These little Poppy Seed Lemon Cheesecake Crumble Bars will brighten up your day! Layers of sweet lemony dough, poppy seed filling, lemon cheesecake filing and sweet dough crumble on top make for a delicious dessert that’s pretty easy to make.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cheesecake Bars
Lemon and poppy seeds are such a classic and loved combination in the baking world and I already have an amazing mini mousse cake recipe with that combo – my Poppy Seed Lemon and Tarragon Dessert. There are many different desserts made with this combo but how can you go wrong with pairing it with a cheesecake and a crumble?
I think every cheesecake in general should have lemon juice and even zest in the filling because it adds such a beautiful dimension and freshness to it that I can’t imagine a cheesecake without a hint of lemon. Not to overpower, but to enhance the flavor! If you have never tried it I really encourage you to.
I adore plain cheesecakes the most but there are some combinations that I equally adore, like my Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake and my Apple Crumble Cheesecake Bars with Salted Caramel Sauce and you should try both!
This post is also available to see as a web story – poppy seed lemon cheesecake crumble bars web story.
American vs. European Cheesecakes
After some research I found out the poppy seed cheesecake is actually originating from Germany where it’s called Mohn Käsekuchen.
The cheesecake recipes in Europe are quite different than in the USA.
In Europe we make the crust from shortcrust instead of digestive biscuits or graham crackers that you can’t even find here. The filling is made from a type quark or cottage cheese, but from what I hear it’s hard to find the same one in the USA.
I love both type of cheesecakes even though they are quite different, but each one has it’s own charm. The European ones are usually quite lighter and a bit tangier as the quark has lower fat content that cream cheese.
I adapted this recipe from a Slovenian cookbook called Moje Najboljše Pecivo and made the filling with cream cheese (Philadelphia).
How to make Poppy Seed Lemon Cheesecake Crumble Bars
This poppy seed cheesecake is made out of 3 parts:
- Two layers of crumble dough – the dough on the top and bottom is the same, with the difference that we actually freeze half of it and then grate it over the cheesecake.
- Poppy seed filling – this is a cooked poppy seed filling with milk and egg thickened with starch. The poppy seeds should be soaked or cooked before baking to soften the outer hard shell and release more flavor. That’s why we cook the filling before baking it.
- Lemon cheesecake filling – with added lemon for amazing tanginess and flavor. And for the cream cheese I suggest using Philadephia.
The ingredients you will need:
- baking powder
- lemon juice
- lemon zest
- cream cheese
- poppy seeds
Step-by-step of making the poppy seed cheesecake
Step 1 – Make the crumble dough
This dough serves as a bottom of the cheesecake and on top as a crumble. After making the dough, you use one half to make the bottom and you put the other half in the freezer to then later grate it on top!
Step 2 – Make the poppy seed filling
The next step is to cook the poppy seeds with the milk, sugar, cornstarch and egg yolk. At the end, gently incorporate the whipped egg white and spread over the prepared dough.
Step 3 – Make the lemon cheesecake filling
In making the cheesecake filling be careful to whisk the mixture when adding the liquid part of yolks and milk to the dry part of sugar and cornstarch, so that cornstarch doesn’t form any lumps.
Or just mix the cornstarch with sugar and egg yolks, then mix in the milk. This way you also prevent the cornstarch to make lumps.
Then, mix in the softened butter and cream cheese with lemon juice and zest. At the end, whip the egg white with half of the sugar and gently stir into the cheesecake.
Step 4 – Assemble and bake
Now you just have to grate the frozen dough over the cheesecake and bake until golden brown!
Recipe tips and notes
- Read through the recipe before making it and follow the instructions for the best results.
- Use a spring-form pan. Cheesecakes are usually baked in spring-form pans, and this one is no different. It’s just the easiest to remove it. You could also make this recipe in a round spring-form pan. I recommend using 25 cm (10 inch) round spring-form pan. Because these are in bar form and small there is no need for a water bath.
- Measure the ingredients correctly. I always weigh my ingredients on a kitchen scale, because that’s the most accurate way to bake. I always provide the ingredient amounts also in cups, but I can’t guarantee perfect results. Read this post to learn how to correctly measure ingredients if you are using cups.
Poppy Seed Cheesecake Crumble Bars FAQ
This cheesecake will last at least 5 days in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer. Don’t leave the cheesecake outside of the fridge for too long.
