A vegan lemon cake loaf cut into slices

Vegan lemon cake

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(140 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 30 mins Plus cooling


Serves 12

Try baking a vegan version of lemon cake. Light and zingy, it also works well if you replace the flour and baking powder with gluten-free alternatives

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Dairy-free
  • Egg-free
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan

Nutrition: Per serving

  • kcal276
  • fat9g
  • saturates1g
  • carbs47g
  • sugars29g
  • fibre1g
  • protein2g
  • salt0.3g
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  • 100ml vegetable oil, plus extra for the tin
  • 275g self-raising flour
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 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…

  • 1 lemon, zested, ½ juiced



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

For the icing

  • 150g icing sugar
  • ½ lemon, juiced



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


  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Oil a 1lb loaf tin and line it with baking parchment. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest in a bowl. Add the oil, lemon juice and 170ml cold water, then mix until smooth.

  2. Pour the mixture into the tin. Bake for 30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove and transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool fully.

  3. For the icing, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Mix in just enough lemon juice to make an icing thick enough to pour over the loaf (if you make the icing too thin, it will just run off the cake).

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Comments, questions and tips

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7th Mar, 2020
Love this recipe, second time better than the 1st. Would say especially to previous comment always do skewer test first and cooked for 35 mins. Def a keeper!
5th Mar, 2020
I didn't read comments before I made it. Was excited when it had risen. After 30 mins I opened oven and it collapsed. Liquid in the centre. Needs much longer. I don't understand why that hasn't been adjusted in recipe. Frustrating.
8th Mar, 2020
same with me...needs longer in oven. Was amusing for friends however
Tatiana Viegas's picture
Tatiana Viegas
24th Nov, 2019
I have lost count how many times I have done this cake, always come out amazingly! So simple and quick to make! Just make sure you don’t forget to add the water as it is not listed in the ingredients but it says to add in the “method”. It seems that a lot of people forget to add the water. I would suggest BBCgoodFood to just add the water together with all of the other ingredients. Once I have excluded the lemon and replaced the sugar with coconut sugar instead and it come out like caramel flavour everyone loved it. When I need to do a quick cake or cupcakes this is the recipe that I always use :) !
Bethan Lygo's picture
Bethan Lygo
2nd Nov, 2019
Needed longer to bake than the recipe said. Was absolutely lovely though. Added extra lemon. Tasted fantastic!!
Susan Tate's picture
Susan Tate
1st Nov, 2019
Waaaay too much sugar, not nice!!!
22nd Oct, 2019
I tried this recipe for a vegan friend. So easy and even more delicious. I make it regularly because I have a lemon tree in the garden and it comes out perfectly every time. 10/10.
Tricia Moynihan's picture
Tricia Moynihan
22nd Sep, 2019
As others have said, there was too much mix for the 1lb loaf tin, however I would stick to using that size, but put some mix into cup cake papers, as it’s not a massive amount over. Instead of the icing, I used the topping from a regular lemon drizzle cake on this site, and it is delicious. I’ll certainly be making it again.
28th Aug, 2019
I haven't baked much. I found this an easy and tasty cake to make, and my family liked it too. I needed a longer baking time - an extra 20 mins.
Lisa Tur's picture
Lisa Tur
23rd Aug, 2019
First time making a vegan cake (I'm not vegan!) knew from the quantity of ingredients that it would need a 2lb loaf tin, didn't use a lemon, added lemon extract instead, cake mix was like a thick batter mix, baked for 45 minutes and whilst pale in colour, tasted yummy - will make again


