I have wonderful memories of teatime over the years and many of them involve Lemon Drizzle Cake. Its sharp, fierce lemony flavour is the perfect foil to the comforting warmth of a hot, milky cup of tea.
Lemon Drizzle Cake is a delicious traditional British loaf cake. It’s often served at teatime or for a snack at any time of day. The loaf cake is tender sponge, usually flavoured with vanilla extract and lemon rind. After baking, the warm loaf is studded with tiny holes and hot lemon sugar syrup is poured over top. This makes the cake deliciously tangy and moist.
Lemon Drizzle cake is one of those classic treats that seems to have been around forever so trying to find out more about its history was not an easy task. In the end the best I was able to do was a little personal research, talking to as many people as I could about their memories of this popular cake. Most of the older folks I spoke had childhood memories of it being made by their own mothers or grandmothers, which leads me to believe it has been around at least since the Victorian era. Interestingly enough, I didn’t speak to anyone who didn’t like it!
This is such a popular cake there is no shortage of recipes available for it. The first version of Lemon Drizzle Cake I ever made was from Nigella Lawson’s book ‘How to Be A Domestic Goddess’. It’s still my favourite recipe, the one I always come back to. I’ve adapted it very slightly over the years but aside from changing the citrus fruit you are using there is little you can do to alter a lemon drizzle cake recipe. In fact, there is no reason Lemon Drizzle Cake could not be made with any citrus fruit, from oranges and limes to grapefruit, but funnily enough I have never heard of an Orange Drizzle Cake or Lime Drizzle Cake.
Lemon Drizzle Cake really is the work of moments to put together. It takes time to bake to golden perfection but you don’t have to do much during that time aside from keeping a bit of an eye on it. Of course the better the ingredients you use, the better the cake will taste. I always use fresh, unsalted butter, free range or pasture raised eggs and fresh, juicy un-waxed lemons.
Simply stirred together on the stove top, the syrup is quick and easy to make as well. The key with the syrup is to be sure that you poke holes in the warm cake – I use a skewer or piece of spaghetti to accomplish this – and pour the syrup slowly over top, allowing it to absorb before continuing. It may seem like a lot of liquid, but be sure to use all the syrup. It is what gives the cake its characteristic moist texture and fabulous flavour.
- 125 grams unsalted butter
- 175 grams golden granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- zest of 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 175 grams self-raising flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons milk
- For the syrup:
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons Limoncello
- 100 grams confectioner’s (icing) sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C or 170°C for a fan oven).
- Grease and flour or line a 2 lb loaf tin.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
- Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla.
- Fold the flour and salt into the batter with a wooden spoon.
- Stir in the milk.
- Spoon into the prepared loaf tin and bake for about 45 minutes.
- The cake should be golden and risen in the middle and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake should come out clean.
- Remove the pan from the oven but leave the cake in the cake tin.
- Make the syrup by stirring the lemon juice. Limoncello and sugar together in a small saucepan and heating gently until the sugar dissolves.
- Make small holes in the cake with a skewer, cake tester or dry piece of spaghetti.
- Pour the syrup slowly over top, allowing it to soak in before adding the rest. Be sure to cover the whole cake, including the middle and edges.
- Let the cake cool completely in the tin before attempting to remove it.
Slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson's Lemon Syrup Loaf Cake
If you are looking for a vegan or gluten free version of this wonderful cake, check out the beautiful Lemon Drizzle Cake developed by Vicky of Gluten Free SCD and Veggie.
If you like this recipe you may also enjoy Nigella Lawson’s Madeira Cake.
Shared with Treasure Box Tuesday