The image shows Lemon Loaf cake served in a plate with lemon.

Lemon Loaf Cake Recipe (Better Than Starbucks)

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This Lemon Loaf Cake is incredibly moist and packed with citrus flavors. To start we drench a baked lemon loaf in a lemon syrup and finish it off with a luscious lemon icing!

If you’re a fan of Starbucks lemon loaf you’ll absolutely love this version. It’s cost effective saves you a trip, to the store and is quick to put.. You get a loaf instead of just one slice!

The taste? It surpasses anything store bought. It’s perfectly moist without being soggy striking the balance, between tanginess and sweetness. With its natural lemon essence coming through it’s truly exceptional. This loaf makes for a summer breakfast that you can easily prepare in advance!

What is Lemon Loaf Cake?

Lemon loaf cake? Yum! It’s a tasty cake with a lemony zing. Super moist and dense, like pound cake. The batter has flour, sugar, eggs, butter (or oil), baking powder, and lemon zest or juice for that citrus kick. Sometimes a lemon glaze tops it off for extra sweetness and tanginess. Perfect for dessert or a sweet snack with tea or coffee.

If you’re a fan of Starbucks’ Lemon Loaf, you’ll love this homemade version. It’s a delicious, ultra-moist lemon cake made from scratch. One of my go-to afternoon or breakfast treats. Gets raves every time – it disappears in minutes! Seriously, everyone goes crazy for this lemony goodness.

Why You’ll Love This Lemon Loaf Cake Recipe?

I think a delicious lemon loaf cake should possess four qualities and this recipe meets all those criteria:

  • You get that unmistakable lemon taste without it being too overwhelming. It strikes the perfect harmony between tangy lemon freshness and just the right amount of sweetness from the sugar.
  • The cake has a texture that melts in your mouth. It stays tender and moist for days after baking, getting more delicious, with time unlike other cakes that dry out.
  • In terms of looks this loaf cake is truly stunning! It has the height forming a dome with a crack down the middle and sports a gorgeous light golden crust all over. And thats even before you add the irresistible lemon icing!
  • As, for the recipe there’s no need to worry about it. It’s simple. Uses ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen pantry.

Overview: Lemon Loaf Cake Recipe

This recipe for lemon loaf cake is a treat filled with the taste of citrus. To begin preheat your oven. Prepare a loaf tin by lining it with baking paper. Next combine your ingredients such as flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in one bowl. In another bowl mix milk with lemon juice.

In a bowl blend together butter, vegetable oil, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Gradually add eggs one by one. Alternate adding the ingredients and the milk/lemon juice mixture to the butter mixture without overmixing. Pour the batter into the tin and bake until a skewer comes out clean.

While the cake is, in the oven create a lemon syrup by heating sugar and lemon juice until dissolved. Once the cake is baked and slightly cooled remove it from the tin. Generously coat it with the lemon syrup. Allow the cake to cool completely. Lastly prepare a lemon glaze by combining icing sugar with lemon juice until thickened; spread it over the cooled cake. To add a burst of flavor and visual appeal sprinkle some lemon zest on top.

Lemon Loaf Cake Recipe

Equipment

This image shows equipments needed for making the Lemon Loaf cake.
  • Oven (with fan function, if available).
  • 8.5×4.5-inch loaf tin.
  • Mixing bowls (small and large).
  • Sifter.
  • Whisk or fork.
  • Spatula.
  • Mixer (optional, for creaming butter and sugar).
  • Small saucepan.
  • Tray (for cooling the loaf).
  • Butter knife or skewer (for testing doneness).
  • Small bowl (for making lemon glaze).
Ingredients
Here are all the ingredients that you need to make Lemon Loaf Cake:
Lemon Loaf
  • 1¾ cups (210 g) all-purpose flour.
  • 2 tablespoons (14 g) cornstarch (also known as cornflour in some countries).
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder.
  • ½ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter).
  • ½ cup (120 g) warm full-fat milk.
  • 3 tablespoons (42 g) freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.
  • 2 tablespoons (26 g) unflavored vegetable oil (such as canola oil).
  • 1 cup (200 g) white granulated sugar.
  • 1½ tablespoons lemon zest (about the zest of 1 and 1/2 medium-sized lemons).
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature.
Lemon Syrup
  • ¼ cup (50 g) white granulated sugar.
  • ¼ cup (55 g) freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Lemon Glaze
  • 1 cup (125 g) icing sugar (also known as powdered or confectioners sugar).
  • 1½ tablespoons (21 g) freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest for decorating the top (OPTIONAL).

Instructions

This lemon cake loaf consists of three components, all of which’re incredibly simple to prepare (I assure you!).

Making of Lemon Loaf Cake
Preparation

Begin by baking the lemon loaf followed by a lemon syrup that is generously brushed over the loaf once its baked (its essential, for enhancing the flavor and texture!). To top it off a delightful lemon glaze is added.

Preparing the Oven and Loaf Pan

To make the lemon loaf start by preheating your oven to 160°C (320°F) with the fan running and lining an 8.5×4.5 inch loaf pan (I prefer greasing the pan before lining it to help the parchment paper better).

