Packed with lemon flavour, this moist lemon syrup cake has a lemon and almond sponge that is topped with zesty lemon drizzle to create an easy but elegant cake, perfect for afternoon tea, picnics and bake sales.
Drizzle cakes and cakes with syrups are a special cake without the need for icing or frosting, and are a beautiful cake to make from a variety of citrus fruits. From lime drizzle cake to chocolate orange drizzle cake and of course this classic lemon drizzle cake, they are always a crowd pleaser.
Why we love this recipe
- This easy lemon drizzle almond cake is soft and moist, with a lovely texture from using ground almonds / almond meal. If you are a fan of lemon and almonds, then please check out these Italian lemon almond cookies!
- Talking of the cake texture, adding ground almonds / almond meal helps stop the cake from drying out if over cooked. This is something I have discovered from experience when testing this cake recipe. I mistakingly set the timer for 15 minutes longer than the cake should have been in the oven for. The lemon cake came out slightly darker than I wanted, but the texture was not at all dry.
- A round lemon drizzle cake like this one means that more of the surface is open to that sticky zesty lemon syrup. Therefore you get more lemon drizzle with each bite than you would when eating a lemon drizzle loaf cake. This gives you a super moist lemon drizzle cake and more of that fresh lemon juice syrup.
- The simple lemon syrup drizzle is not the only way lemon flavour is added to the cake. Fresh lemon zest and lemon juice are used in the cake batter itself, meaning you get zesty lemon flavour in every bite. This, in my opinion, makes this recipe the best lemon drizzle cake recipe!
Ingredients notes and substitutions
- Plain flour – all purpose flour. I like to use plain flour rather than self raising flour in my cakes. However you can use self raising flour if you prefer, and reduce the amount of baking powder to 1 teaspoon.
- Ground almonds – also known as almond flour or almond meal – make sure you get the blanched almond meal for this recipe. Using ground almonds makes the sponge slightly denser than using all wheat flour. However they help make a moist cake and it really suits the drizzle topping.
- Butter – unsalted butter, use butter at room temperature to make it easier to beat with the sugar.
- Eggs – this lemon cake uses just 2 eggs.
- Lemons – fresh lemon zest and lemon juice are used in the cake and the lemon syrup.
- Sugar – I use granulated sugar or white sugar in both the cake batter and to make the lemon drizzle. I don’t notice much of a difference in this cake to warrant using caster sugar.
How to make this recipe
Please scroll down to the recipe at the bottom of the post for ingredient amounts and full, detailed recipe.
- Preheat the oven. Line a 20cm / 8 inch round cake tin with baking paper.
- In a medium to large mixing bowl whisk the butter, sugar and lemon zest together until light and fluffy.
- TIP: Beating the zest with the butter and sugar helps release the oils in the zest, creating a more flavourful cake.
- Add one of the eggs to the butter mixture and stir in.
- In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder and ground almonds / almond meal.
- Tip half of this in to the butter egg mixture and stir lightly.
- Add the other egg and mix.
- Tip in the rest of the flour mixture together with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and stir until just combined.
- TIP: If your lemons aren’t juicy and you don’t have 2 tablespoons of juice, top up the amount to 2 tablespoons with milk.
- Pour the batter in to the lined tin.
- Place in the preheated oven to bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in to the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, using this time to make the lemon syrup.
- To make the lemon syrup: combine sugar, lemon zest and juice in a small saucepan and place over a low to medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has melted.
- Using a skewer or a fork, prick small holes all over the top of the warm cooked cake. Spoon the warm lemon syrup over the cake, getting right to the edges.
- Leave in the tin for 5 minutes then remove the cake from the tin, peel off the baking paper and leave to cool completely on a metal cooling rack.
There are a number of reasons a lemon cake can sink, these are the most common: Check your baking powder is within date and don’t add too much – too much can cause a cake to sink in the middle. Place the cake in the oven as soon as it has been mixed and make sure you don’t open the oven door too soon, before the cake has set, as this can also cause it to sink.
