In a bowl, combine the poppy seeds, lemon zest, and milk. Set aside to soak for at least 1 hour or refrigerated overnight. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 6-cup loaf pan with wax paper. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), whip the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. With the mixer running, drizzle the oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract into the egg mixture. With the mixer still running, add alternating batches of dry ingredients and poppy seed-milk mixture to the egg mixture. The batter will be somewhat thin. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until the center is raised and cracked and the whole cake is firm and dry on the top. Avoid opening the oven while baking. Do not under-bake or the cake will fall. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and continue cooling before serving.
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, "Butter Sugar Flour Eggs" by Gale Gand, Rick Tramonto, Julia Moskin: Clarkson N. Potter Publishers, 1999