Best lemon cake ever

Well, IMHO anyway. I’ve been making this for years. And years. Originally tore it out of a magazine. It’s by Nigel Slater so that already tells you it’s going to be good but not overly fancy. I’m a big fan of Nigel’s writing and recipes – he does simplicity so beautifully. I’m not a cake decorator – my usual attempts tend to look somewhat messy, I haven’t really ever progressed past the fluffing up of buttercream with a fork and sprinkling over some decorations, so for me this is the perfect cake – plain looking but delicious nonetheless.

Lemon Drizzle Cake


200g butter
200g caster sugar
zest of two large or three small lemons
200g self raising flour
3 free range eggs

125g demerara sugar
juice of the lemons

Preheat oven to 180C/ 160C fan or GM4

Line a 20cm round tin ( I have also made this in a loaf tin but you will need to increase the cooking time by a further 15 minutes).

Cream together the butter & sugar till fluffy. Add the lemon zest and stir well. Add the eggs one at a time with a spoonful of the flour and then fold rest of the flour into the mixture.

Spoon into the cake tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, measure out the demerara sugar and add the lemon juice to dissolve the sugar. As soon as the cake is baked and removed from the oven, stab the cake all over with a fork and pour over the lemon & sugar mix. This will soak into the cake whilst it’s hot and form a lovely crust.

Leave cake to cool in the tin, then turn out and eat. Perfectly delicious plain, it’s also rather nice with a dollop of creme fraiche.

Variations on a theme:

This recipe also works well using a whole orange instead of the lemons. I also make a gluten free version, using 3 limes and adding in 3 large tablespoons of plain yogurt to counteract the more drying quality of the gluten free flour, and also adding 2 heaped tsp of gluten free baking powder. See also the alternative Christmas cake recipe posted on this site – using spices and clementines.

Do try it. It’s super easy and I’ve never known anyone not like it, yet!

Picture of lemon cake

Lemon Drizzle, not a looker but tastes fab!

An Alternative Christmas Cake

Not everyone likes fruit cake, that traditional stalwart of the Christmas afternoon tea. Or in my case, I love fruit cake but I’m not so keen on the rock hard icing and marzipan that usually accompanies it.  And, confession time, I didn’t manage to get my act together this year to make a Christmas cake in time for that slow maturation and booze feeding that makes it so delicious. So, with that in mind, I did a bit of experimenting this weekend and came up with a variation on my favourite Nigel Slater cake that ticks the boxes for Christmas flavours AND ease and speed of making.

Christmas Spiced Citrus Drizzle Cake


200g caster sugar

200g unsalted butter

3 eggs

zest of 2 tangerines, 1 orange and 1 lemon

200g self raising flour, sifted

knife point of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice

grating of nutmeg

125g demerara sugar

juice of 2 tangerines & 1 orange

Pre-heat oven to 175C. Grease and line a 22cm cake tin with baking paper.


Beat sugar, butter and citrus zests together until light and fluffy. Add spices to the sifted flour (by knife point, I mean literally a pinch of the spices – you want this to be subtle but feel free to change the quantites to suit your own taste) Add eggs, one at a time with a tbsp of the flour & spice mix and then fold in the rest of the flour. Make sure all well mixed in.

Shows cake mix going into tin

Cake mix into tin

Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth over the top. Place in oven to bake for 40 to 50 minutes – check with a skewer at 40 minutes.


Dissolve the demerara sugar into the citrus juices. Remove cake from oven and stab all over with a fork. Pour the sugar & juice mix over the hot cake, making sure to cover the whole cake.  Leave to cool and let the juice soak in. A lovely sugary crust will form on the top of the cake.

Sugar and tangerines

Cake topping


Remove cake from tin and decorate with sliced tangerines.


Picture of finished cake

Decorated cake, ready to eat!

Serve with cinnamon Chantilly cream – cream beaten with icing sugar, vanilla and a little cinnamon.

Keeps for 4 days if covered.