Frosted courgette & lemon cake

Frosted courgette & lemon cake

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(70 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

    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 (102)

rewkero's picture

Literally the worst cake I have ever made. Just a horrible greasy mess left in the bottom of the tin after the cooking time was up. I'm not one to throw anything away but the whole of this went into the bin after I tried it. I registered just so I could comment on this, that's how serious this is!!

Alubalu's picture

Created an account just to say that I have never curdled a cake before in my life until I tried this one. Followed the recipe exactly and it ended up a disgusting greasy mess. I would think it might work if you made a traditional sponge then added the extra ingredients, but I would've expected the recipe to say that.

westsidegirl's picture

Why is the tip for the courgette draining not posted till the end of the recipe? I have not cooked with Courgettes before, they are not on my favourite vegetable list, I was given this one as a gift - and I hate wasting food so thought I would make a cake. My two cakes came out of the tins like flat pancakes!! So disappointing. I guess we will eat them, I shall ice them and we can have them with cream or ice cream for a dessert with the grandchildren. I don't think I will make this recipe again Sorry!

Cathy Sims's picture

I am very pleased with the finished result. Used vegetable fat instead of butter and creamed fat and sugar, added eggs and then flour and other dry ingredients. Grated courgettes and put them straight in so did not dry them. Overlooked lemon juice which would have been extra fluid but cake was fine without. Do find when using wholemeal flour that can need extra liquid and have to guess if feel of cake mixture is right.
For the icing decided to use lemon juice to thin if needed. It was just right so left it out.
Just the job for my glut of courgettes. Will make again.

redsix's picture

Having had a BBCGF recipe fail on me a couple of weeks ago I took note of the star rating. Unfortunately I didn't read the comments (who has time?). Consequently my cake mix curdled - something I've never had happen before. Despite this I still baked it and it stuck to the greaseproof paper. While it was in the over I made the drizzle and the cream cheese/butter icing. The drizzle had a thicker consistency than the icing! I feel annoyed that I've wasted 3 eggs, flour, butter, sugar and cream cheese, the latter of which would have been better on a bagel for breakfast.
So that's it. Never again will I use a cake recipe on this site. They are obviously not checked for errors and I can't afford to keep wasting ingredients.

beancuig's picture

First time Ive ever left a comment but having decided to make this recipe I was freaked when I read the previous comments, and really scared it would be a total flop - so I took really careful note of all the tips given. I squeezed the grated courgettes out with teatowels, and left them out to dry for about an hour, creamed the butter and suger first, and made the cake the trad way rather than all-in-together - adding the lemon juice last, result was perfect, didnt curdle at all, both cakes rose, used the drizzle and the lemon curd, madwe the topping creaming the butter and suger first before adding the cream cheese, aded the lemoin zest but only 1 sppon of juice - result was amazing - a resounding success, everyone raved about how great it tasted. super happy - but so glad i read all the comments first! Will definitely be making this again. Would help if the recipe added a few of these tips in so that others who do not read all the comments don't end up with a flop

Ellieredshaw's picture

I agree that this recipe is really bad! I had exact same issues with the fact it came out a fatty stodgy mess. The butter goes all lumpy so the recipe should read that it should be creamed first before the courgettes go in. And the icing was so runny it was more a drizzle! I had to tip in an entire box of icing sugar and it still was too runny to use. A waste of time and resources in the end, will be using a different recipe next time!

catherine2711's picture

I agree that the 'tip' about squeezing the excess water from the courgettes should be included above, or as part of the actual recipe, as I didn't see it till after when I scrolled down, and by this point it was too late.
I also agree that the 'all in one' type method didn't work for me either, despite using very soft butter as instructed; if I had creamed the butter and sugar together before adding the other ingredients I feel I would've ended up with a smoother batter. As it was, I had lumps of butter in my batter that wouldn't smooth out because of the high water content, so mine also turned out a bit like a fatty stodgy pancake. Still tasted good though, just not exactly a cake!
Didn't bother with the icing in the end so I can't comment on that

isabellep's picture

Stodgy cake, more like a thick pancake than a cake. Nice taste though, rubbish icing recipe, so runny!

molehole's picture

Icing recipe is APPALLING. Otherwise, nice cake.

harrietmoe's picture

Really lovely cake! But I had some trouble with mixing the butter and cream cheese - even with very soft butter!! Next time I will make it with less butter in the frosting.

