This is truly the zingiest, most delicious and moreish lemon drizzle cake you’ll ever make. It is wonderful!
I’ve been making this recipe for years, ever since it was emailed over to me by the lovely Jayne Crammond of Mum’s the Word, way back in 2012! Jane explained:
I chose this recipe because I spent ages trying to find a lemon cake that was…well, lemony enough! I like my lemon cake to be very zingy and moist so I ended up taking bits of different recipes and putting them together to make this one, which is probably the one and only time I’ve been vaguely inventive in the kitchen.
So does this lemon drizzle cake live up to its name? Actually, yes. It’s exceptionally gorgeous!
Here’s what to do
- 170 g (6 oz) self-raising flour
- 170 g (6 oz) caster sugar
- 170 g (6 oz) butter or margarine
- 2 medium eggs
- 3 unwaxed lemons
- 4 tbsp icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan, 350F). Cream the sugar and butter (or margarine) together.
Add both eggs and whisk in.
Sift in the flour and whisk until smooth.
Add the zest of two lemons and the juice of one to the mixture and mix well.
Spoon the batter into a greased and lightly floured cake tin. I recommend using a 23cm (9in) springform tin as it makes it super easy to get your cake out of the tin cleanly. Note, this is a wide tin and your cake will not be tall. This is so that the sponge can absorb lots of syrup all the way through later. If you want a narrower, taller cake, see the tips section below for advice on adjusting the cooking times.
Bake at for 25-30 minutes. The cake should be golden on the outside and the skewer should come out clean – keep an eye on it as you don’t want it to over-bake.
In a small pan, mix the juice of two of the lemons with the icing sugar.
Place over a medium heat and stir as it heats, continuing until you have a syrupy texture.
Poke holes all over the sponge with a skewer, almost down to the bottom, then take the syrup off the heat (careful, it’s hot!) and pour all over the cooling sponge.
Allow to cool, then cut into generous slices and enjoy with a hot cup of tea or coffee.
The result is a light, firm sponge that’s wonderfully lemony. Perfect.
More tips for the perfect lemon drizzle cake
If you want to be even more certain of perfect results when you make the world’s best lemon drizzle cake, here are all the tips you’ll ever need!
Where does lemon drizzle cake come from?
Lemon drizzle cake is thought to be an English invention going back at least a few hundred years! It was recently voted England’s favourite cake flavour and I can see why. It’s zingy, zesty, sweet and delicious.
Lemon drizzle cake no doubt takes inspiration from classic ‘pound cake’ recipes (that’s a cake made with a pound of flour, a pound of sugar, a pound of fat and a pound of eggs), but it’s the addition of lemon in the sponge and in the syrup added at the end that makes it really special.
Can I make this lemon drizzle cake in a food processor or stand mixer?
You can, but it’s not really necessary.
If your food processor comes with a beater rather than blade attachment, then you cream the butter and sugar together on a low setting, then blend in the eggs. It won’t incorporate as much air as a whisk, though, so is not recommended.
You can definitely beat the butter and sugar, and then the eggs, in a stand mixer to speed up the job, but a hand mixer will do the job just as well.
Whatever method you use to combine the butter, sugar and eggs, it’s important that you gently fold the flour in by hand. Beating will cause the cake batter can be easily overworked, which could make your finished bake tough and/or poorly risen if the blades knock out the air and stretch the gluten.
Can I make this lemon drizzle cake without an electric whisk?
Using an electric whisk to beat the butter and sugar together, and then the eggs is really handy because it gets the job done and beats in lots of air.
However, you can absolutely do the job by hand, it’ll just take a little more elbow grease!
Do I need special equipment to make this lemon drizzle cake?
You don’t need any specialist equipment to make this lemon drizzle cake.
The only thing you might not already have is a springform tin – that is, a tin with a loose bottom and a clip on the side to make it super easy to get your cake out of the tin cleanly.
If you don’t want to invest in a springform tin, a loose-bottomed one will do the job.
You could just turn your cooled cake out onto the cooling rack – as long as the tin is properly lined, it should come out easily – just be very careful as the cooled syrup will make the top of the cake delicate and sticky.
Alternatively, try laying an extra two strips of baking paper in a cross in your tin before you line it to create four tabs long tabs that go up past the sides of the cake tin. This will allow you to lift the sponges out once cool.
