In my baking world, nothing spells Spring more than a lemon cake. And when it comes to lemon cakes, few top the rustic charm of the British Lemon Drizzle Cake. I baked a Lemon Drizzle Cranberry Bundt Cake for Christmas, but cheated by using oil instead of butter. This time around, I wanted to make amends and stick to an authentic drizzle cake. This butter cake has a lemony crust of sugar and moistness from the lemon drizzle that is hard to beat.
I tried a couple different versions this Spring, each notable for different reasons. For this version, I tried the all-in-one-method. This means dumping all the ingredients into the bowl at once, mixing it, and hoping for the best. I couldn’t bring myself to just having one step in the process, so I added in a couple of prep steps!
One prep step you shouldn’t skip is to line a loaf pan with parchment paper. I buttered the loaf pan first so that the parchment paper stuck to it. No, you don’t mix the ingredients right in the pan!
I combined the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. This included self-raising flour, baking powder, and sugar. The self-raising flour already has some salt, so I didn’t add any extra salt.
I zested one lemon. It was a large lemon, so lots of zest–probably 2 tablespoons. The more zest, the more lemony the cake tastes. I saved the lemon for later to make the drizzle.
With a fork, I lightly beat 2 eggs in a small bowl. I thought to do that ahead of time because if the eggs are left whole when mixed with the rest of the ingredients, there will be a tendency to over-mix the batter in order to get those eggs broken up and incorporated. Why not just break them up ahead of time?
I also thought to whip the butter a little using an electric mixer before adding all the other ingredients to the bowl so that there won’t be lumps of butter in the batter. After the butter was whipped, I then dumped in the rest of the ingredients I previously mentioned, along with some milk.
So after mixing a bit on low-speed, this is how the batter looked.
I mixed the batter just a little bit more until I didn’t see dry flour floating around and until the batter was pretty smooth.
I dolloped the batter into the loaf pan and smoothed it out to the best of my ability. Since the batter was sticky and so thick, that was tough! Don’t wait to put the loaf into the oven. The baking powder starts to work right away after mixing it into the wet ingredients, so if you wait too long, the cake will not rise as it should and may dip a little in the center after it’s done baking. I’ve found that this cake has a tendency to do that (at least when I try to bake it!).
Into the oven the pan went. The baking period was about 35 minutes. Just before I took the cake out of the oven, I prepared the lemon/sugar drizzle. The drizzle is simply the juice of one large lemon mixed into sugar. Surprise, surprise–this glaze does not use confectioners sugar. Yes, you have to use regular, grainy, granulated sugar. Using granulated sugar is key to getting a crust of sugar on the cake, so please don’t resort to confectioners sugar for the glaze.
The drizzle was runny and very grainy, but that’s the way it should be.
When the loaf was fully baked–I used a bamboo skewer to test for doneness, a beautifully golden loaf cake emerged from the oven.
Then it was time to take that bamboo skewer I used before to poke deep holes all over the cake.
I spooned about a 1/3 of the lemon/sugar mixture over the cake so that it seeped into the holes.
I waited a few minutes before spooning over another 1/3 of the lemon/sugar drizzle. After waiting a couple of minutes again, I spooned the remaining drizzle over the cake. I then let the cake cool completely while still in the pan. Pouring over the drizzle in batches helps ensure that the cake forms a nice sugar crust. I removed the cake from the pan and sliced it for serving.
The lemon drizzle cake is a super lemony traditional British cake that is great to have on hand for informal occasions (including your afternoon coffee/tea break!). Dress it up with some fresh berries on the side and a dollop of whipped cream for a refreshing, elegant dessert.