This zesty lemon cake is packed with fresh, citrusy flavours and will make a perfect treat to any party! Soft, airy sponge topped with lemony icing and candied lemon peel.
Happy new week! With temperatures warming up nicely, extended daylight, new season of Game of Thrones and Easter holidays, I feel like there is A LOT to celebrate! And what a better way to do it, than with irresistible cake?!?
Easy zesty lemon cake
I have come across this recipe in the latest issue of BBC Good Food Magazine, and immediately fell in love with it! It just screams Spring, and it's so perfectly suited for this time of the year! What's really great about it is how easy and simple it is to make. Again, just like with my Carrot Cake, no need for any fancy equipment or ingredients. Just few simple pantry staples and some fresh lemons. It's ALL about these beautiful, fresh zesty lemons!!!
What do I need to make zesty lemon cake?
Obviously LEMONS! I'm using these beautiful Italian Sorrento lemons, which I'm completely obsessed with. If you can get your hands on these beauties, then I strongly recommend using them. They are much more fragrant and particularity juicy, in comparison with common lemons. Their taste and smell is so much much stronger and more citrusy, I promise you gonna love them too!
Other than gorgeous lemons, the basic ingredients needed to make this fantastic cake include: unsalted butter, golden caster sugar, eggs, Greek yogurt, baking powder and self-raising flour. Icing is very traditional, made with icing sugar and lemon juice. Last but not least, candied lemon peel is used to finish it off and to decorate the cake with.
That last ingredient, candied lemon peel, is totally optional, but once again, I STRONGLY recommend sticking to it. It adds even more glorious citrus flavour to the cake, taking it to the next level! It is made by simply peeling the lemon skin and cutting it into a very thin matchsticks, then simmering it in a sugar syrup. Totally wort that extra effort!!!
How to make zesty lemon cake?
Before you start making the cake, make sure that all of the ingredients are at the room temperature. It's very important, otherwise they will not mix well and you will end up wit lumpy batter and unsuccessful bake.
Start with greasing an 18cm loose-bottom cake tin with some butter. Line the bottom of it with baking parchment, to ensure the cake doesn't get stuck to it. Preheat the oven to 170 C (150C for fan assisted ovens).
Add softened, unsalted butter into the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat it together with golden caster sugar, until pale and fluffy. Next, start adding the eggs, one at the time, beating well after each egg. Don't worry if the mixture splits just a bit, it should even out at the next stage.
After you've added lemon zest, gently fold in the flour, baking powder and salt. Finish off with folding the Greek yogurt. I recommend using a wooden spoon or spatula for folding the flour and yogurt. Once again, it's important not to over-mix the ingredients. Remember- mixing the batter 'until just combined' means that you should stop mixing as soon as you can't see the ingredient that you just added!
Spoon the mixture into prepared baking tin and bake it for 50-55 minutes or until the top is golden brown and firm to the touch. Allow the cake to cool completely before decorating it.
Finishing touches- the icing on the cake
When you are ready to decorate the cake, beat the icing sugar with enough lemon juice to create thick icing. It shouldn't be too runny, but runny enough to drip of the spoon. I've ended up adding about 4 tablespoon of lemon juice to mine, but this amount may vary for different types of icing sugar. It is always better to add tiny amounts of lemon juice, gradually, because sometimes just few drops can make it or break it.
Transfer the icing into a small jug and pour it into the middle of the cake. It should naturally start spilling and covering the whole surface, but you may want to help it a bit by lifting the cake and tilting it slightly backwards, forwards and to the sides to create an even coverage. Allow the icing to drip on sides a bit, it adds an extra 'wow factor' into the cake!
Zesty lemon cake- what can go wrong?
Although this is a very easy recipe, there is a couple of things to be aware of. As mentioned before, it is really important that the ingredients are at room temperature. Make sure to take your butter, eggs and yogurt out of the fridge prior to making the cake. Allow them to come to the room temperature, which should take about 15- 20 minutes.
If the cake has risen and split/ cracked on top, simply level it with serrated knife. That is exactly what I did with mine. Cut off the 'dome', flip the cake upside down and pour the icing over it. Nobody will ever know!
As always, thanks for reading today's post! I also want to wish you a great Easter holidays, filled with lots of chocolate and cake! I will be taking a small break over this time, so no new post next Monday! Regular business will resume from 29th of April...
Zesty Lemon Cake
- 175 g unsalted butter (softened)
- 175 g golden caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large unwaxed lemons (zested, plus additional 4-5 tablespoon juice)
- 250 g self-raising flour (see recipe notes)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 100 g Greek yogurt
- 400 g icing sugar
For the candied lemon peel:
- 2 large lemons (peel only)
- 200 g granulated sugar
- 200 ml water
- Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan). Grease a deep, loose-bottomed 18cm cake tin and line the base of it with baking parchment.
- Beat the butter and caster sugar together with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at the time, beating well after each addition, then stir in the lemon zest. Fold in the 250g of flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon of salt and 100g Greek yogurt. Mix until the ingredients are JUST combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the centre of the oven for 50-55 minutes, until golden brown on top and firm to the touch. Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack completely.
For the icing:
- Sieve 400g of icing sugar into a bowl and beat in enough of the lemon juice to create a thick icing. Set the cake on a cake stand or a plate and spoon over the icing, allowing it to drip down the sides a little.
For candied lemon peel:
- Peel large, wide strips from 2 large lemons using a vegetable peeler. Remove any white pith with a sharp knife, then julienne the peel into very thin matchsticks. In a small saucepan, add the granulated sugar and water and set it over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon peel and simmer gently for 15 minutes then scoop the peel with slotted spoon and set on a paper towel to cool. Use to decorate the cake with it.
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- To substitute self-raising flour, you can instead add 2 teaspoons of baking powder to each cup (150g) of all-purpose (plain flour)
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