Frosted courgette & lemon cake

Frosted courgette & lemon cake

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(64 ratings)

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 25 mins Plus cooling


Cuts into 12 slices
This luscious cake is lemony and light, with an extra citrus kick from the lemon syrup drizzle

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freeze drizzled bases only

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal375
  • fat23g
  • saturates14g
  • carbs38g
  • sugars26g
  • fibre1g
  • protein7g
  • salt0.68g
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  • 250g pack unsalted butter, very soft, plus extra for the tin
  • 3 unwaxed lemons



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

  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs



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

  • 2 medium courgettes, coarsely grated (you'll need 300g/10oz flesh)



    The courgette is a variety of cucurtbit, which means it's from the same family as cucumber,…

  • 1 tsp poppy seed, plus extra to decorate
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 100g plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp 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…

  • 85g icing sugar
  • 200g pack full-fat soft cheese
  • 4 tbsp lemon curd (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter 2 x 20cm sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Zest 2 lemons, then squeeze their juice into a separate bowl. Put 200g butter, the caster sugar, eggs, courgettes, poppy seeds, vanilla and lemon zest into a mixing bowl. Beat to a creamy batter. Stir in 1 tbsp lemon juice, the flours, baking powder and ¼ tsp salt. Spoon the mix into the tins, then bake for 25 mins or until risen, golden and springy in the middle.

  2. Make a drizzle by mixing another tbsp lemon juice with 25g icing sugar. Put the remaining icing sugar and butter into a bowl, add the soft cheese, remaining lemon juice (about 2 tbsp) and grate in the final lemon’s zest. Beat to make a creamy, smooth frosting.

  3. When the cakes are ready, cool for 15 mins in their tins, then turn onto a cooling rack. Prick several times with a cocktail stick, spoon over the drizzle and cool completely. Can be frozen at this stage for up to 1 month. Put one cake onto a serving plate and spread with just under half the frosting. Spread over the lemon curd, if using. Top with the second cake, spread the remaining frosting over the top and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

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Comments (96)

zoeley's picture

I baked this according to the recipe, without reading the comments which recommended creaming the butter and sugar before gradually adding the eggs... My mixture curdled, not at all a creamy batter. But it rose perfectly and wasn't dense at all so I don't think the curdling made any difference, thankfully! What a delicious cake and an unusual mix if ingredients. Love it!

Foodie98's picture

Unfortunately this recipe was very disappointing and I ended up with an inedible cake! The recipe should instruct you to cream the butter and sugar together at first instead of combining everything but the dry ingredients. Ended up with a sloppy mixture with uncombined butter and ultimately a bad cake and wasted ingredients!! Disappointed after previous comments were so positive.

patriciaf's picture

Lovely and light with a good lemon taste.

helenclare5's picture

This is a lovely cake - I didn't see the tips re squeezing out the courgette liquid but I did use a fairly large courgette (think small marrow) and it wasn't too wet but it did need the additional 10 mins cooking time. It was a very nice texture although not so much 'cakey', but still light. I bypassed the cream cheese frosting and used whipped cream with lemon curd stirred through which was delicious. (only issue for me was dropping the half we didn't eat - soooo disappointing as no second helpings!!). Will definitely be making again - oh and yes my mixture did curdle but I never do find that to be a problem to the end result in cake baking!

clarey2204's picture

Lovely cake, used up some courgettes given to me from bumper crop at friends allotment. I did squeeze the courgettes and a fair amount of water came out so would advise doing this. My frosting was very runny, not sure if this was down to the summer heat or maybe should reduce the amount of lemon juice. I had to add lots more icing sugar to thicken but very nice and would make again.

marion1960's picture

I wish the recipe had been laid out differently .
Quantities used for the cake , separate to those used for the filling

maesgwynne's picture

Have just made this for a friends birthday, most disappointed, should have read all the comments! I ended up with a curdled mixture that didn't rise much, also runny icing.will try this recipe again but would cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs with a little flour, then fold in flour and courgettes last, with lemon juice and zest.
Not sure whether to give it to her or not!

dlockhart's picture

Wow this is sensational!