If you are not freezing it, always store cheesecakes in the fridge.
You can store it whole in the pan covered with aluminum foil or cling film. Or if you only have a few pieces left, I like to store them in an air-tight container (in the fridge).
The cheesecake should be completely cooled down to room temperature before freezing.
Wrap the cheesecake all around, with or without the pan, in cling film. Then wrap it in aluminum foil or place it in an air-tight container.
It can last up to 3 months in the freezer. Before serving, thaw it in the fridge overnight.
Check out some of my other desserts in bar form:
When you make this recipe take a photo and tag me on Instagram (@freakyblond), send it to my email, or attach the photo to the pin. In any case, I’d love to see it, it makes my day! I’d also love if you rate the recipe and tell me your experience in the comments so I can possibly make the recipe even better for you 🙂.
Poppy Seed Lemon Cheesecake Bars
- 113 g butter cold (1/2 cup)
- 100 g sugar (1 cup)
- 2 tbsp lemon zest from 2 lemons
- 250 g flour all purpose (2 cups)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 egg
Poppy seed filling
- 130 g poppy seeds (1 + 1/3 cup)
- 130 g milk (1 cup)
- 50 g sugar (1/4 cup)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 20 g cornstarch (2.5 tbsp)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp oil
- 150 g sugar (1/2 + 1/4 cup)
- 20 g cornstarch (2.5 tbsp)
- 2 eggs
- 125 g milk (1 cup)
- 400 g cream cheese Philadelphia (16 oz), at room temperature
- 30 g room temperature butter (2 tbsp)
- 2 lemons juice and zest
- Preheat the oven to 180℃ (350F) and line a 23 x 23 cm (9×9 inch) baking pan with parchment paper (or you can grease and flour it).
- Mix flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
- Add the cold butter in pieces and rub it into the flour so that you get a crumbly mixture resembling bread crumbs. You can also do this in a food processor by blitzing the processor a few times to get the crumb texture.
- Mix in the sugar and lemon zest.
- Then add the egg. Combine the dough with your hands or a food processor until you form a dough that just holds together. If it’s really not coming together add a teaspoon or two of cold water.
- Divide the dough into two parts and make a ball out of one part. Wrap it in cling film and put it in the freezer while you make everything else. Distribute the other half of the dough on the prepared baking pan, pressing it down to cover all the bottom. The layer will be quite thin. Set aside in the fridge.
Poppy Seed Filling
- Put milk, half of the sugar, and cinnamon in a pan and heat it until boil.
- In a bowl, mix the poppy seeds with cornstarch, then add to the hot milk and quickly mix.
- Cook this mixture for about 3-4 minutes to thicken and cook the cornstarch, whisking constantly, on medium heat.
- Whisk the egg yolk together with oil.
- Remove the poppy seed filling from the heat and leave it to cool for a minute or two. Then, add the egg yolk mixture, mix well and set aside to cool completely. You can start making the lemon cheesecake filling and then come back to finish this.
- Make the meringue: beat the egg white until frothy and then slowly start adding the other half of the sugar while mixing. Mix for about 1-2 minutes until you achieve stiff peaks. When the poppy seed mixture cools down to room temperature, gently fold in the meringue.
- Take the baking pan with the dough from the fridge and distribute the poppy seed filling on top.
- In a bowl mix together the egg yolks, half of the sugar, and cornstarch until well combined. Mix in the milk.
- Now add the room temperature cream cheese, softened butter, lemon juice and zest, mix until well combined.
- Like before, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks with the other half of the sugar and then gently fold it into the cream cheese mixture.
- Pour the cheesecake filling on top of the poppy seed filling.
- Now take the dough from the freezer and grate it on top, covering everything. If you find it easier, you could grate the dough on a plate and then distribute the dough with your hands.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 55 minutes, the top should be golden brown and the cheesecake will wobble just slightly when you shake the pan.
- Leave to cool completely, about 2 hours. You can then cut it and eat or place in the fridge to cool even more.
- Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!
- You can make this in a round 10 inch (25 cm) baking pan.
- You can omit the cinnamon in the poppy seed filling.
- Be sure to use organic lemons for the lemon zest.
- Use Philadelphia cream cheese for best results. You could also make this recipe with cottage cheese curd.
- Have all your ingredients at room temperature for best results.