Can I make this lemon drizzle cake using the all in one method?
The all in one method is where you add all of the sponge ingredients into the bowl at once and then beat them all together until smooth.
This recipe is quite forgiving, so if you are in a hurry, the all in one method will work.
However, I recommend following the recipe and beating the butter and sugar first, then adding the eggs, then folding in the flour etc as this will incorporate plenty of air without overworking the gluten in your mixture, which can make for a tough sponge.
Can I make this lemon drizzle without weighing scales?
The best bakes happen when you take the time to measure everything out properly. When I follow a recipe, it’s the first thing I do. That way, I know I have the right quantities of everything.
I’ve provided the weights in both grams and ounces to suit your preference.
Could I use this recipe to make lemon drizzle muffins?
Yes, you should have enough cake batter to fill one 12-hole muffin trays lined with muffin cases.
The cooking time will be less than for a full cake, so pay attention to them during the last 10 minutes of baking and as soon as they are risen and gently golden, remove from the oven and press the tops to ensure they are firm. You can also use a skewer pushed into the centre to check if they’re cooked through. It should come out clean.
Can I make this lemon drizzle cake as a tray bake?
I haven’t tried making this lemon drizzle in a tray, but my guess is that it should work well.
This isn’t a huge cake, so I’d recommend you aim for a tray that’s of a similar size to it’s 23cm round equivalent.
If you go bigger, then you will need to reduce the cooking time as you will be spreading the cake thinner and increasing the surface area.
Keep an eye on your cake as it bakes to make sure it doesn’t go too brown, and press the centre gently to make sure it’s firm. Double-check that your cake is done by pushing a flat skewer into the centre of the cake – it should come out clean.
Can I bake this lemon drizzle cake in a loaf tin?
You could certainly make this sponge in a loaf tin. I haven’t tried it myself, but it’s likely that the change in shape may change to cooking time, so keep an eye on it as it bakes and be sure to do the skewer test to make sure it comes out clean, meaning your sponge is cooked through.
Can I make this lemon drizzle cake without eggs?
The eggs are an important part of this recipe. They not only add moisture and colour, they also help to bind the different ingredients together.
If you can’t use eggs in this recipe, the following options can be considered as a replacement:
Egg alternatives (each = 1 egg so multiply as needed for the recipe)
- Store-bought egg replacement powder (use as directed on the packet).
- 1 tablespoon of crushed chia or flax seeds mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and left for 10 minutes in the fridge.
- 3 tablespoons of aquafaba.
- 3 tablespoons of applesauce.
- Half of a medium sized banana, mashed. It’s best to use fairly ripe bananas for this as they will match a lot better and bind your ingredients together more effectively
Note: I have not tested all of these replacements, so let me know how you get on.
Can I make this lemon drizzle cake with plain flour?
You’re going to want this lemon drizzle cake to rise, so you’re going to need a raising agent, and there isn’t anything to help with rise in plain flour. In contrast, self-raising flour contains baking powder, which helps give a lovely light sponge and a good rise.
If you don’t have any self-raising flour, you can make your own. Simply add two teaspoons of baking powder to every 150g of plain flour in a bowl and sift them together before using in your recipe.
This particular recipe uses 170g self-raising flour, so if you use plain flour instead, you’ll need to add about 2 ¼ tsp of baking powder.
Can I make this lemon drizzle cake without butter?
If you don’t want to use butter in this lemon drizzle cake, you can substitute for the same amount of flavourless oil, standard margarine or Stork.
If you do, it’s really important to choose a margarine with a high fat content, ideally over 75%. Light margarines tend to have a high water content which can upset the balance of the batter, thus affecting the final bake.
Do I have to use caster sugar in this recipe?
I know that caster sugar isn’t something that’s easily available in the US – don’t worry.
Caster sugar crystals are very small which helps them to dissolve more easily, but granulated sugar, golden caster sugar and brown sugar will all work, they’ll just give a slightly different texture.
Do not use icing sugar / powdered sugar in this recipe as the crystals are too fine.
Can I make this lemon drizzle cake recipe without sugar?
Sugar lends not only sweetness, but also structure and texture to the cake, so I wouldn’t recommend leaving it out.
