Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon drizzle cake is a perennial favorite for snacking, dessert, or even breakfast, if you’re so inclined. Tangy lemon and a crackly sweet icing make it perfect anytime.

Squares of lemon drizzle cake stacked on top of each other on a wooden board.

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

How can I substitute self-rising flour?

If you don’t happen to have self-rising flour, just make your own, DIY style. We stir 1 1/2 level teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt 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.

Ingredients

  • For the cake
  • For the lemony topping

Directions

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

Move 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.) Originally published March 09, 2010.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This straightforward, minimal ingredient lemon snack cake is super moist. My husband is a huge lemon fan so I always want his opinion on the final product of anything lemony. He loved this cake and kept going back for more.

I creamed the sugar and butter for a full 4 minutes, added the eggs one at a time and beat for 1 minute after each addition scraping down the bowl as well. I used 1 tablespoon of lemon zest that I keep handy in the freezer.

The batter was quite thick and took a little coaxing to get into the corners. Once baked, the parchment sling made it easy to remove from the pan so a removable bottom isn’t necessary. My cake took 22 minutes of baking and was beautifully golden brown with a springy top.

I let the cake cool for a couple of minutes before drizzling. The zest in the cake with the lemon drizzle is a perfect lemony combination. This cake is best eaten the day it is baked. The second day it became a little dense and less moist. Popping into a microwave for a few seconds brought it back.

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 the lemon drizzle cake 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.

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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Comments

  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!

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