Lemon Drizzle Cake

Squares of lemon drizzle cake on a white plate with a cake server resting underneath and a cup of tea and vase of flowers in the background.

Sometimes it’s the plain cakes that are the best. This lemon drizzle cake recipe is wonderfully buttery and zesty and is delicious served simply, cut into little squares. To achieve a really crisp, sugary crust on top, combine the sugar and lemon juice at the last minute and pour straight over the cake before letting it cool.–Linda Collister

LC Self-Rising (Or Not) Note

If you don’t happen to have self-rising flour, just make your own, DIY style. We stir 2 level teaspoons baking powder into 1 cup all-purpose flour for every cup of self-rising flour a recipe demands. Although this made-from-scratch shortcut won’t create quite the lofty lift as self-rising flour, it’ll suit the demands of most recipes–including this simple, satiating cake–just fine.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 20 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes 12 squares
4.5/5 - 2 reviews
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Special Equipment: 8-inch square cake pan, preferably with a removable bottom.


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  • For the cake
  • For the lemony topping


Make the cake

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter an 8-inch square cake pan, preferably with a removable bottom, and line it with parchment paper.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the lemon zest. Fold the flour into the mixture until well combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and level the surface. Bake for about 20 minutes, until well risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Add the lemony topping

Transfer the cake pan to a wire rack and prick the top of the cake all over with a skewer. Sprinkle the top of the warm cake with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Quickly combine the remaining sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and immediately pour it over the top of the cake. Let it cool in the pan. Cut into small squares to serve. (Store the cake in an airtight container in a cool cupboard or the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)

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Recipe Testers Reviews

Mmm…a lemon desert that isn’t the ubiquitous, albeit delicious, lemon bar. This will be a useable and user-friendly addition to my dessert repertoire, in part because it isn’t complicated to make, in part because it has a lovely lemon flavor and a fine and unexpected texture, in part because it’s a dessert that will play well throughout the year with many different cuisines, and because it keeps well and can therefore be made in advance — a lovely advantage for meal planning in the lives of busy people. I tried it two ways and both worked. First, I stored it in the fridge after completing it, and it was fine when brought out to serve. Second, which I liked even better, was Renee’s suggestion in the comments to bake, then freeze, then drizzle the cake after thawing and right before serving. This preserved the crisp sugary crust on top that’s such a perfect counterpoint to the clean, uber-lemony flavor of this cake. My friend Douglas commented that his favorite part of the cake was the sugary crunch on top, though he also noted that he loved its light and refreshing taste. I liked the simplicity and elegance of its presentation. Another friend thought it would be enhanced by whipped cream; he suggested a light sprinkle of cinnamon atop the whipped cream, tying it back to the flavors of the appetizer, sides, and entrée I served it with. Note that I baked it just a few minutes beyond the 20 minutes noted in the instructions before my toothpick tested clean. I did get extra-large eggs to make this recipe, but I would try it in the future with large ones, and I believe it would be just fine. No need to make a special trip out for the extra-large ones if you don’t have them on hand!


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  1. Baked this in cupcake pans to make them easier to serve. I used the all-purpose flour + baking powder substitution for self-rising flour. I didn’t have a taste while they were fresh from the oven, but family claimed that they were very soft with a crisp top. I did have one a couple days later, and wasn’t pleased to discover that it was very dense and a bit sticky from the sugar. I wonder why it didn’t stay soft? I did make sure to beat the butter and sugar until it was noticeably lighter in color and texture during the prepping process.

    1. Hi Vincci, well, I’m not quite sure. First off, how did you store them? Secondly, this cake is more dense than a cupcake. I wonder if you were anticipating a cupcake-like texture?

      1. Hellos, I stored them at room temperature. I’m thinking this is one of those cakes that ought to be served fresh from oven!

        1. Seems like it, Vincci. Or else perhaps just drizzle the glaze over the portion that you know you’ll serve warm from the oven, and then when serving the leftovers, rewarm the rest of the cake and drizzle the remaining glaze over it just before serving?

  2. Would this work in a round cake tin? I’m interested in trying it out as it looks and sounds delicious, but I have no loaf tins.

    1. Hi Joe, do you have a square pan? If not, a round cake pan should be fine. Just use a cake tester and look for a golden top, as your timing may be a tad different.

  3. This cake is ridiculously good. I am trying to keep myself from eating half of it myself! It’s very buttery, almost too much (almost!), light as can be, just plain delicious. Not too sweet, with the lemon balancing the richness.
    I did change a couple of things though. I don’t use extra large eggs, so I used two eggs (from the market, so they’re not always that big) plus one yolk, upping the already sunny color. I also added a bit of salt. And I went with the sub for self-rising flour, doing half AP half pastry flour.
    Thank you for this lovely cake!

  4. Made this last week on a busy weeknight. Came together in a snap. Liked it—lots. Light, bright, and easy. That said, it is not my favorite lemon cake of all time, but it is perfect for tea or a simple dessert.

    1. Update: Last week, I cut up the day-old cake and froze individual portions of it. Last night I popped a square in the microwave for about 20 seconds. The topping was obviously no longer crunchy, but it was really tasty…actually better than I remembered it fresh.

      1. Joanne, very good to know, many thanks! And I’m going to go venture to say that if bakers knew in advance that they’d like to freeze the cake, simply waiting to drizzle it with the lemony topping until after it was thawed and rewarmed would ward off your only complaint.

  5. Hi! I made this cake for friends and family this weekend and it was spectacular! My only addition was that I covered it in lemon infused icing. I’m Portuguese and this simple cake brought back memories of my mom’s cakes when I was growing up.

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