Kayleigh Kindred's picture
Kayleigh Kindred
23rd Aug, 2019
Could you substitute the water in this with almond milk? Would it make it more moist or light or would there not be much difference?
19th Mar, 2018
Do you think this recipe would work using yoghurt instead of oil? If so, how much would you use (the same weight for weight substitution - i.e. 100g for 100ml?) - I'm curious! Thanks for your help :)
goodfoodteam's picture
19th Mar, 2018
Thanks for your question. Fats such as oil and butter help to create and maintain the lightness in a cake's texture. Yogurt as a substitute unfortunately will not work in this way.
11th Feb, 2018
I made this gluten free (for vegan and gluten intolerant colleagues) as per the suggestion in the magazine, by using Dove farm gluten free flour. My problem was that the oil and water seemed to separate during the baking and the cake turned out in two layers, a yellow layer on top and a white layer underneath. The top layer was ok, but the lower layer was dense and hard. Was this a problem caused by lack of gluten?
goodfoodteam's picture
12th Feb, 2018
We're sorry to hear the cake didn't work out for you. The lack of gluten should not have affected it in this way so we're wondering if perhaps the cake mixture wasn't thoroughly combined?
Kerry Kirby's picture
Kerry Kirby
6th Jan, 2018
Lovely recipe! Would I be able to substitute any of the lemon to make it a more vanilla Madeira cake? I love the Nigella traditional one but haven’t been able to find anything close vegan.
Asha Shasha's picture
Asha Shasha
22nd Dec, 2017
Can i substitute loaf tin to 22 cm square pan ?
Deeba Ashraf's picture
Deeba Ashraf
21st Dec, 2017
I have tried this recipe once before and it was great. Does it work well if you substitute limes for lemons?
Angela Henderson's picture
Angela Henderson
16th Dec, 2017
can I use sunflower oil instead of vegetable oil
17th Sep, 2018
I used Sunflower rather than vegetable as it's (slightly) healthier. And it worked a treat!!


Tatiana Viegas's picture
Tatiana Viegas
24th Nov, 2019
Don’t forget to add the 170ml of water!!!
missrosewilde's picture
29th Jun, 2019
1. The cake tastes even better if you use two lemons instead of one. Add the zest of two lemons and the juice of one lemon to the mixture, then save the juice of the other lemon for the icing. 2. The ingredients list doesn’t list 170ml of water, but it’s in the method. You will definitely need to add water to the batter or it will be way too dry. You could also use a plant milk of your choice instead of water. 3. The batter should thick and smooth, not too sticky or doughy. It should be thick enough to fold air into but it should be liquid and pourable. When you pick up a lot of the batter with a wooden spoon it should slowly drop off. If it’s too thick or doughy you’ve either added a bit too much flour or you need to add more moisture. You can try adding a little vegetable oil, margarine, or water to solve this. 4. I recommend baking this in a fan oven for around 45 - 50 minutes. 5. After it’s baked, make sure you allow the cake to fully cool before removing it from the tin or it might rip or stick to the baking parchment. I recommend waiting 15 or even 20 minutes for the cake to cool. 6. Before adding the icing, take a fork and prod holes all over the top of the cake. This allows some of the lemony icing to sink in adding even more flavour to the cake. I recommend using a slightly thinner icing, but if you prefer to use thick icing, pour a little lemon juice over the top of the cake so it sinks into the holes before putting on the icing. 7. For best results use 25 cm 10“ loaf tin
Montana Rose's picture
Montana Rose
3rd Dec, 2018
I added more lemon juice to the icing than suggested to make the icing more gooey
Elaine Gear's picture
Elaine Gear
26th Nov, 2018
These are my tips after my experience of this recipe. - Elaine A. The 170ml of water required is not on the ingredient list, someone said it was a bit dry when mixing so i guess they missed that. Its quite a liquidy batter when mixed. B. Add more lemon, as its not very lemony. More of a sweet taste then tang. C. Use a 2lb loaf tin, as i have just finished baking with a 1lb one as the recipe states and now i am going to have to spend the rest of the night cleaning my oven floor from spewed out cake mix. D. I used gluten free flour instead of regular so it makes it gluten friendly too.
28th Jan, 2018
Really yummy cake, it's worth adding the zest of 2-3 lemons and the juice of 1-2 for a more flavoursome cake, then making a drizzle with the juice of a lemon and 200g of icing sugar to keep the cake moist.
Paula Millard's picture
Paula Millard
20th Jan, 2018
Really easy recipe enjoyed by non vegans. Added lemon drizzle topping instead.
andy rich
3rd Oct, 2017
I used soda water and swapped the topping for lemon drizzle. The lemon drizzle was 110g sugar and three lemons.
Gracie's Mum
9th Feb, 2017
Zest of 2 lemons & i used coconut oil after reading an earlier comment & it was lovely. And so easy
Gracie's Mum
9th Feb, 2017
19th Jan, 2018
Got the cake in the oven as I type. The tin size in the recipe is wrong - should be a 2lb loaf tin. Fortunately the baking paper seems to be holding the cake as it rises high above a 1lb tin.
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