Lighter lemon drizzle cake

Lighter lemon drizzle cake

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(30 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 40 mins


Cuts into 12 slices
Angela Nilsen gives one of our site's most popular cakes the ultimate healthy makeover by reducing fat

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal243
  • fat10.2g
  • saturates1.4g
  • carbs35.4g
  • sugars21.5g
  • fibre0.9g
  • protein4.7g
  • salt0.34g
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  • 75ml rapeseed oil, plus extra for the tin
    Rapeseed oil

    Rapeseed oil

    If you want a light alternative to other cooking oils, rapeseed is a great choice and has…

  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
    Baking powder

    Baking powder

    bay-king pow-dah

    Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

  • 50g ground almond
  • 50g polenta



    An Italian storecupboard staple, polenta has its roots in the peasant cuisine of northern Italy…

  • finely grated zest 2 lemons



    Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…

  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 2 large egg



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • 225g natural yogurt

For the lemon syrup

  • 85g caster sugar
  • juice 2 lemon (about 5 tbsp)



    Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…


  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Lightly oil a 20cm round x 5cm deep cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. For the cake, put the flour, baking powder, ground almonds and polenta in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon zest and sugar, then make a dip in the centre. Beat the eggs in a bowl, then stir in the yogurt. Tip this mixture along with the oil into the dip (see step-by-step number 1), then briefly and gently stir with a large metal spoon so everything is just combined, without overmixing.

  2. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the top (step 2). Bake for 40 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cover loosely with foil for the final 5-10 mins if it starts to brown too quickly.

  3. While the cake cooks, make the lemon syrup. Tip the caster sugar into a small saucepan with the lemon juice and 75ml water. Heat over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Raise the heat, boil for 4 mins until slightly reduced and syrupy, then remove from the heat.

  4. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool briefly in the tin. While it is still warm, turn it out of the tin, peel off the lining paper and sit the cake on a wire rack set over a baking tray or similar. Use a skewer to make lots of small holes all over the top of the cake (step 3). Slowly spoon over half the lemon syrup (step 4) and let it soak in. Spoon over the rest in the same way, brushing the edges and sides of the cake too with the last of the syrup.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (49)

sfsack's picture

I make this a fair bit, use 100g of ground almonds, instead of polenta, and add blueberries. I make in a loaf tin and it is delicious!

topkok68's picture

Made this yesterday and it was superb! Followed recipe exactly except for replacing the rapeseed oil for coconut oil and made individual mini loaf cakes (cooked for about 20 mins).

EmiRose's picture

Just made this and it is scrumptious!
I altered it slightly and used 200ml egg white rather than whole eggs, to reduce the calories/fat a bit and also added some fresh raspberries.

mcg's picture

Rapeseed oil should not be heated and should not be used in cooking. It is lower in saturated fat than butter, which may be why people believe it to be a healthy option. However, saturated fat has been shown repeatedly not to be the cause of heart disease or furred up arteries; indeed rapeseed oil is more likely to contribute to these as the molecular structure at the end of its process is not recognised in nature and so is in effect a poison.

martus's picture

Nice, but a bit dry - I guess that's what happens when you reduce fat.
Good for tea with some custard though.

elleme's picture

I tried this today and it's easily as good as any higher calorie version I've had before, if not better. The cake had a nice light texture. I used coarse cornmeal, 2% fat yoghurt and organic rapeseed oil, which didn't have a strong taste or smell, so don't be afraid it will spoil the cake. I used slightly less water for the syrup after reading the comments and I pierced the cake loads, but there was still more syrup on top than inside the cake. Fortunately the zest ensured the inside was still lemony.

piggybits's picture

Looked nice, smelled nice... but no, didn't taste nice, ended up on the bird table.. Easy recipe but would rather not have any cake at all than eat this one.

dirtgirl's picture

Have just made this very easy Drizzle cake, using lemons from my tree. I used Fine Polenta as years ago I made the mistake of using Traditional Polenta in a cake and ended up with an awful gritty cake. I did substitute EVOO instead of the rapeseed oil after reading comments from others, plus reduced amount of water in final syrup. A great end result, we served it with thick cream, so much for saving on calories!!