I have not experimented with artificial sweeteners, but I suspect it would be tricky to balance the lemon out – let me know if you experiment with it.
My lemon drizzle cake batter seems really thick, can I thin it?
The batter for this lemon drizzle cake is indeed thick, but if you think its too thick, you can thin it out with a splash of milk, yogurt or buttermilk.
Only add a little at a time and stir gently to combine so that you don’t over-thin or overmix your batter.
Why did my lemon drizzle cake batter split/curdle?
If your batter seems to have gone watery and lumpy, or resembles scrambled egg, then it has probably split.
It usually happens when you add cold eggs to room temperature butter and sugar. The three ingredients are supposed to form an emulsion as they are beaten together, but the difference in temperature can prevent that.
To avoid splitting your batter, aim to remove the quantity of eggs and butter you’ll need from the fridge before you start baking and leave them to come up to room temperature before you start.
If your mixture does start to split, try adding a spoonful of flour (from the 170g total you’re planning to use). This can help encourage the emulsion to come back together, then you can fold in the rest of the flour.
Counter-intuitively, mixing your eggs, sugar and butter together more vigourously will not cause them to come back together. In fact, overmixing the ingredients can lead to a split batter, so as soon as it looks lump free, stop beating.
Finally, if you have split your batter and it won’t come back together, don’t worry! Just carry on with the recipe according to the instructions. You may get a slightly more uneven bake and or a lower rise but it should still be delicious!
My lemon drizzle cake did not rise/was flat/sank in the middle?
If you ever have any sort of sponge that fails to rise, it’s usually for one of these reasons.
- Oven too hot: Your oven may be running hotter than the dial suggests, meaning the cake rose too fast to support its own weight.
- Over-beaten batter: If you beat too much air into the cake, it can rise too fast and then collapse.
- Letting the heat out: Opening the oven door during baking can cause the temperature to drop rapidly, causing the cake to lose height.
- Slamming the door: Closing the oven door too roughly during baking can also mean that the air is knocked out.
- Wrong size tin: Using a too narrow tin can mean that the mix is too deep to cook all the way through and so isn’t able to hold its structure.
- Too much flour: A thick batter with too much flour won’t rise as well, and can give a dense sponge, so check that your quantities are correct.
- Old flour: Self-raising flour also has a shorter shelf life than plain flour, so make sure that the flour you used is in date or it may have lost some of its effectiveness, meaning your cake will not rise as much as it otherwise would.
Note: as stated in the instructions, this is supposed to be a shallow, wide cake as shown in the picture. This allows the drizzle to fully penetrate. If you want a taller cake, you can try a smaller tin width, but keep an eye on it as it bakes and be sure to do the skewer test to make sure it comes out clean, meaning your sponge is cooked.
How can I tell when my lemon drizzle cake is ready?
Visually, you’re looking for a cake that is light golden in colour and looks even from edge to edge.
When you feel confident that your cake is ready, remove it from the oven and insert a flat skewer into the centre of the cake. When you pull it out, it should look clean. If anything has stuck to the skewer than the cake needs longer in the oven.
Don’t worry if you don’t get it right first time. Baking cakes takes a bit of intuition and the more you get more used to baking and the quirks of your particular oven, the more you will get a feel for when your cake is done.
Why is my lemon drizzle cake dry? Why does it have hard edges?
If your cake seems dry or hard, the most likely explanation is that it’s overbaked. This could be because the temperature in your oven was too high, or the cake was baked for too long.
Every oven is different and temperatures can vary wildly, even in high quality ovens, so my preferred way to follow a cake recipe is to look at the baking time and then set my timer to remind to start keeping an eye on my cake 10 minutes before the end so that I can ensure I take it out ata just the right time.
Can I make the lemon drizzle syrup without icing sugar?
Icing sugar is another name for powdered sugar.
If you don’t have any, you can use granulated or caster sugar, you will just need to be patient as you warm the syrup as it will take longer for the sugar crystals to fully dissolve.
Can I leave out the lemon out of this lemon drizzle cake?
You can leave out the lemon, but you’ll want to replace it with something else – try using the juice and zest of an orange instead.
If you’re nervous about this cake being too lemony, just be sure to taste the syrup before you pour it over the cake.