Haylofter's picture

This was a great recipe. The people that complained about the all-in-one method couldn't have read the ingredients list that read 'very soft butter'. Those that complained that the frosting was too runny maybe used half fat cream cheese instead of full fat? Half fat will always go runny when beaten.

Ellieredshaw's picture

My butter was VERY soft and I used full fat cheese...

sandrabowes's picture

I made this cake today , I switched the butter with organic coconut oil , it is delicious . I had a glut of homegrown courgettes to use up , couldn't think of a nicer way to use them .
Will definitely make this cake again.

poppythree's picture

Delicious! We all reall enjoyed this cake. I followed the recipe exactly apart from using all white flour, it looked a little curdled but baked perfectly and tasted yummy! Will definately make again.

lej's picture

I have made this cake three times now. The first time I was making it for my sister's birthday last year and it didn't rise much but I hadn't read the tip about squeezing excess liquid from the courgettes. When.I tried again having done so it was fine (the mixture does look curdled even after folding in the flour but it doesn't affect the finished cake) and everyone declared it delicious. I have just made it again for my niece's wedding. There were three other cakes to choose from but this one went in a flash - when I went to get myself some cake all that was left of this one was a tiny two-mouthful slice but plenty of all the other three (including my chocolate one!). I did have to put more icing sugar in the frosting mixture and it still seemed a tiny bit soft but it set firmer after the cake was stored in the fridge overnight and was fine after that even though it was a very hot day. I'll definitely be making it again!

marijas's picture

I can't comment on the taste of this cake as it is currently in the freezer awaiting consumption. However, I found that making it was problematic. First of all, I fully concur with those who posted that the final mixture looked curdled and I did wonder about this. I too found it odd that it doesn't seem to be necessary to beat the butter and sugar together to begin with. Furthermore, the cooking time was totally off, I had to give it a good extra 20 minutes to half an hour. Finally, my cakes simply did not rise. Each one was 1.5cm high at best. Please note that I am not a beginner baker/chef, quite the opposite in fact.
Now the taste might be really good, but the above left me quite apprehensive. Lucky me that the occasion I was baking it for was cancelled at the last minute as I'm not sure I'd have liked to serve this up to guests...

molehole's picture

Please please do NOT make this cake, made it yesterday and the icing is completely awful; so runny it caused the top layer of the cake to slide off the bottom. As soon as the top layer was put on, all the inside just ran out the sides - completely useless. However much icing sugar was added made no difference, it was unusable and ruined the cake, if you are making this cake please use a different icing recipe if you don't want it to look like a pile of vomit on a cake stand. Let's hope it tastes nice.

hollywoozle's picture

I loved this cake! I switched out the butter for an olive oil spread suitable for baking (as 70% less saturated fat), missed out the lemon curd and used a low-fat cream cheese for the frosting. The result was very moist and reasonably dense (needed a fork to eat it) but it was totally yummy! Various family members tried it and all seemed to really enjoy it. It's not your conventional bake, no, but for a relatively healthy alternative I found it delicious.

niamh_ryan's picture

This cake is fabulous! I made it for my birthday and everyone raved about it.
I did make a few small tweaks: first, I creamed the butter and sugar before adding the lemon zest, vanilla and poppy seeds and only then added the lemon juice and courgette (didn't bother squeezing them first, though I did peel them); I used 200g self-raising flour instead of half and half (this made it really light); and made a lemon butter-cream icing instead of the cream cheese icing (used half for the filling along with lemon curd and put the other half on top). I also added a large teaspoon of lemon curd to the cake mix which gave it an extra lemony boost as well as adding to the moisture. The mixture did look slightly curdled when it went in the oven, but came out beautifully anyway.
This will definitely become one of my staple cake recipes!


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Tips (2)

beverlyba's picture

Curdled appearance resulting in a greasy flat cake - horrible - what a waste of ingredients. Spotted the 'Tip' afterwards which points out - 'cream butter & sugar first, using flour as stabaliser' - don't do it all in one as suggested in recipe.

mrscbishopwilton's picture

I have courgette phobic teenagers who tucked into this heartily and who remain in the dark as to its ingredients! Definitely read the previous tips and hints. Courgettes MUST be squeezed of their every last drop of water - I lined a tea towel with kitchen roll and then rolled it up as tight as possible and sat it under some heavy recipe books whilst I got on with other ingredients. Cream butter and sugar first. When adding eggs, do it cautiously and simply stabilise with tablespoonfuls of the flour if necessary. Baked beautifully, very moist and very tasty.