a really good one.

    I’ve made my own birthday cake for as long as I can remember. Hence, always get to choose my own cake. I am also the Grand Grand Poobah of all birthday cake baking for my family and most of my friends. It’s my youngest sons birthday tomorrow and he has requested a chocolate pie. I’ve made birthday cheesecakes and birthday brownies and birthday pavs before, but never birthday pie. I’m game.

  2. oh i AM a cake lover, of the chocolate-chocolate variety. 🙂 but then i’m ALSO a cookie lover like you…hehe. 🙂 that looks delicious and i have to say i’ve got a BIG weakness for the cream cheese kind of frosting. heck, i’d take a spoon and lick that as a dessert by itself if it’s around, again we’re similar. 🙂
    that looks DELICIOUS and i’m certain you had a wonderful time with your lovely family!

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