Refreshing lemon drizzle loaf cake baked with plain flour, fresh lemon zest and zesty lemon icing. Great cake for an afternoon treat. This recipe is similar to my lemon drizzle cupcakes but this recipe is made with plain flour in case you run out of self-raising flour.
Why make this recipe?
- Easy cake recipe to make
- Amazing lemon taste sponge with delicious lemon icing
- Keeps well & can be frozen (without the lemon icing)
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Lemon Drizzle Cake Story
The story of the lemon drizzle cake is shrouded in mystery, as its exact origins are unknown. What we know is that it it’s now a traditional British cake that has been around for generations.
When I was searching for the first lemon drizzle cake recipe, I found that the first lemon drizzle cake was made by a Jewish woman named Evelyn Rose in 1967. It seems that the lemon drizzle cake might have also existed before, but perhaps in more modest version without lemon icing on the top.
My top tips on making this lemon drizzle cake
Don’t worry if your cake mixture curdles as you mix it. Carry on whisking and it will come back to together.
Have your lemon syrup ready the minute your cake comes out of the oven. The cake has to be hot, for the syrup to seep in and evaporate at the same time. If you add the syrup when the cake is cold or only warm, you’ll end up with soggy cake.
Don’t swap too many ingredients, in fact, just leave the recipe as it is. The taste is amazing and it’s all down to the amount of lemon, sugar, butter, eggs and full-fat milk.
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Ingredients & substitutions
I’m not too keen on substitutions with this cake. The taste is amazing, so I’m not going to suggest too many alternations.
The only thing that won’t make much difference is that you can swap plain flour for self-raising flour. Make sure that you leave out the baking powder as there is already raising agent in the self-raising flour.
I sometimes add a table spoon of poppy seeds, because I just love them and they work well with the lemon flavour. It also looks ever so sophisticated and makes me think that I’m eating healthy cake!
How to bake lemon drizzle cake with plain flour at home
Make sure that your oven is set for a medium to hight temperature. I normally preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas3
Put the sugar, eggs and lemon zest in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until well mixed. I make sure that the eggs mixture is nice and creamy and slightly fluffy. This helps the cake to rise well.
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in another mixing bowl. You don’t need to sieve your flour, just stir everything well.
Combine the milk and vanilla extract in another bowl.
Add one—third of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat well. Then beat in one-third of the milk mixture. Repeat this process twice more until everything has been added.
Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. At this stage, your cake mixture might look like it’s curdled, but don’t worry. Carry on adding flour to the egg mixture and whisk on medium speed. It will all come together in the end.
Turn the mixer down to low speed, pour in the melted butter and beat until well incorporated
Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Make sure that you spread the cake batter evenly and if you don’t want your loaf cake to doom too much, spread it out from the centre with a slightly dip in the middle.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 min or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Check with a wooden skewer, when you think your cake is done. If it comes out clean (not wet), your cake is done. If not add another 5 minutes and check again.
Make the lemon syrup. While the cake is baking, put the lemon juice, sugar and 100ml water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over low heat. Raise the heat and boil until it has reduced by half, or until it has a think syrup consistency. Make sure that the sugar is fully melted before you pour it on to your loaf cake
When the cake comes out of the oven, put it on a wire cooling rack and prick it with a wooden skewer in several places. Then carefully spoon over the syrup. Don’t go too fast when you are pouring the syrup and let the syrup to seep in slowly.
Leave out on the wire rack to cool down completely.
To make the lemon icing, mix together icing sugar with more lemon juice until you have a thick syrup. Spoon over the cold lemon cake and leave to set before serving. You can also decorate the top with leftover lemon zest or lemon decorations.
How long does lemon drizzle cake with plain flour last?
This cake keeps well and the flavour improves with time. I’ve had this cake easily for 3-4 days but beyond that I’ve never had enough to keep!
To store lemon drizzle cake, it is best to keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. According to the search results, lemon drizzle cake can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.
It is important to make sure the container is airtight to prevent the cake from drying out or absorbing any other flavors in the fridge. If the cake has a crunchy topping, it is recommended to store it in a single layer to prevent the topping from becoming soft.
Can you freeze lemon drizzle cake with plain flour?
This lemon loaf cake also freezes well. Bake the cake and add the lemon syrup, but don’t use the lemon drizzle on the top. You can choose to freeze it either baked and ready to eat or unbaked and ready to cook. I prefer to bake the cake first and then to freeze it, but it’s handy to know that if I had to freeze the unbaked cake mixture I can do that too.
To freeze a baked lemon drizzle cake, make sure it’s fully cooled down first, wrap it in cling film and then place it in a freezer bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3-6 months maximum. To defrost a frozen lemon drizzle cake, simply leave it at room temperature for a few hours or overnight.
Make the lemon drizzle and finish decorating your loaf cake with additional lemon zest or lemon sugar decorations.
How do I make sure my lemon drizzle cake is moist?
