This deliciously moist vegan lemon drizzle cake is a traditional British teatime treat. Add a zingy lemon drizzle syrup for a super-moist sponge, and an optional lemon icing for a pretty and even more lemony finish!
🍴Why you will love this recipe
A slice of very moist and zingy lemon drizzle cake is an absolute treat with a nice cup of tea, and this recipe that I've been working on for a while is a winner. I've included optional extras - a drizzle syrup if you're after a traditional vegan lemon drizzle cake, and also a lemony icing which drips beautifully down the sides, and looks stunning topped with lemon zest - perfect if you're after a bit more of a 'showstopper' for an afternoon tea or cake sale.
They are optional, of course, and the cake would still be lovely without either, but for the cake I photographed here I used both and it was utterly delicious.
Using both the drizzle and icing makes this a VERY lemony vegan lemon cake, so if you're after something a little more delicate do opt for one or the other. But if you're a citrus fan like me, the double-drizzle cake is insanely good!
📝 What you need
Lemons There is a lot of lemon in this cake - so choose some lovely, juicy ones! Always go for un-waxed lemons.
Dairy-free margarine Make sure you use a good-quality block margarine, (and not a tub of spread). Block margarine has a much lower percentage of water, so holds up so much better in baking than spread. I like Flora Plant Butter, Naturli Block or Stork Baking Block (NB Stork's tubs of spread are not vegan, but the blocks are).
Dairy-free yoghurt Choose an unsweetened yoghurt - I usually use soya as it has a high protein content which helps in baking, but oat or coconut yoghurt will work well here too.
Ground almonds These add a lovely rich, moistness to the sponge, and a very subtle almond flavour to the cake. Delicious!
Self-raising flour I usually use self-raising flour in cakes, but if you don't have any you can simply make your own. Use 250g plain flour, and add 2.5tsp baking powder to it. You will then also need ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda as specified in the recipe.
Cornflour This adds a lovely texture to the crumb of the cake.
You will need a sturdy 2lb loaf tin for this cake. I've discovered in testing that if I try to make the cake too tall and thin (using a tall and narrow rectangular tin) it is more prone to sink a bit in the middle. So a standard size wide loaf tin will give the best shape and rise to your lemon drizzle loaf. Mine is this Tala 2lb loaf tin which is pleasingly heavy and good value.
Whilst you don’t need a food mixer for the cake mix itself, (just a large bowl and a good spatula or spoon will do fine), some mechanical help with beating does really benefit the texture of the sponge.
A good hand whisk like this one from Morphy Richards at under £13 will definitely do the job, and will spare your arm from an awful lot of beating by hand.
But a good food mixer, although quite a big investment, really does make a huge difference for very light and fluffy cakes, buttercreams, and also kneading bread or pizza dough, whisking plant cream or aquafaba, and anything else that needs a lot of power. I have this KMix by Kenwood which is £289 and worth every penny – I’ve had it for over 10 years now and it is really good quality.
⭐️ Reader Testimonials
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "I just made this today and it’s probably the best lemon cake I tasted! Easy recipe with a delicious result. Thanks! 🙂 " Elena
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "Made this cake on Tuesday as the ‘drizzle’ and iced on Wednesday, so complete lemon over-load! All I can say is, absolutely delicious and non vegans who tried it agreed too. I’ve tried other vegan lemon cake recipes and they were disgusting with a really dense and dry texture. I’ve also bought the ‘Bosh’ lemon cake and that was disgusting too, so this is the only one I’ll ever make now. So glad I’ve come across your site." Penny
❄️ Freezing and Storing
Having made quite a few of these for recipe testing, I can confirm that the cake freezes really well. I sliced mine and separated the slices with a small square of baking parchment, then wrapped the whole lot in foil. What a treat to add a slice of homemade cake to a packed lunch in the morning, so it has just defrosted by lunchtime. It tastes like it was freshly baked that day!
To store the cake without freezing, just make sure it is sealed in an airtight container and it will keep well for 2-3 days as it is such a moist sponge.
Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake
For the cake:
- 150 g dairy-free margarine
- 225 g caster sugar
- 150 g dairy-free unsweetened yoghurt (soya, oat or coconut work well)
- 2 lemons
- 250 g self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 50 g ground almonds
- 2 tablespoon cornflour
For the (optional) lemon drizzle syrup:
- 75 g icing sugar
- ½ lemon
For the (optional) lemon icing:
- 125 g icing sugar
- ½ lemon
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan) / 340°F / Gas Mark 5. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.
- In a food mixer or large bowl, beat together the margarine and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Add the yoghurt and the zest of the 2 lemons (save the zested lemons as you will need their juice for the syrup and icing later on), then beat again slowly. The mixture might look 'curdled' at this point but don't worry - it isn't! It will come back together again when you add the flour.
- Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground almonds and cornflour and gently fold together until the mixture is just combined and no lumps remain.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, level with a knife and bash the tin firmly onto the work surface to remove air bubbles.
- Place into the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes until an inserted knife or skewer comes out clean. If the cake looks like it is browning too quickly, cover with foil for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking. Leave the cake in the tin whilst you follow the instructions below.
For the lemon drizzle syrup:
- Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl or jug, then stir in the juice of half a lemon and stir well. If the mixture is a little too thick (it should be the consistency of a pouring syrup, not a thick icing), add a little more lemon juice or water just half a teaspoon at a time.
- Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then prick it all over with a cocktail stick or skewer.
- Slowly pour over the drizzle syrup. (Be sure to spread it evenly around the cake - spoon quite a bit of syrup around the edges where the cake will be a little drier, rather than just pouring it all in the middle!).
For the (optional) lemon icing:
- Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a mug or small bowl, then add it just a teaspoon at a time to the icing sugar. You will probably need about 5-6 teaspoons in total, to reach a fairly thick, pourable icing that will just start to drip down the sides a little. (If you add a little too much lemon juice don't panic, just add more icing sugar to thicken it up).
- When the cake is completely cool, (ideally stored in an airtight container overnight), spoon the icing onto the top of the cake. You can grate over some lemon zest to finish it off, or use candied lemon slices, lavender flowers or fresh berries to decorate.
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