chamomile lemon poppy seed loaf cake

chamomile lemon loaf cake | two red bowls

chamomile lemon loaf cake | two red bowls

If you couldn’t tell from this blog, B2 and I are about the unfanciest people in the world.  Most of the time, being a lawyer is just as unfancy (and for me generally consists of (a) sitting at a desk, (b) clicking things on a screen, and (c) wondering what on earth I’m doing).  But every once in a blue moon, our firms decide to celebrate something or other in which we have a very small part, and invite us to a fancy place we’d probably never otherwise go.  So this is how I got to tag along with B2 to a nice dinner last year when one of his firm’s cases settled, where we sat at the kiddie end of the table and talked to the other junior associates about the most pressing legal issues of the day (i.e. the best time of day to find free snacks in the break room) while eating pretty and delicious food.

Even though I loved everything about dinner, the beautifully-plated this-and-thats, my favorite part was actually afterwards, when they (to my surprise) placed little sunshine-y lemon poppy seed muffins in front of us to take home.  I don’t know what it says about me that a cutely-wrapped baked good in a patterned tulip liner all for me can win me over quicker than anything else, but it was pretty much how I imagine the perfect, classic lemon poppy seed — a fine, closed crumb, rich but not too buttery, sweet and lively with a gentle crunch from the poppy seeds.  According to the server, it was for “breakfast the next day,” which I interpreted as “second dessert right now,” and I ended up at home with about seven more stuffed into my purse from anyone who didn’t want theirs.  (Maybe I enjoyed it so visibly that everyone around me figured it was going to a better cause.)

So that happened a whole nine or ten months ago, and ever since I had the last of my seven muffins I’ve been waiting for citrus season to roll around so that I could try to make them in my own kitchen.  Umpteen recipe tests later, this little loaf is what resulted.  I was hoping the most for that silky, dense crumb from the muffins I hoarded, and happily got it from Greek yogurt for moisture and a combination of butter and oil, which, after this test way back when, I’ve generally loved for a cake that is substantial but not heavy or dry.  There’s lemon zest rubbed into the sugar plus lemon juice in the batter for a bright but not too tart flavor, and, just because I’ve been waiting to revisit chamomile and lemon together, the loaf is brushed with chamomile syrup for a slight floral twist.  You can make it as a single loaf or as muffins, with Meyer lemons or regular, but any of those ways, I think it’s a perfect dose of sweet citrus sunshine for these dreary January days.

I hope you’re all having wonderful Wednesdays and staying warm and cozy!

This post is in collaboration with Whole Foods Market.  You can find the 365 unsalted butter and soy milk I used here or any other 365 Everyday Value product at Whole Foods for 10% off this weekend, from January 15 to January 17.  Thank you to Whole Foods for sponsoring this post!

chamomile lemon loaf cake | two red bowls

chamomile lemon loaf cake | two red bowls

chamomile lemon loaf cake | two red bowls

chamomile lemon loaf cake | two red bowls

Chamomile lemon poppyseed loaf cake

makes one small 8x4 loaf (I used this tin) or about 12 muffins.


  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup (4 tbsp, 2 oz, or 57 g) Greek yogurt (or other yogurts; see Notes)
  • 1 tbsp milk, any kind (I love this 365 Everyday Value Soy Milk; you can also sneak in more chamomile tea here)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest (from about 2-3 lemons; Meyer lemons would be wonderful if you can find them, but any kind will work)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 oz, or 67 g) 365 Everyday Value Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • for the chamomile syrup:
  • 1/4 cup strong chamomile tea (see Notes)
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x4-inch loaf tin or a 12-well muffin tin with parchment paper. If you haven’t already, brew a half-cup of very strong chamomile tea (see Notes below for the proportions I used) and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a Pyrex measuring cup or a small bowl, combine yogurt and milk and whisk until smooth. For a stronger chamomile flavor, use a tablespoon of the tea instead of milk.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Using your fingers, rub the lemon zest into the sugar until fragrant, about a minute or so. (This helps release the flavor more fully.) Add the softened butter and oil, and beat with an electric beater or plenty of arm strength until the mixture is pale and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until incorporated. Finally, add the lemon juice, and whisk again until combined.
  4. Add a third of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and fold until just combined. Next, add half of the yogurt mixture and gently fold again. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the remaining yogurt mixture, folding gently until just combined after each addition. Finally, add the remaining third of the dry ingredients and -- you guessed it -- fold gently until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the loaf tin or muffin tin, filling about 3/4 full. For the loaf tin, bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cake is golden-brown, bounces back when touched, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For the muffins, bake 15-18 minutes, or until domed, bounces back when touched, and a toothpick comes out clean. The muffins should be paler when fully-baked, just gently golden on the edges.
  6. Meanwhile, bring the chamomile tea and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Let simmer for about a minute, until the liquid thickens just slightly, then remove from heat and let cool.
  7. When the cake is done, let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the loaf pan. Brush the chamomile syrup over the loaf (you can poke holes in the top to let the syrup soak in more fully, if you like). And enjoy! Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature; the cake will be just as good the next day and will keep for several.


