A vegan lemon cake loaf cut into slices

Vegan lemon cake

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(179 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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2nd Jul, 2020
This is my go to cake for parties I’m invited to ! So easy to make. Just be careful to get exact ingredients . I left out some water and it crumbled. Yes it says 100g water - just not in the ingredient list !
Anthony De Cremiers's picture
Anthony De Cremiers
19th May, 2020
If you really like lemon cake (like me) I would recommend this tasty cake
milestwist's picture
13th May, 2020
Delicious lemon cake - very easy to do. Similar to others, I added more lemon juice and zest (2 lemons instead of 1). Baking time needed 40-45 mins at 200 degrees celcius!
29th Apr, 2020
Love this recipe, easy and really lemony, I always add more. Went down a treat with my 2 vegan daughters and my husband , not even veggie.
16th Apr, 2020
Really pleased with this cake. I did sub some of the water for lemon juice also. I think 100ml of water and the rest lemon juice. Loved the ease of the ingredients combining because rubbing butter and sugar together is the step I hate in a standard bake. Does need longer in the oven, I did around 40-45 mins at 200.
15th Apr, 2020
I absolutely love this recipe and have used it countless times. It is very easy and makes a beautiful light lemon sponge. I have also found it to be very adaptable. I've made a lemon and thyme version, an orange version (adding orange flavouring and zest), a ginger version (reducing the sugar and substituting dark muscovado for half of it, and adding ground ginger) and most recently a cherry and almond version (reducing the sugar to account for the glace cherries which I chopped up very finely, and substituting 1/4 flour for ground almonds). The key (in my experience, I'm not a food scientist) is to make sure you don't mess around with the lemon, oil, water and baking powder proportions. I rarely bother with the icing as the cake is quite sweet enough for me without it.
zozo alabady's picture
zozo alabady
14th Apr, 2020
THE WORST CAKE EVER the texture was bad and it test awful
ms dave's picture
ms dave
9th Apr, 2020
By double boiling. Heat up a pot of water over a high flame, once it started boiling, lower down to low flame and put the mixing bowl with cream cheese over it. Then stir over it for a min, remove from the pot and continue stirring. If the cheese stip melting, put it back over the pot to get the heat. Repeat until cheese melts. printer spooler service not running windows 10
Vegan mummy
8th Apr, 2020
If you use the icing sugar this is then not a vegan cake, as shop bought icing sugar is actually made from dried egg whites.
9th Apr, 2020
Not all icing sugar has egg whites in it


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!!


2nd Jul, 2020
I'd recommend using a 2lb loaf tin rather than 1lb. Also 2 lemons rather than 1 as missrosewilde said.
2nd Jun, 2020
This is a great recipe that can be easily adapted. I've made it many times with different citruses. This week I used an orange instead of a lemon, added 2 heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder, 100g caster sugar, 50g soft brown sugar and 50g dark brown sugar. Baked for 45 mins - a perfect chocolate loaf cake.
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


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