A vegan lemon cake loaf cut into slices

Vegan lemon cake

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(82 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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17th Mar, 2019
A really lovely, light lemony cake. I doubled the ingredients and made two. They rose beautifully in the oven, although I did cook them for longer than the recommended time. Both cakes were eaten as soon as they were cool. I would definitely make again.
A Shah's picture
A Shah
11th Feb, 2019
I just tried this cake over the weekend. Mixture was lovely but cake did not rise.. I am disappointed. Checked all ingredients and quantity..am I missing something? Also cake tasted like lemon marmalade.
Carolyn Morris's picture
Carolyn Morris
28th Dec, 2018
Super easy recipe - we all enjoyed it. Light and fluffy. Now I know the recipe works it will be easy to adapt it - next time will do a drizzle topping. Will be definitely making it again. It does need an extra 10 -15 minutes in the oven.
Krys Jade's picture
Krys Jade
8th Dec, 2018
Delicious, soft, lemony and light! However, I would definitely agree you should add 15 mins to the baking time and be careful when cutting as it's not the most sturdy cake.
Montana Rose's picture
Montana Rose
3rd Dec, 2018
Lovely lemon cake, very quick to make, I added more lemon juice to the icing than suggested
23rd Nov, 2018
There’s an ingredient missing from this recipe, there’s not nearly enough wet ingrdients, I made the mix and it was a sandy mess, double checked I’d used the right amount and still the same problem
Kathryn Pugh's picture
Kathryn Pugh
28th Feb, 2019
I made the same mistake - in the method it tells you to add water to the mix but it isn't in the ingredients list
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.


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.


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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