A vegan lemon cake loaf cut into slices

Vegan lemon cake

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(68 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 fruits…

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 fruits…


  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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26th Sep, 2018
The cake is absolutely lovely. Instead of the zest I juiced 1 and a half lemons to put in the cake and it was so moist. Lovely. I also swapped out the water for soya milk and that worked very well. The only thing that doesn't work is the icing. Every time I've gone by this recipe the icing has curdled and been unusable. I have no idea why so I just stick for the traditional lemon-granulated sugar topping which is much nicer.
25th Sep, 2018
Add more zest and juice for more flavour. I added the zest of one lemon to the icing as the cake itself wasn’t lemony enough. Next time I’ll also add more juice to the cake mixture in place of the water. I also didn’t line the tin which I will do next time - half stayed in the tin when I turned it out. Lovely cake otherwise - moist and the non-vegans loved it!
Tamara Hallett-Miller's picture
Tamara Hallett-...
25th Sep, 2018
I make this quite often, it’s a quick, easy and tasty cake. People can’t tell that it’s vegan so it absolutely stands up to non vegan lemon cakes. I tend to use an extra lemon for heating and half a lemon or so (depending on size) for juice. I also make it into a lemon drizzle 50:50 lemon and sugar heated in a pan into a syrup, poke holes all over the cake and pour it over when the cake is still warm.
17th Sep, 2018
Brilliant recipe. Super easy. Stands up to non-vegan bakes. I chose to add a teaspoon of vanilla essence to add a little more sweetness in the cake itself, following reading some of the reviews!
Nick Goult's picture
Nick Goult
29th Aug, 2018
This is an excellent cake recipe, everyone liked it. One of the best vegan cakes I have ever made!
Paul Blunden's picture
Paul Blunden
27th Aug, 2018
this is a very good recipe I loved it!
18th Jun, 2018
This recipe was useful for visiting vegans, they loved it. The texture was dense and it needed an extra 15 minutes on the time. It rose beautifully, the colour was a little pale but you couldn't see this once it was iced. Left overs were heated in the microwave for 20 seconds and served with cream for a very nice pudding. I used a 2 lb loaf tin with baking parchment liner. There's no way it would fit in a 1lb tin! The recipe says it serves 12, as the texture is dense you would only need a small piece really but 12 would be stretching it a bit!
30th May, 2018
I made individual small cakes which needed approx. 10 minutes baking time. Topped with wafer daisies, they looked really pretty and disappeared very quickly! Made 22 small cakes. The next batch I make i’ll freeze without icing, then defrost and ice before serving.
Roz Chan's picture
Roz Chan
12th May, 2018
Hmm, not to sure with this. I thought it too dense and flavourless. Of course it tasted lemony and I used 2 of them but could have also used a few drops of vanilla to make up for lack of butter flavour and egg richness...a miss for me! I cut a slice and threw the rest in the bin...
28th Apr, 2018
it was ok i guess, it was kinda flavorless. the glaze saved it, but maybe there should've been an egg replacement instead of the complete removal of them; the cake turned out very thicc and dense. it was fine i suppose but not the best. i'd rather eat an absolute walnut.


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!!
14th Sep, 2017
If you use coconut oil, what volume ( once it is liquid - or do you use it non liquid) thanks.


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.