For a "strong chamomile tea," I found 1 tablespoon loose leaf chamomile or 1 tea bag for 4 oz boiling water made for a brew that was strong enough to infuse the cake with a good, subtle flavor, but you could go with more or less tea leaves depending on your preference, and you can even chill the tea overnight (unstrained) for a stronger flavor. You can also substitute the milk for an extra tablespoon of tea, if you like -- I have made it both ways, and both work wonderfully.

Feel free to substitute other yogurts of your choice -- if your yogurt is a bit runnier than classic Greek yogurt, you may want to omit the tablespoon of milk and use 5 tablespoons of yogurt, instead.


  1. danielle is rooting the sun says:

    January 13, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Cynthia this loaf is so bright and beautiful, just what these gray skies need – as well lemon poppy seed is my all time favorite. I have to giggle because I too, from one time or another, have ended up as the extras in the purse lady (best cause). The addition of chamomile is the loveliest note. xo

  2. says:

    January 13, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Chamomile and lemon.. yes yes yes… So I basically “drink” this loaf in tea form everyday.. There is a bakery here that makes these meyer lemon buttermilk muffins.. and they are orgasmic.. (I hate that word but that is the only way I can think to describe them accurately) Can wait to try this loaf.

  3. says:

    January 13, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Haha, I would also be the person who takes all the muffins home if people didn’t want them, otherwise they’d just go to waste, and who would want that? This loaf is so bright and citrusy, just looking at the loaf makes me go “oh hello!”- it’s just what I need to liven up winter!

  4. says:

    January 13, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Oh my god lemon poppyseed anything GET ON MEEEEE. I’ve been on SUCH a lemon poppy kick since my brother made those endless loaves over winter break–fully obsessed! But I’ve been wanting to try a healthier/smaller batch version of the recipe he made, so thanks for this!! This seriously looks so perfectly yellow and sunshine-y and full of delicious zest and lemony goodness and with a chamomile soak?! Genius. Love this, Cynthia!!! (And I will snap you my results! 😉

  5. says:

    January 13, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Gorgeous cake and gorgeous photos. I love the idea of lemon and poppy seeds and scoping leftovers from the conference rooms. I don’t think I’ve ever had a significant other invite to any firm event, which is totally weird. I love that you pulled inspiration from it, making any awkwardness in those fancy lunches much much better! Be well!

  6. says:

    January 13, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Cynthia this sounds perfect! You had me already at the title. Lemon, chamomille and poppy seeds are a favorite combo for mine! At least in my head because I’m not sure I’ve ever tried it?? But somehow I always crave it when I see it and I’m convinced it’s the best thing on earth! Haha maybe I’m so excited about the idea that I’m afraid it won’t be as good once I try it? Here in Sweden it’s common to make almond lemon sponge cake in a loaf tin like that, and I imagine this will be somewhat similar. Maybe this will be the recipe that I’m actually making… 😉


  7. says:

    January 13, 2016 at 11:41 am

    OMG!! This recipe is pulling at all my heart strings. There is nothing like moist, sweet, and citrus-y bread AND a good TRB post to perk slow mornings and cold days! Ogling now, baking tomorrow. Can’t wait to try!!

  8. says:

    January 13, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    I would have definitely taken home all those muffins too! I have also been trying to find the perfect lemon poppy seed recipe. Whenever I get one from a bakery I just want to know how the hell they make them so moist and yummy! I one time asked them and they did mention yogurt being their secret weapon. I’m sure you worked really hard to get it right so we don’t have too! Thanks as always!

  9. Erica says:

    January 13, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    This just totally brightened up my Wednesday. I’m in love with how beautiful the cake is and I can only imagine how it tastes!! <3

  10. says:

    January 13, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    These are just the most sunshine-y photos ever. Perfect for these January days (SO. Much. Rain.) And I too love using greek yogurt in cakes and baking! Such a versatile ingredient!!

