Vanilla Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Lemon-Lime Sugar

Muffins and cupcakes are generally the way I like my cakes. In the few years that I have been baking, I think 90% of everything I have made are in the shape and form of cupcakes/muffins. Personal, handheld, portable portions just appeal so much to me.

Also, I’ve never  frosted many of them. I think so far, I’d frosted maybe… 5 batches of cupcakes before? I’ve always been that kid that scrapes off all the cream on top of a cake. Over the years, I’ve come to respect and appreciate frostings or any kind of cake topping, though I would try not to if I could help it. I like my cakes rustic and real. No guise of extra sweetness to interfere with the actual flavours of the cake.

That said, I couldn’t help but to pinch the idea of sugared lime zest and use it so spruce up this Vanilla Poppy Seed Cupcakes. Vanilla has a floral fragrance, poppy seeds provide the crunch and nuttiness. I wanted something subtle to bring everything to life without the all that frosting and cream or butter: hence zesty lemon-lime sugar. It really worked to bring on an extra dimension of fragrance.

So to make this, we need: Flour, Butter, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Sugar, Milk, Eggs, Poppy Seeds, Vanilla Bean (or extract), Lime & Lemon Zest
Vanilla Poppy Seed Cupcakes

I started by making the sugared zest just so the oils in the zest gets time to infuse the sugar. By rubbing the zest with the into the sugar, you get more fragrance out of it. And lovely smelling fingers after. Win-win!Zesty Sugar

For the cupcake part, it always starts with creaming butter with sugar. That’s a given. Except if you’re making my favourite chocolate cake, which I would certainly share on here soon.Vanilla Poppy Seed Cupcakes 3

Mr Eggy goes in. Well, actually there are 3 Mr Eggs. They jump into the bowl one by one.Vanilla Poppy Seed Cupcakes 4

Then our favourite part comes! Just like several cake recipes we’ve done, after mixing up the dry ingredients (flour & leavening agents), it’s whisked into that buttery mixture alternately with the milk. I’m not sure if that previous sentence is grammatically correct. Let’s just leave it at that. 😀

Vanilla Poppy Seed Cupcakes (Flour & Milk Alternate)

Those black bits in the milk are vanilla caviar. Not dirt. Promise!

My blue poppy seeds are folded in last. Yes, they are called blue poppy seeds. When I look at them under bright light, they do have a blue hue. Very pretty!

Vanilla Poppy Seed Cupcakes 12

Look at those dark dark streaks!!

Now it’s all about filling them cupcake liners…Vanilla Poppy Seed Cupcakes 14… and topping it with some zesty bling.

Vanilla Poppy Seed Cupcakes 13

I didn’t manage to take pictures of the entire tray of baked goodies. But I did take a picture of one cupcake for you. Vanilla Poppy Seed Cupcakes 15

Fluffy, crunchy & zesty all in one bite. This is one cupcake after my own heart. ♥

xoxoxo, Jayne

“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My lambs.” (John 21:15)

Line divider

Vanilla Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Lemon-Lime Sugar
Cupcake recipe adapted from Taste and Tell; Sugared zest inspired by Tracy Shutterbean
(makes 24 cupcakes)


2 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 cup Milk
1 tbsp Vanilla extract (I scraped seeds from one vanilla bean)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup or 170gm) Butter, at room temperature
1 cups Sugar
3 Eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp Poppy Seeds

1 tsp Lemon Zest
1 tsp Lime Zest
1/4 cup Sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (170C). Line 24 cupcake tins.
  2. To make lemon-lime zest, rub zest into 1/4 cup  sugar and set aside so oils from zests will be released into the sugar. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, mix flour with baking powder and soda.
  4. In a small bowl, Scrape vanilla bean into milk, if using, or mix in vanilla extract with milk.
  5. On a mixer or mixing bowl, first cream butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.
  6. Beat in eggs, one at a time until combined.
  7. Add 1/3 of flour into buttery mixture. Beat until just combined. Then add 1/2 milk and beat till just combined. Add in another 1/3 of flour, rest of the milk and the last 1/3 of the flour, mixing each time until just combined.
  8. Fold poppy seeds into the batter.
  9. Fill cupcake liners up to 3/4 full. Then sprinkle a pinch or two of lemon-lime sugar on top of each cupcake.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack and devour!


  1. Lovely Pantry says:

    Well this is a very fancy looking cupcake! I’m loving the flavours, Jayne! That zesty sugar looks divine! Nicely done! 🙂

    • Really? I thought it was on the simpler side. Haha. Thanks! Zest goes well with so many things! Loving your mocha cheesecake. I have to make that very soon!

  2. I agree, if a cupcake is done well, it doesn’t necessarily need any frosting. Vanilla and poppy seeds are such a lovely combination and I like the addition of lime zest for a bit of kick!

    • So happy you agree. I sometimes find frosting takes away from the cupcakes. There is a place and time for icing and frosting. Sometimes it makes it better, sometimes it’s not necessary. Thanks for your sweet words. 😉

  3. My kids would go straight to frosting, but I’m not a huge fan… For that reason, I prefer muffins over cupcakes. I love your cupcakes with vanilla and poppy seed. Citrus with sweets are one of my favorite combination too!

    • 🙂 As a kid, I never fancied frosting as well. I’d scrape everything away just to get to the cake. Weird, right? Glad you share my taste in cupcakes/muffins. If I can sneak lemon into everything I make, I probably would.

  4. I like your idea of the zesty sugar topping. Sometimes frosting can hide the flavor of the cupcake itself.

    • Thanks, Karen! It’s true.. Sometimes we should let the cupcakes speak for themselves, right? A bad cupcake cannot be masked by frosting. That’s my theory.

  5. What a refreshing and delectable cupcake! I say, your lime sugar topping is way better than any frosting. 😉 I usually don’t like frosting on my cupcakes….except Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Which the later is not just sweet but really creamy, and when I beat in real fruit, that add lots of real flavors too. 😛 LOL…I’m getting hungry just by typing. I better go off and bake some of these vanilla poppy seed cupcakes.

    • Thanks Amy! I feel like I’m kinda a cupcake snob.haha.. But if I did have some of your fruity Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I’d be glad to devour it with cupcakes. Or on it’s own. Whatever. 😛


  1. […] as many previous cake recipes I’ve shared, we fold in the flour & milk mixture alternately to retain as […]

Tell me more!