Vegan Gluten-Free Lemon Drizzle Cake
This vegan gluten-free lemon drizzle cake is moist, flavourful and super easy to make. It’s topped with a lemon-sugar drizzle and a thin layer of zesty icing. It can be made in under an hour and is great for a mid-morning treat or sharing with friends.
The next addition to my lemon cake series is this gluten-free lemon drizzle cake.
I haven’t dabbled very much in gluten-free baking since I started my blog but I want to change that. I attempted to create a few gluten-free cake recipes back in the day but they ended up being very dry and crumbly. And at the time, I didn’t have the knowledge to figure out what was going wrong, nor did I have the patience to actually find out!
But after a little trial and error here and there over the years, I’m coming at you with my first gluten-free cake recipe! I can’t say I’m an expert gluten-free cake baker by any means but one successful recipe is a good start!
Since my lemon-drizzle sheet cake is the most popular recipe on my blog so far, I figured it would be a good idea to remake that one but make it gluten-free, seeing as people clearly love it!
I did have to make it a few times to get it just right but it was quite a straight forward swap. I simply used gluten-free self-raising flour instead of the regular kind, and adjusted the dry to liquid ratio ever so slightly.
When it comes to gluten-free cake and baking, there are many types of flours people use. Almond, gram flour, oat, buckwheat and rice flour are just a few that come to mind. However, for this recipe I recommend using a self-raising blend.
You’ll need to use a blend that contains xanthan gum. This is what will help everything bind together, preventing a dry and crumbly cake. If your blend doesn’t contain xanthan gum, you can purchase it separately from most supermarkets (in the free-from aisle) and add 1/2 a teaspoon to the recipe.
I used Asda’s self-raising blend self-raising blend which contains xanthan gum already. If you can, I’d recommend using this one for best results as this is what the recipe has been tested with.
How to make vegan gluten-free lemon drizzle cake
Before you begin, you’ll need to preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. If you’re using a fan or convection oven, you’ll need to set it a little lower at 160°C/325°F.
Grease or line an 8×10-inch tin with baking paper. It’s best to leave a little baking paper hanging over the edges to make it easier to remove the cake when it’s cool.
Next, it’s time to prepare your vegan “buttermilk”. This will help to keep the cake nice and moist while also helping it to rise properly.
In a small mug or bowl, mix 250ml of unsweetened soy milk with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Set it aside for a few minutes to thicken (this will be very slight) then give it another mix.
In a large bowl, mix together 200g of caster sugar and 200g of vegan margarine until smooth. For best results, I recommend using the spreadable kind of vegan margarine rather than the block type of vegan “butter”. The water content is different and may alter the final result.
Add 300g of gluten-free self-raising flour to the bowl, along with 1/2 a teaspoon of xanthan gum, 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and the vegan buttermilk that you made earlier. Add the buttermilk in a little bit at a time, mixing as you go, so that the mixture doesn’t curdle.
Mix everything together well until you have a smooth cake batter. Make sure that you get any of the dry mixture that may be stuck at the bottom of the bowl.
Now stir the zest of 1 lemon into the cake batter.
Transfer the cake batter into your lined tin and use the back of your spoon to smooth it out evenly.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. You can test if it’s done by inserting a toothpick through the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If it has a little cake batter on it, pop it back into the oven in 5-minute increments until it comes out clean.
Mix together 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of caster sugar. Pour this mixture over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. It will absorb into the cake quite quickly and will be a little hard to spread around so try to pour it on evenly.
Let the cake cool in the tin for around 20 minutes, or until the sugar mixture on top has fully dried, then flip it out onto a wire rack. It will be quite fragile so be careful!
Remove the baking paper from the bottom of the cake and let it cool completely.
When the cake has cooled, it’s time to add the icing.
Mix together 130g of icing sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. If you don’t want a super strong lemon flavour, you can use water instead for this part.
Spread a thin layer of icing over the cooled cake and decorate with a sprinkling of lemon zest. Let the cake sit at room temperature until the icing is hard, then cut into square slices and enjoy!
I highly recommend using fresh lemon juice if possible as it will give the strongest and most authentic flavour. Bottled lemon juice can tend to taste a little bland sometimes, especially if it goes into something that’s being baked.
If you don’t want to or can’t use soy milk, feel free to substitute it for equal amounts of another plant-based milk such as almond. I recommend using an unsweetened one if possible.
Yes, just like my lemon drizzle loaf, this cake can be baked in a 2lb loaf tin at the same temperature for an extra 15-20 minutes. The same rules apply- you’ll know it’s ready when a toothpick or knife through the centre comes out clean.
If stored in an airtight container and kept in a cool, dry place such as a kitchen cupboard, this cake will last for up to 5 days.
Yes! You can freeze this cake in airtight containers for up to 2 months, with or without the icing. Alternatively, you can freeze the whole cake or individual slices on a baking tray first. After it’s frozen, just wrap tightly in tin foil or plastic wrap and pop back into the freezer.
When you’re ready to defrost the cake, unbox/unwrap it then transfer it to a wire rack or plate. Let it sit at room temperature until completely thawed, then store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature. Do not refreeze.
More gluten-free vegan desserts:
I hope you like this recipe! If you make it at home yourself, please let me know how it goes by leaving a rating and/or comment below. Happy baking! xo
Vegan Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Cake
Moist lemon drizzle sheet cake without eggs, dairy or gluten.
- 250 ml Soy milk (1 cup)
- 2 Teaspoons Lemon juice
- 200 g Caster sugar (1 cup)
- 200 g Vegan margarine (¾ cup + 2 tablespoons)
- 300 g Gluten-free self-raising flour blend (~2+¼ cups)
- ½ Teaspoon Xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend already has this)
- ½ Teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda
- Zest of 1 Lemon
For the lemon sugar drizzle:
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons Caster sugar
For the icing:
- 130 g Icing sugar (1 cup)
- 2 Tablespoons Lemon juice (or water, depending on how lemony you want the cake to be)
- Extra Lemon zest for decoration (optional)
Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F (or 160°C/325°F if you're using a fan or convection oven). Line an 8×10-inch tin with baking paper.
Mix the soy milk and lemon juice together and set aside. This will act as your vegan buttermilk.
In a large bowl, cream the margarine and sugar together.
Add the flour, xanthan gum and the bicarbonate of soda. Then add the buttermilk from earlier, mixing it in a little bit at a time. Once you have a smooth cake batter, stir in the lemon zest.
Transfer the batter into your lined cake tin and spread it out evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick through the centre comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, mix together the lemon juice and sugar for the drizzle. Pour and quickly spread it over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Let the cake cool in the tin for around 20 minutes or until the drizzle on top has dried. Very carefully flip it out onto a wire rack, remove the baking paper and leave it to cool completely.
Mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice and spread a thin layer of the icing onto the cooled cake. Top with extra lemon zest.
Let the cake sit at room temperature until the icing has set, then cut into square slices and enjoy.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.