    Glad you ended up having that muffin (all 7 of them!) since it yielded this deliciousness 🙂 🙂

  11. says:

    January 14, 2016 at 4:49 am

    I would have been most excited about the dessert too, and lemon poppyseed muffins, yum! This loaf looks super delish! I can’t wait to try it!

  12. says:

    January 14, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Loved to read about your restaurant experience. Every restaurant should give a take-home sweet something to their customers, right? Such a nice gesture.
    Lemon and poppy seeds is a classic flavor combination but what I’m really excited about is that you also added chamomile. So great, lady! xx

  13. says:

    January 15, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Mmmmm! I can see the close crumbs, Cynthia, I see them!!! Those slices look truly perfect and bursting with sunshiny flavor. This kind is one of my favorite simple combinations, but it’s frustrating that I rarely get the right taste when using poppy seeds. I don’t know if this common, but for some reason I haven’t been able to get that STRONG flavor like you’d get from the ones at the bakery.

    • tworedbowls says:

      January 17, 2016 at 11:09 am

      Hmm I wonder why that is! Have you ever seen this cake by Deb at Smitten Kitchen? She talks about how she loves the poppy seed flavor / insane amount of poppy seeds in that recipe 🙂 I wonder if that would have the poppy seed flavor you’re looking for! Or maybe you could double the poppy seeds in this recipe and decrease the flour by a tablespoon or so? Fingers crossed you find the lemon poppy seed loaf of your dreams!! Thank you so much for the sweet words, Ellie!

  14. Kelsey says:

    January 17, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    I just made this with my mom after seeing your link on How Sweet Eats. It is absolutely delicious, and definitely a recipe I’ll be coming back to! My tea times just got more fabulous 🙂 Thank you for sharing!!

    • tworedbowls says:

      January 18, 2016 at 11:10 am

      Oh my gosh, yay!!! Thank you so much for trying the recipe and for letting me know. Reading this has made my day. Thank you!

  15. says:

    January 17, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Ahhh, this is so stunning Cynthia! I’m always looking for ways to use chamomile, I love the flavor so much. I can imagine how perfect that glaze must taste with the lemony loaf. Hahaha, “second desserts right now” – I would have been right there with you. I mean, it wasn’t getting any fresher was it?

  16. Kim says:

    January 18, 2016 at 2:11 am

    You recently had a photo up of apple scones however, I cannot find the recipe on your blog. Could you share that one please?

    • tworedbowls says:

      January 18, 2016 at 11:08 am

      Hi Kim! That recipe is actually adapted from an oat & raisin buttermilk scone recipe in Homemade Memories, a cookbook by Kate at The Little Loaf. Here’s a similar scone recipe she has up on her site that looks delicious — for an apple-cinnamon version, I just added some diced apple (I’d say somewhere around 1/3 to 1/2 cup), a teaspoon of cinnamon (dial down a bit depending on how much you like cinnamon), and a pinch of nutmeg into the dry ingredients. I hope that helps!! Also, I’ve never tried this one but King Arthur Flour has an apple-cinnamon scone recipe on their site that looks like it got rave reviews!

  17. Danielle says:

    January 22, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    I just made this today with regular lemons and it was absolutely delicious! My aunt happens to have Meyer lemons in her backyard and so I’m planning to make it again later for a family get together 🙂 thank you so much for this recipe!!

    • tworedbowls says:

      January 28, 2016 at 6:45 pm

      Oh my goodness, YAY! That makes me so so happy — thank you so much for trying the recipe and for letting me know. You made my day.

  18. Gigi lange says:

    January 30, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Just made this and it was like a little bit of sunshine in my life. I just happened to have 2 Meyer lemons from my tree and a chamomile tea bag from a tea company as a freebie. Couldn’t have come at the best time. So good. Thanks for posting such good recipes!

  19. says:

    February 1, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Would never guess that you aren’t fancy by the looks of all of your photos here. 😉 One of my fave teas is the lemon chamomile for the republic of tea and so happy to see you’ve turned that combo into bread!

  20. Elizabeth says:

    February 2, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Hi! I just made this cake but didn’t have any chamomile tea so I used green tea. I just wanted to let you know how delicious it was. It was surprisingly moist and still seemed light and fluffy. I will definitely make it again with chamomile once my box of Meyer lemons arrives in the mail.

  21. Adeline says:

    April 5, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Hi! I just discovered your blog and everything looks delicious! I love the idea of this cake! I was just wondering : did you ever try to infuse the tea in the milk? It could add a great flavor, no?

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