Lemon poppy seed loaf cake topped with frosting, lemon zest and poppy seeds with two slices next to it

Gluten-Free Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

This Gluten-Free Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cake is moist and fluffysweet and tangy and a little nutty from the poppy seeds! It's also covered in a rich, lemony frosting. 
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword gluten-free lemon poppy seed cake, gluten-free vegan cake, vegan lemon poppy seed cake
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 10 slices
Calories 356kcal
Author Rhian Williams


For the cake:

  • 60 g (1/4 cup) coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
  • 8 tablespoons (8 tablespoons) lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) lemon zest (use unwaxed lemons)
  • 12 tablespoons (12 tablespoons) maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
  • 1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • Pinch (Pinch) salt
  • 3 tablespoons (3 tablespoons) poppy seeds
  • 150 g (1 1/4 cup) ground almonds (almond meal) *
  • 150 g (1 1/4 cup) gluten-free flour blend (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons (2 heaped teaspoons ) baking powder (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1/4 teaspoon) bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

For the frosting:

  • 100 g (2/3 cup) raw cashew nuts soaked in cold water overnight or in hot water for 15 minutes
  • 6 tablespoons (4 tablespoons) maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
  • 4 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) lemon juice

To decorate (optional):

  • Lemon zest
  • Poppy seeds


For the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Place the coconut oil in a large bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave (skip this step if using any other oil)
  • Once melted, add the milk to the same bowl along with the lemon juice, lemon zest, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, poppy seeds and ground almonds
  • Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
  • Mix well, adding a tiny splash more milk if it’s looking too dry
  • Transfer mixture into a loaf tin lined with greased baking paper (I used a one-pound loaf tin)
  • Bake in oven for 45 minutes until risen and golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean
  • Once out the oven, transfer the cake from the baking tin onto a wired rack to leave it to cool completely before applying the frosting

For the frosting:

  • Drain the soaked cashews and add to a food processor or blender with the maple syrup and lemon juice
  • Whizz until completely smooth, adding some plant-based milk or water to thin out if necessary

To frost and decorate the cake:

  • Use a knife (or palette knife) to spread frosting over the top of the loaf
  • Decorate with lemon zest and poppy seeds, if desired
  • This cake tasted best eaten on the day it was made, but keeps covered in the fridge for up to a few days


*You can alternatively use almond flour

Tips for baking with lemons

  • For optimum lemon flavour, I would recommend using fresh lemons (not ones that you've had sitting in your fruit bowl for weeks!) and organic ones if possible.
  • You have to be careful when baking with lemon juice as the acidity and lemon flavour can really vary depending on the lemons you use.
  • I would recommend tasting the lemon juice you're using and adjusting the amount of lemon juice you use accordingly.
  • For the lemon zest, make sure you use unwaxed lemons.


Calories: 356kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 56mg | Potassium: 205mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 154mg | Iron: 2mg