Lemon Drizzle Cake

Revisiting a Classic

Just this week someone mysteriously left a bag of large plump lemons on the table in my office.  Whether a thoughtful gesture or a reminder to rejuvenate this blog, they beckoned with possibility.   When I asked my just graduated from high school son what he would like to make of these lemons, he replied wistfully, “You know lemon cake you used to make?”  and it was settled.  I enjoyed reminiscing with him about how I discovered this classic recipe while he extracted every last drop of juice in the lemons and made the drizzle.   I hope you will be able to enjoy a slice with summer berries and share some fond memories over the aroma and deliciousness that is Lemon Drizzle Cake.

Republished from Get Your Drizzle On, 5/12/12

When I added a slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake to my lunch tray at the V & A Cafe of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, I wasn’t even that hungry.  But, hey, the name of the cake was, well, so darn cute!  Besides, I figured, I have this lemon blog which makes me somewhat obligated to sample such aptly named treats for my, uh-hem,  readers.  For kicks, I googled the cake title when I got back home and was surprised to find that more than being cutely named, Lemon Drizzle Cake is actually a British classic.   I researched and reworked the recipe, working primarily off one from  BBC Good Food, and have included it here both in standard and metric with the help of this great conversion tool.    I have made the recipe several times since and always to rave reviews.   Easy, dependable, and delicious–the hallmarks of a classic.

American readers will notice two ingredients not often called for in recipes from the states: caster sugar and self-rising flour.  Caster sugar is the name of a very fine sugar in Britain, so named because the grains are small enough to fit though a sugar “caster” or sprinkler.  It is sold as “superfine” or “baker’s” sugar in the United States.  Because of its fineness, it dissolves more quickly than regular white sugar, and so is especially useful in meringues and cold liquids.  To make  your own, grind granulated sugar for a couple of minutes in a food processor, letting the sugar dust settle before opening.

Caster Sugar is sold as Baker’s Sugar in the United States. Self-rising flour keeps measuring simple as it already includes the baking powder and salt.

Self-rising flour (or “self-raising” as it is called in the UK) is simply flour with baking soda evenly distributed throughout.  You can also make this ingredient at home by adding about 1  teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt per cup of flour, blending well.  Personally, I like the ease of having a bag of self-rising flour on hand–no measuring spoons or extra ingredients to be hampered by, which just adds to the ease of this recipe.

Lemon Drizzle Cake  is lovely with tea, coffee, or a tall glass of milk.  Increase the lemon quotient by adding a dollop of lemon curd atop each slice.  For an after dinner dessert to die for, serve with mixed berries, fresh whipped cream and a flute of chilled Lambrusco or champagne.  Lemon Drizzle Cake has easily become my favorite London import.  I hope it will become your “go to” recipe, too.  All it takes is butter, sugar, flour, eggs and three to four large lemons!

Lemon Drizzle Cake
1 1/2 c. butter/3 sticks/340 grams
1 1/2 c. caster sugar/340 grams
6 eggs
3 Tbs.finely lemon peel/60 ml
2 1/2 c. self-rising flour/312 grams
The Drizzle
2/3 c. lemon juice/about 5 oz.
2/3 caster sugar/150 grams
1-2 Tbs. finely grated lemon peel/20-40 ml


1.  Pre-heat oven to 160 C/gas 4 or 325°F.

2.  Zest and juice three to four large lemons.

3.  For the batter, beat together  softened butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy, then add eggs, one at a time, slowly mixing through.  Gradually add in the self-rising flour, then add the finely grated lemon zest and mix until well combined.

4.  Line two large or three small loaf pans with parchment paper (my favorite new tip), then spoon in the mixture and level  top.

Leave parchment paper handles for easy removal of cakes when done baking.

5.   Bake for 50-55 mins until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

6.  While the cake is baking, mix together the lemon juice, zest, and caster sugar for the drizzle.

7.  When cake is golden on top, remove from oven and place pans on cooling racks.   Make three lengthwise slits about 1/2-1 inch deep on top of cake.  Spoon drizzle into slits and then overtop entire cake while still warm.

8.  When completely cool, pick up by edges of parchment and remove from pans.  Slice and serve. Will keep in an airtight container for three to four days, or freeze for up to one month.

Lemon Drizzle Cake makes a bite-sized appearance, Victorian style, at the Portobello Market in West London’s Notting Hill.

Portobello Market Sign

Serious crowds throng the market on Saturday afternoons.

The Elgin Crescent and Talbot Road section of the Portobello Market is where crowds thin out and colorful characters peddle their produce to locals.