Thanks to everyone for the tips: I squeezed the excess moisture from the courgettes, creamed the butter and sugar first with my trusty Kenwood before gradually adding the eggs and then mixing in everything else. If you have particularly juicy lemons you might not need all the juice for the frosting. Completely forgot about the lemon curd though...

cjsansom's picture

Delicious! I followed the recipe to the letter and it worked perfectly (didn't need to remove excess liquid from courgettes etc). Think this cake is going to be the new family favourite (and good thing too as we still have a glut of courgettes to cook).

mrscbishopwilton's picture

I have courgette phobic teenagers who tucked into this quite happily and remain blissfully unaware of the ingredients. Tips are as many have already mentioned:-
*Squeeze courgettes of every scrap of moisture in a tea towel lined with kitchen roll
*Cream butter and sugar first
*Add eggs cautiously. If there is a hint that it may curdle, sift in some of the flour to stabilise and repeat if necessary till all eggs added
*Fold in remaining ingredients to combine. Delicious!

coraliealb's picture

I made this morning, using the magazine recipe, which doesn't mention squeezing the courgettes, ended up with a heavy soggy cake, am hoping it will taste good, either with double cream or custard. After reading the comments here I will try it again though.

peasnkews's picture

Absolutely fabulous! A moist light cake which was a hit with everyone. There were many surprises when we told them what was in it!

Like many have said before, you really have to make sure the courgettes are really dry. I used a clean tea towel to squeeze the liquid out. The courgettes were then left to drain. The sugar and butter were creamed first before adding the eggs one at a time. Then I added the lemon zest, with the vanilla extract, courgettes then folded in the dry ingredients. The cakes took 28 minutes to cook.

What a excellent way to use up the glut of our courgettes. It certainly makes a change for us as we always make courgette chutney!.

beckygibbs's picture

I made this cake yesterday and also got a horrible, curdled mess. I baked it anyway and it turned out like two thick pancakes. I didn't bother to make the frosting, but tried the "cake" with double cream. It was delicious. Like a very lemony pancake. My friend who visited also loved it with cream and home-made redcurrant jelly!!

abbyhope's picture

I read through all the comments first, so acted on some of the advice given. As a result I got a beautifully risen, moist and delicious cake. Here's how I did it... I squeezed every last drop of water from my courgettes, creamed the sugar and butter first, before adding the eggs one-by-one (with a little of the flour to prevent curdling) then chucked the rest of the ingredients in, beating until smooth. Then I divided the mix between the two tins, making sure to scoop out the middle to allow the cake to rise flat. The cream cheese icing worked perfectly as well - remember if you don't use full-fat you will need to use far more icing sugar (also in this weather make sure you store it in the fridge or you are guaranteed a sloppy mess!)
Overall a perfectly delicious way to use up courgettes - may make cupcakes next time!

harlyn's picture

Made this before I read the comments! So how did mine turn out? Well, it doesn't really rise and is rather a dense, heavy cake. The filling and icing was somewhat runny and as a consequence, the top layer of the cake wants to slide off the bottom layer. That said, the flavour of the cake is superb and I rather like the way it's a bit crusty on the top. You'll have to eat it with a spoon because it's far too messy to pick up with your fingers. I like it but may look for more of a sponge type consistency from my next courgette cake.....and I currently have quite a glut of courgettes!

junejoanne's picture

This recipe is absolutely shocking.

I got a curdled mess at the first step of making the batter, carried on regardless and added the flour, cooked it and thought I'd recovered, it looked ok.

Unfortunately, like many people before, it didn't rise nearly as much as that photo, and was really dense.

The real disaster was the frosting though. I don't know if it's because I'm in the UK and our soft cheese isn't the same, but despite adding about 8 times as much icing sugar as the recipe asks for, I couldn't get anything even remotely thick enough to spread on the top or inside the cake. I'm now left with a kind of stodgy mess and a big pool of sweet sauce - it may taste nice but there's no way of serving it!

eleanor1087's picture

Can this cake be frozen does any one know? Thanks

reynon's picture

Terrrible recipe. Lazy way to make a cake - don't throw everything in, cream your butter and sugar first. Totally unpredictable ingredients as well. Mine didn't work at all.

reynon's picture

Terrrible recipe. Lazy way to make a cake - don't throw everything in, cream your butter and sugar first. Totally unpredictable ingredients as well. Mine didn't work at all.

nmccarthy1104's picture

very dense cake! make sure you squeeze as much moisture as humanly possible out of the grated courgette, and try and use as fresh courgettes as possible!

ive made this twice and they both went down very well - i would suggest you reveal the "secret ingredient" after everyone has tasted and complimented it - a few of my family and friends admitted they would never have tried it if theyd have known beforehand!


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