To ensure that your lemon drizzle cake is moist, there are a few things you can do:
- Use the right amount of butter and sugar: Using the right amount of butter and sugar in your recipe can help keep your cake moist. Be sure to follow the recipe carefully and measure the ingredients accurately.
- Use the right amount of liquid: Adding the right amount of liquid to your cake batter can also help keep it moist. In the case of lemon drizzle cake, this would be lemon juice. Again, be sure to follow the recipe carefully and measure the ingredients accurately.
- Don’t overmix the batter: Overmixing the batter can cause the cake to become tough and dry. Mix the ingredients until just combined.
- Don’t overbake the cake: Overbaking the cake can also cause it to become dry. Check the cake regularly towards the end of the baking time and remove it from the oven as soon as a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Add a syrup: A syrup made from lemon juice and sugar can be poured over the cake after baking to add moisture and flavor. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer or toothpick before pouring the syrup over the top so that it can soak in evenly.
Can I use a different type of sugar in my lemon drizzle cake?
Yes, you can use a different type of sugar in your lemon drizzle cake, such as golden caster sugar, light brown sugar or other lighter types of sugars or sugar alternatives (such as Stevia), but it may affect the texture and flavor of the cake.
Brown or dark sugar will add a caramel flavor, which will overpower the lemon flavour, but it will still work as a flavour.
It’s slightly trickier to use liquid sweeteners such as honey, golden syrup or maple syrup or other maple syrup substitutes as the amount of liquid in the recipe may need to be adjusted and it might still be a little too runny (and possibly soggy when you bake the cake).
How do I prevent my lemon drizzle cake from sticking to the pan?
To prevent your lemon drizzle cake from sticking to the pan, there are a few things you can do:
- Grease the pan: Grease the bottom and sides of the pan with butter or cooking spray to create a non-stick surface.
- Line the pan with parchment paper: Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and place it inside. This will create a barrier between the cake and the pan, preventing it from sticking.
- Use the right type of pan: Use a non-stick pan or a silicone pan for best results. If using a metal pan, make sure it is well-greased and lined with parchment paper.
- Don’t overfill the pan: Overfilling the pan can cause the cake to stick to the sides. Fill the pan no more than two-thirds full to allow room for the cake to rise.
- Let the cake cool before removing it from the pan: Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before removing it. This will help the cake to set and prevent it from breaking apart when you remove it from the pan.
Why is my lemon drizzle cake not fluffy?
There are several possible reasons why your lemon drizzle cake may not be fluffy:
- Overmixing the batter: Overmixing the batter can cause air bubbles to burst, resulting in a dense, heavy cake instead of a light and fluffy one.
- Not using the right amount of leavening agent: If there is not enough baking powder or baking soda in the recipe, the cake may not rise properly, resulting in a dense and heavy texture.
- Using cold ingredients: Cold ingredients can cause the cake to take longer to rise in the oven, resulting in an uneven texture and not-that-fluffy cake.
- Using too much liquid: Using too much liquid when mixing the batter can make the cake dense and wet instead of light and fluffy.
- Overbaking: Overbaking the cake can cause it to dry out and become dense instead of fluffy.
To make your lemon drizzle cake fluffy, be sure to follow the recipe carefully and measure the ingredients accurately. Avoid overmixing the batter and be sure to use the right amount of leavening agent. Use room temperature ingredients and avoid using too much liquid. Finally, be sure not to overbake the cake and remove it from the oven as soon as a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Can I use self-raising flour with this recipe?
Yes, you can use self-raising flour with my lemon drizzle cake, but make sure that you leave out the baking powder and half the salt (as self-raising flour already contains raising agents and salt). Use the same amount of self-raising flour as the plain flour in the recipe.
Lemon Drizzle Cake with plain flour
- 320 g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- Grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons or dried lemon zest
- 350 g plain flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt depends on your taste
- 250 ml whole milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 200 g unsalted butter – melted
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
- 50 g caster sugar
- 100 ml water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 100 grams icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas3
- Put the sugar, eggs and lemon zest in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until well mixed.
- Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in another mixing bowl.
- Combine the milk and vanilla extract in another bowl.
- Add one—third of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat well. Then beat in one-third of the milk mixture. Repeat this process twice more until everything has been added. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Turn the mixer down to low speed, pour in the melted butter and beat until well incorporated
- Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 min or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched.
- While the cake is baking, put the lemon juice, sugar and 100ml water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over low heat. Raise the heat and boil until it has reduced by half, or until it has a think syrup consistency.
- When the cake comes out of the oven, put it on a wire cooling rack and prick it with a wooden skewer in several places. Then carefully spoon over the syrup.
- Leave out on the wire rack to cool down completely.
- To make the lemon icing, mix together icing sugar with more lemon juice until you have a thick syrup. Spoon over the cold lemon cake and leave to set before serving. You can also decorate the top with leftover lemon zest or lemon decorations.
This blog post was originally written on 14 October 2020 and last tested and updated on 14 August 2023