Lemon drizzle cake

A lemon drizzle cake, the nation’s favourite. Or so it has been said and appearing regularly on baking shows like the Great British Bake Off, confirms that. I grew up with a lemon Victoria sandwich, filled with a lemon butter cream. We ate this cake on a Sunday evening, following a fireside tea (a special Sunday treat and sounds real quaint but was just family life in the 80’s and 90’s) as we watched David Attenborough’s fascinating shows of animals and insects in the wild.

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I lived with this version of a lemon cake for years and I can‘t remember what the trigger was for trying to create a ‘lemon drizzle’ cake. My first attempt included ground almonds and natural yoghurt along with the usual ingredients. It was delicious and I shared the recipe among my sisters who in turn replicated in. Then as I started making the cake for my colleagues at work, and subsequently as part of a wedding cake, I removed the ground almonds as I was concerned about allergies. In time I also removed the natural yoghurt and doubled up the number of lemons, and there it was, the perfect lemon drizzle cake.

This version of the cake formed the basis of the wedding cake I helped make for the lovely Mary and Donal O’Brien. The basic cake was sandwiched with meringue, lemon curd and a mascarpone cream. I didn’t get to try the final cake but had great fun baking and testing the cakes with the other bakers. That’s a recipe for another day though.

Due to changing food production and air travel we can enjoy lemons any time of year and so this cake is not relegated to summer months. Itis perfect treat in the depths of an Irish winter where you yearn for a hint of the summers past or to come.

I believe a lemon cake should be just that. Lemony!! A hint of lemon is not where I am at. I want the lemon to be front and centre in this cake with no dilution by vanilla or other interlopers. That’s a whole other type of cake.

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The lemon glace icing on this cake is the prefect finish and helps keep the cake fresh for a few days should you not have company with which to enjoy it. I haven’t tried freezing it with the icing but the cake itself freezes beautifully.

8 oz (200g) butter (room temperature)
8 oz (200g) plain flour
10 oz (250g) caster sugar
4 large eggs (room temperature)
1.5 tsp baking powder
3/4 lemons (depending on their size)

10 oz (250g) icing (powdered) sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Cold water
Yellow food colouring (optional)


  • Cream the butter, 8 oz (200g) sugar and grated zest of your lemons together in a bowl until pale and fluffy, using a stand mixer, hand beater or a wooden spoon.
  • Beat 1 egg and 1 heaped tblsp of flour in the butter and sugar mixture until well combined.
  • Beat the remaining eggs, one by one, into the mixture until thoroughly mixed.
  • Sieve the remaining flour and baking powder into the mixture and fold through gently.
  • Finally fold through the juice of one of your zested lemons.
  • Place the prepared mixture into you prepared springform tin and level the top.
  • Place in your preheated oven at 160C fan over or 180C conventional oven.
  • Meanwhile juice two of the remaining lemons and add the remaining caster sugar. Heat together in a saucepan or a microwave until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Cook for 40/45 until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and while still warm, pierce the top of the cake with a skewer, knife or cocktail stick and pour over the warm lemon and sugar drizzle.
  • Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before removing to a wire rack to cool fully.
  • When cake is fully cooled, mix the icing sugar, juice of 1 lemon and enough water to make a thick yet pourable glace icing.
  • If opting for the feathering effect, decant 1 tablespoon of the icing to a small bowl and mix with a few drops of yellow food colouring. Pour into a small piping bag.
  • Place the cake on your serving plate. Pour over the remaining glace icing and spread to cover the whole cake.
  • Quickly, pipe thin parallel lines of yellow icing across the white icing. Drag a cocktail stick, knife or skewer in alternate directions through the icing to create a feathered effect.

Tip 1: If using only three lemons, use the juice of one in the cake, one in the drizzle and one in the icing. If using four use one in the cake, two in the drizzle and one in the icing.

Tip 2: When spread the glace icing use a knife dipped in boiling water. Be gentle as you don’t want to rake up cake crumbs into the icing and make it dirty.

I was yearning for one of these as I wrote so as it was my Dad’s birthday last weekend I thought this would fit the bill as the birthday cake. It was be a subdued party but a party none the less. Family, a lemon drizzle and some rice krispie buns and we had a party in the making. How do you plan to share yours or do you think you’ll enjoy it all by yourself. Let me know how the feathering turns out, easy as pie but looks fancy. Until next time…………………….

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4 thoughts on “Lemon drizzle cake

  1. Looks very good and the style of one layer rather than a sandwich is attractive . I made a Nigel Slater Plum Cake today as we are drowning in plums and it was a success so it may be a keeper .


    1. Thanks MR. Yes it’s a different type of cake as one layer rather than a sandwich. But it is delicious. The plum cake sounds interesting. I may get some plums off you to try it out.


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