LittleDave212's picture

Hi everyone! I am a baking god, so I know when a recipe is good or not.... And I can tell you this recipe is GREAT!!!! I was the most popular guy at the tea party, due to my wonderful wonderful lemon cake! Get cooking!!!!!!!!!!

The frenchie's picture

This cake was really easy to make, it turned out very tasty but I didn't really like the gritty side of it due to the polenta.. I don't know if it was intentional or not.

raspberry's picture

I make this with about 5 lemons and reduce by boiling for the drizzle as I like an intense tangy flavour. For a low fat recipe it is first rate.

patricia211151's picture

I made this for tea in the garden with a friend yesterday and was slightly disappointed that it turned out a bit rubbery and not light and spongy (no doubt due to the polenta and oil).....however we both appreciated that it was a low fat treat and really enjoyed the great lemony flavour. Next time I would not boil the syrup but leave it crunchy

jaywin's picture

Have made this completely jummy cake a number of times now. Last time changed flour to gluten free for my sister. Took bit longer to cook but was lovely and light and very very moreish (if there's such a word) have tried it with orange as well. Jum. Definitely a big family favourite now. Tried it last year and did the alternate method this year. Thanks Angela for another great recipe.

suziq123's picture

My guests all agreed this was a really tasty cake. I replaced the oil for coconut oil. It had a mild coconutty taste but was still really lemony. I agree that the syrup didn't look that syrupy but if was still nice. I don't think I used enough. Next time I will use up all the syrup and keep pouring. Would like to try out less sugar next time though.

alice24's picture

Fantastic cake :) I did it as a tray bake and slightly reduced the cooking time to 25 minutes, but it came out wonderfully. Really moist and lemony. Will definitely do again!

gardener27's picture

This recipe is amazing. My birthday is in early February and I wanted a low fat cake to celebrate. I wasn't sure what to expect but it turned out very well. Everyone was impressed. I even used 0% yogurt and it turned out just fine. Well done Angela.

dwalstow3's picture

I've recently baked this recipe and taken it to my local 'Clandestine Cake Club'. This months theme was 'Low fat delights' as we all like to attempt that 'new start' in January. This cake was a hit as it was one of few cakes that tasted like a normal cake rather than a low fat cake. I will be keeping the recipe as one of my favourites!

silverfox61's picture

I used gluten free self- raising flour instead and made sure that the lemon syrup was quite thick, it is absolutely delicious. I shall be adding this recipie to my Gluten Free cake list.

missferreira's picture

when i read the ingredients i thought adding polenta was very unusual however the cake was one of the nicest ones i've made, it had a grainy lemony taste -delicious!

tinx100's picture

On a reluctant diet so decided to try this and I'm really happy! Lovely, moist with a great texture. I added the juice of half a lemon to the batter mix and it was delicious. If only all diet/lighter food tasted this good.........


Questions (2)

rdimbleby's picture

Can I swap the yogurt for something else?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there. For best results we wouldn't substitute the yogurt, it's a lighter version of the classic lemon drizzle and needs the yogurt for the texture.

Tips (5)

LittleDave212's picture

Love life

ntrewartha's picture

I replaced the rapeseed oil with grapeseed oil as I find that rapeseed oil can be bitter in cakes. I also replaced the polenta with almond meal, used 2 x 125g tubs of low fat natural yogurt and omitted the water from the syrup. Honestly the best lemon drizzle recipe I've ever made. Such a light and moist cake. You could easily serve it warm with a dollop of vanilla yoghurt for a dessert.

EmiRose's picture

I did pretty Much the same thing but also substituted the whole eggs for 200ml whipped egg white. Lowers the cals/fat even further!