As much as you want a lemon drizzle full of tangy syrup, don’t be tempted to make extra syrup as this can cause the cake to become soggy, as can underbaking it.
Pouring the syrup over the cake whilst it is still warm allows it to be more easily absorbed.
My recipe tips
- I like to use a 20cm / 8 inch round tin which makes quite a shallow cake but increases the surface for that tangy lemon syrup!
- Preheat the oven before you begin to mix the cake batter. If you place the cake in the oven when not preheated it can come out dense rather than soft and fluffy.
- Whisking the lemon zest with the butter and sugar helps release the oils and therefore release more flavour and have that zingy lemon flavour throughout the cake.
- Don’t overmix the cake batter once you have added the all of the flour and ground almonds.
- Take care not to boil the drizzle for too long. Otherwise you can end up with a chewy topping to your cake, which isn’t pleasant.
- This syrup cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4-5 days. If it is hot and humid when you make the cake then I recommend eating it within 3-4 days.
- Freezing the cake: you can freeze the cake (with the syrup). Wait until the cake is completely cold and then wrap well and freeze for up to 1 month. I’ve found after a month it can be tainted with onion smells from the freezer.
- This beautiful lemon syrup cake needs nothing more than a cup of tea, coffee or glass of water with it.
- Enjoy as a dessert with a spoonful of plain yogurt or scoop of vanilla ice cream and some fresh berries, or berry compote.
- You can make this recipe in to a lemon drizzle loaf cake: use a 21cm x 12cm (8″ x 5″) loaf tin and bake the cake for 40 minutes.
- Lemon and orange drizzle cake: use the zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange in the cake.
- Lime and lemon drizzle cake: use 1 lemon and 1 lime in the cake, and the juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime to make the syrup drizzle.
- Icing – instead of making a lemon syrup, make a lemon icing. Mix confectioners sugar / icing sugar with lemon juice and drizzle over the cake.
More easy baking recipes for you
Lemon Syrup Cake
- 20cm / 8 inch round baking tin
- 100g (3.5oz) butter, softened ($1.30 /£0.70p)
- 150g (⅓ c + ¼ c) granulated sugar / white sugar ($0.17/£0.10p)
- 100g (⅔ c) plain flour / all purpose flour ($0.12 /£0.05p)
- 50g (½ c) almond meal / ground almonds / almond flour ($0.79 /£0.42p)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder ($0.20 /£0.03p)
- pinch salt ($0.01 /£0.01p)
- 2 large eggs ($0.70 /£0.18p)
- 2 lemons, zested ($2.06 /£0.60p)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from approx 1 lemon) ($ – /£-)
- 1 lemon zested ($1.03 /£0.30p)
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice, (from 2 lemons) ($ – /£ – )
- 100g granulated sugar / white sugar ($0.11 /£0.07p)
- Preheat the oven to 160˚C fan / 180˚C / 320˚F convection / 356˚F.
- Line a 20cm / 8 inch round baking tin with baking paper.
- Beat the softened butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy.
- In another bowl mix the flour, ground almonds / almond meal / almond flour, baking powder and salt together.
- Add 1 egg to the butter sugar mixture and stir before adding half of the flour, then mix well.
- Add the other egg, the rest of the dry ingredients and lemon juice and mix to combine.
- Spoon into the lined baking tin, place in the preheated oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes whilst you make the lemon syrup.
- In a small saucepan mix the sugar with the lemon zest and lemon juice and place over a low heat.
- Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Don't let the syrup boil.
- Once the sugar has dissolved take the syrup off the heat.
- Prick the lemon cake all over with a skewer or fork then spoon the lemon syrup all over the top of the cake.
- Leave for 5 minutes in the tin then remove the cake from the tin, peel off the baking paper, and place on a metal cooling rack to cool completely.
- Store the cake at room temperature for 3-4 days.