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.

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

Lemon Drizzle Cake

4.50 / 4 votes
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.
David Leite
CourseDessert
CuisineAmerican
Servings12 servings
Calories180 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time45 minutes

Equipment

  • 8-inch square cake pan, preferably with a removable bottom.

Ingredients 

For the cake

  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (5 oz) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon self-rising flour

For the lemony topping

  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

Instructions 

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.
Sweet Treats

Adapted From

Sweet Treats

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 180 kcalCarbohydrates: 23 gProtein: 3 gFat: 9 gSaturated Fat: 5 gMonounsaturated Fat: 2 gTrans Fat: 0.3 gCholesterol: 55 mgSodium: 15 mgFiber: 0.3 gSugar: 15 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2010 Linda Collister. Photo © 2010 Deposit Photos. All rights reserved.

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!




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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Recipe Rating




23 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    This cake has a nice lemony flavor and is fairly easy to make. For the self-rising flour, I mixed it as in the introduction. Rather than using extra-large eggs, I used large eggs and the recipe worked. Finally, I also added a touch of natural lemon extract in both the cake and the topping.

    The size of the cake was closer to a lemon bar. I could see doubling the ingredients to get a thicker cake. Also, the topping is a nice surprise. It did not initially look like it would work; however, when the cake was completely cooled, the topping disappears from sight but you get a little crunch and flavor when you take a bite.