This vegan lemon poppy seed cake is the perfect breakfast loaf when you want something sweet! It’s bursting with flavor, full of hints of lemon and coconut, and perfectly moist! All you need is 15 minutes of prep time, a loaf pan and plenty of lemons!
This loaf was inspired by a Lemon Loaf by Erin Ireland of To Die for Fine Foods I had the pleasure of eating in Vancouver, BC a couple of years ago. Erin’s known for her banana bread and while I thought the banana bread was really, really good, I was most impressed with her lemon loaf.
It was SO BUTTERY and SO LEMONY it was crazy. I couldn’t believe it was vegan! If you ever get the chance to visit Vancouver or live there, her loaves are a must!
Of course her recipe is top secret, but I did my best to recreate it. And I must say, I did pretty good!
Why This Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Recipe Works!
The best part of lemon poppy seed cake is how moist, buttery and delicious it is. The last thing anyone wants is a dry, crumbly cake. And this vegan version is no exception!
I used canned coconut milk and vegan yogurt to give this recipe that same indulgent taste you’d get with a cake made with buttermilk and non vegan butter.
I also included tons of fresh lemon zest to really make the flavors pop! Don’t skimp on the lemon zest, it really makes this breakfast cake incredible!
I won’t go over every ingredient here, but there are a few I’d like to point out that really make this bread extra special that I do not suggest substituting.
- shredded coconut – The shredded coconut in this cake not only provides delicious earthy notes of coconut, but also helps this cake retain moisture!
- toasted quinoa – provides a really amazing nutty taste and gives this cake depth in flavor.
- canned coconut milk – The rich and creaminess of a can of coconut milk works perfectly here to emulate the flavors of pound cake without dairy products. You could use a lower fat plant-based milk option here, but I recommend the canned coconut milk as nothing is quite as creamy.
- lemon juice and lemon zest – When I first tested this recipe, the loaf was moist and buttery, but it wasn’t lemony enough. The second time around I really increased the lemon zest and it made ALL THE DIFFERENCE. Don’t skip this. It’s a game changer.
Step By Step Instructions
- In separate bowls, mix together the dry and wet ingredients.
- Once mixed, create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just mixed.
- Pour the mixture into a 9×5 loaf pan. I lined the bottom of my loaf pan with a piece of parchment and then buttered the sides for easy removal!
- After baking remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to sit in the baking pan for about 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a baking rack.
- While it cools, prepare the glaze, if using!
- Finally, pour the glaze over the cooled loaf and top with additional shredded coconut. YUM.
Can I use more coconut milk instead of vegan yogurt? No, I wouldn’t. The vegan yogurt is serving two purposes – providing the tanginess you would get from traditional buttermilk and binding this bread together without the use of eggs.
Can I use melted vegan butter instead of coconut oil? Yes. I really prefer the coconut oil as it compliments the shredded coconut and coconut milk, but vegan butter will work.
Why does the vegan yogurt and coconut milk have to be room temperature? Using room temperature ingredients makes for a lighter, fluffier, more tender cake. Cold ingredients do not emulsify together as nicely and will not be the same! It will also harden your coconut oil and make your cake oilier in certain spots and drier in others. Trust me!
How long will it take for my ingredients to come to room temperature? I’d take the ingredients out of the refrigerator 1 hour prior to baking!
- Store this bread at room temperature. Once refrigerated, it gets far more dense and not as good. Storing at room temp will keep it moist and fluffy!
- I said it before, and I’ll say it again…Don’t skimp on the lemon zest!
- Gently fold the ingredients together when mixing. Overly mixed batter will result in a dense, tough cake.
This would be such a good recipe for Mother’s Day or when you’re craving a fun vegan breakfast! Or if you just need something to cheer you up. This will definitely do the trick.
More Vegan Baking Recipes
- Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Scones
- Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
- Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins
- Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (1 Bowl!)
Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Lemon Icing (optional)
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon coconut milk
- ½ cup shredded coconut - or enough to cover the top of the loaf (your preference!)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 9x5 baking pan with a piece of parchment paper. See photo in post for reference. I buttered the two sides not covered with parchment paper with vegan butter.
- Toast your quinoa in a dry skillet for 3-5 minutes or until toasted. They will be slightly golden brown, fragrant, and a few of them might pop. Remove from heat and add to large mixing bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients (toasted quinoa, all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, shredded coconut, poppy seeds, baking soda, and salt).
- In a separate bowl, mix together all of the wet ingredients, including the cane sugar.
- Create a well in the middle of your dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently fold together until the wet is incorporated into the dry.
- Transfer loaf batter to your parchment lined baking pan and spread evenly.
- Bake for 60-70 minutes. You know the loaf is finished baking when a knife comes cleanly out of the loaf.
- Allow the lemon loaf to cool in the baking pan for 10 minutes before transferring it to cool completely on a baking rack.
- If you are icing your loaf, mix together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and coconut milk until smooth. Pour on top of the completely cool lemon loaf. Sprinkle on shredded coconut to your liking. Enjoy!
- Storage: Store this lemon loaf in an airtight container or gallon ziplock bag at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- I have not tried freezing this loaf.
- Using room temperature vegan yogurt and coconut milk is crucial to preventing the coconut oil from hardening in the batter and keeping this loaf light and fluffy.
General note about salt
Please pay attention to the type of salt called for in the recipe (if applicable). Not all salts are made equal and cannot be substituted 1 for 1. If you are substituting table salt for kosher salt, you will need to cut the amount called for in the recipe by at least half.
Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.