Some lemons are zingier than others, and personal taste varies, so if you want to tone it done, just add a little more sugar, or use less of the syrup.
When should I drizzle my cake?
It’s best to to drizzle the syrup over the cake while it’s still warm as it will penetrate the cake more evenly make for a better texture.
Leave the cake in the tin while you do this so that you don’t lose any of the syrup as it seeps through the cake.
Can I make the lemon drizzle cake topping crunchy?
If you want a really crunch topping instead of a syrup that sinks in, you’ll need to change the method slightly.
Use granulated sugar instead of icing sugar and without any heat, mix your lemon juice and sugar together to form a paste, then spread over the warm cake. This should give you your crunchy topping once cooled.
What can I serve lemon drizzle cake with?
My personal preference for enjoying a slice of lemon drizzle cake is with a big mug of tea!
For me, I don’t need anything else to accompany my lemon drizzle: the moistness and sweetness of the sponge is all you need on your plate.
However, if you want to add a little something extra when serving, then vanilla ice cream or whipped cream are both delicious additions too, lending a creaminess to offset the zing of the lemon drizzle.
What is the best way to store lemon drizzle cake and how long will it keep?
Stored in an airtight container in a cool place out of direct sunlight, your lemon drizzle cake will keep well for 3-4 days.
Can I put this lemon drizzle cake be kept in the fridge?
You can store your lemon drizzle cake in a sealed container in the refrigerator if you like, but it’s likely that the crumb will lose a little of its tenderness, so I think it is better stored at room temp.
Can this lemon drizzle cake recipe be frozen?
Yes! It actually freezes really well.
Make sure to place it in an airtight container. I find the best way to freeze is to first cut the cake into individual slices. That way, you can just grab a slice when you want and allow it to gently defrost before eating.
Is this lemon drizzle cake healthy?
This cake is quite high in sugar and fat. It’s best enjoyed as an occasional treat, as part of a balanced diet.
Is this lemon drizzle recipe gluten-free
This recipe is not gluten-free as it uses wheat flour in the lemon drizzle sponge.
I have not tried making a gluten-free version, but if you’re keen to experiment, I would recommend using self-raising gluten-free flour, plus half a teaspoon of xanthan gum as a starting point.
As with all allergies and sensitivities, it’s important to check the packaging of all of the ingredients you use very carefully to ensure they are gluten-free.
Is this lemon drizzle cake recipe vegetarian?
Yes, this recipe is vegetarian.
Is this lemon drizzle cake recipe vegan?
No, it is not vegan due to the use of eggs and butter, but if you want to substitute those for alternatives, I have included advice above.
Is this lemon drizzle cake recipe nut-free?
Yes, this lemon drizzle cake is totally nut-free.
However, with all allergies and sensitivities, it’s important to check the packaging of all of the ingredients you use very carefully to ensure they are nut-free.
This is because even though none of the ingredients should naturally contain nuts, some may have been produced in a factory that handles nuts, meaning there is a risk of cross-contamination.
Print this lemon drizzle cake recipe
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World’s best lemon drizzle cake
- 170 g (6 oz) self-raising flour
- 170 g (6 oz) caster sugar
- 170 g (6 oz) butter or margarine
- 2 medium eggs
- 3 unwaxed lemons
- 4 tbsp icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan, 350F). Cream the sugar and butter (or margarine) together.
- Add both eggs and whisk in.
- Sift in the flour and whisk until smooth.
- Add the zest of two lemons and the juice of one to the mixture and mix well.
- Spoon the batter into a greased and lightly floured cake tin. I recommend using a 23cm (9in) springform tin as it makes it super easy to get your cake out of the tin cleanly.
- Bake at for 25-30 minutes. The cake should be golden on the outside and the skewer should come out clean – keep an eye on it as you don’t want it to over-bake.
- In a small pan, mix the juice of two of the lemons with the icing sugar.
- Place over a medium heat and stir as it heats, continuing until you have a syrupy texture.
- Poke holes all over the sponge with a skewer, almost down to the bottom.
- Take the syrup off the heat (careful, it’s hot!) and pour all over the cooling sponge.
- Allow to cool, then cut into generous slices and enjoy with a hot cup of tea or coffee.
Yum! What do you think of this lemon drizzle cake?
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