Classic Lemon Drizzle Cake

lemon drizzle cake sliced

A tender, sticky sponge, drenched in tangy lemon syrup and drizzled in lemon icing. Moist, fresh and incredibly more-ish, this is a true British summertime classic. 

Lemon drizzle is a true classic of a cake.

It reminds me of British summer fêtes.

Picture a fête held on the village green. Little white tents line the outside of the grass. One such tent holds a tombolo, another a paddling pool with a hook-a-duck raffle. There’s probably a bric-a-brac stall, and maybe an old set of wooden stocks allowing you to throw water-soaked sponges at an innocent victim. There’s always a cake stall.  This is the sort of cake you’ll find in pride of place, next to the Victoria sponge, the butterfly cakes and the coffee and walnut sandwich. Sitting under bright bunting strewn around the top of the tent, shaded from the sun that, if you’re lucky, will occasionally pop out from behind the clouds.  It’s probably made from a family recipe, a secret recipe begged for but never shared.

This is a nostalgia evoking cake.

lemon drizzle collage

It’s the sort of cake many  feel a certain emotional ownership of, and with that ownership comes strong opinions. A quick search online for a recipe proved that lemon drizzle is a serious business. Getting that right level of stickiness, being citrus without being too sharp, it’s a minefield! Even Mary Berry’s lemon drizzle was getting mixed reviews. When Mary’s being questioned, you know the stakes are high!

 classic lemon drizzle cake

This is my version of the classic cake. The tight crumbed sponge is flavoured with both lemon zest and lemon juice, and is made with yoghurt instead of milk to keep it extra moist. A generous amount of lemon syrup is poured over the cake while it’s still warm. It’s this that gives the cake its wonderful stickiness, and a tangy citrus punch. The cake is finished off with the signature lemon icing, drizzled down the sides of the cake.

It’s a very satisfying loaf to make. It smells delicious baking in the oven, and its a true crowd pleaser. Everyone digs in with delight when a lemon drizzle is produced.

lemon drizzle cake

Do you have a special recipe for lemon drizzle cake? What would you say makes the perfect cake?

Classic Lemon Drizzle Cake


for the cake 

175g caster sugar

175g unsalted butter

zest 1 lemon

3 large eggs

175g plain flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

140g plain yoghurt

Juice 1/2 lemon

for the syrup 

juice 1 lemon

50g caster sugar

for the icing 

200g icing sugar, sifted

juice 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Grease and line a 1 lb loaf tin.

Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and creamy.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and the baking powder.

Beat in one egg, along with a tablespoon of flour. Beat until combined. Repeat with the other two eggs.

Fold in the remaining flour.

Fold in the yoghurt, followed by the lemon juice.

Pour the cake batter in the prepared tin.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until an insert skewer comes out clean.

As soon as you take the cake from the oven, prick all over with a cocktail stick, then make the syrup.

In a small pan, heat together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is melted.

Pour the syrup over the cake, while still in the tin.

Allow to cool completely, then remove from the tin.

Once completely cool, make the icing.

Mix the sifted icing sugar with the lemon juice. Mix into a thick, smooth icing. If you need to, add a splash more water. Take care, however, not to add too much water. If the icing is too runny it will flow completely off the cake.

Pour over the top of the cake, allowing the icing to drizzle over the edges.

Top with a few strips of lemon zest.

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  1. i love lemon drizzle but can never get my icing to set in this humidity! This looks lush!

  2. Yum yum, a good lemon drizzle cake is one of my favourites. I like to use the Lemon Polenta cake from Nigella’s Kitchen – it’s nice and dense and soaked in lemon syrup.

  3. I’ve made three of theses cakes in the last two weeks for various people and they are sooooooo good. Everyone who has tried has loved them. They are full of flavour and moist too (that’s the yoghurt methinks). Thanks for the recipe.

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