Adjustment for Different Pan Sizes

If your loaf pan is slightly smaller, than mine you may have batter. In that case any leftover batter can be used to bake some muffins.

Mixing Dry Ingredients

In a bowl sift together flour, cornstarch baking powder and salt. Mix well using a whisk or fork until thoroughly combined. Set aside for now.

This image shows mixing of dry ingredients needed for making lemon loaf cake in a bowl with whisk.
Preparing Milk and Lemon Juice Mixture

Next mix milk and lemon juice in a bowl ensuring they are well combined, before setting it aside. The mixture will begin to curdle a process.

This image shows the process of mixing milk and lemon juice in a bowl for making this lemon loaf cake.
Creaming Butter, Oil, Sugar, and Zest

In a bowl cream together butter, vegetable oil, sugar and lemon zest, for 2 minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.

This image shows the prcoess of mixing lemon zest, butter, vegetable oil and sugar in a bowl with the help of a whisk.
Incorporating Eggs

Next gently incorporate one egg at a time into the mixture ensuring mixing, after each addition.

Adding Milk and Lemon Juice Mixture

After that add half of the prepared milk and lemon juice blend to the mixture and stir until blended. Remove any remaining batter from the mixer attachment. Set it aside for mixing later.

Folding Dry Ingredients

Now add half of the ingredients you prepared earlier to the mixture and fold gently with a spatula until just incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and lemon juice mixture fold it until just combined. Finally add the remaining ingredients. Fold gently until just combined. Be careful not, to overmix.

Baking the Lemon Loaf

Pour the batter into a loaf tin spread it out evenly then bake for an hour or until a skewer or butter knife comes out clean.

Cooling the Loaf and Preparing Lemon Syrup

Once baked let it cool in the loaf tin for 15 minutes while you prepare the lemon syrup on the side.

This image shows cooked lemon loaf cake resting in loaf tin.
Preparing Lemon Syrup

In a saucepan mix together the sugar and lemon juice. Heat it gently until the sugar dissolves completely. Once ready remove it from the heat.

This image shows lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan for making the lemon syrup.
Coating the Lemon Loaf with Syrup

After waiting for 15 minutes carefully remove the lemon loaf from the baking tin. Transfer it onto a tray. Pour the lemon syrup over the cake making sure to cover the bottom part. Handle the loaf with care to prevent any breakage.

Allowing the Loaf to Cool and Preparing Lemon Glaze

Once the lemon loaf is completely coated in the syrup, let it cool down completely. While it’s cooling, you can get started on making the lemon glaze.

Making Lemon Glaze

In a bowl mix together the sugar and lemon juice until it forms a thick glaze.

Applying Lemon Glaze to the Loaf

After the lemon loaf has cooled down, spread the lemon glaze on top. Sprinkle some lemon zest for an optional decorative touch.

This image shows Lemon Loaf cake served on a wooden tray with lemon glaze spreaded on top with a few lemons nearby for decoration.

Video

Disclosure: This video isn’t mine – I included it to give you a visual of the whole cake pop-making process. Creating my own tutorial video is something I’d love to do down the road when I have a bigger budget.

Recipe Notes

  • I use an oven with the fan function (convection mode). The fan cooks baked goods faster. If your oven doesn’t have a fan option, increase the temperature to 347°F (175°C) to match my baking rate.
  • Gently folding in the ingredients prevents too much gluten formation, resulting in a softer cake. Only mix until the flour is incorporated and the batter is uniform.
  • If the glaze is too watery, add more icing sugar. If it’s too thick to spread, add more lemon juice. You can adjust the ingredient quantities for your desired glaze thickness or sweetness.
  • If your loaf tin is smaller than mine, you may have extra batter. Use any leftover batter to make muffins.
Calories378kcal
Carbohydrates61g
Cholesterol96mg
Fat20g
Fiber1g
Protein5g
Sodium212mg
Sugars27g

Pro Tips for Nailing This Recipe

  • Use a bundt pan for a prettier look, but grease it well so the cake doesn’t stick.
  • Don’t skip the lemon zest – it gives the cake its amazing lemon flavor. Use organic lemons and a good grater.
  • Fresh lemon juice tastes way better than bottled, so squeeze it fresh.
  • For the glaze, start with 1 tbsp each of lemon juice and milk. Add more liquid if needed, but keep it thick, not runny.
  • If you plan to eat it later, freeze it without the glaze.
  • The glaze is super easy to make fresh when you’re ready to enjoy the cake.

A Few Tips from Some Home Bakers for Lemon Loaf Cake

Christopher Stanton suggests making lemon loaf more lemony by creating an oleoresin from lemon peelings. First, carefully peel the lemons, ensuring no white pith is included. Cut the peelings into thin ribbons. Next, place the required amount of sugar in a bag with the lemon peelings, shake to coat, and let it rest overnight.

The sugar’s hydrophilic nature draws out liquids from the peels, including citrus oils rich in lemon flavor. Use this sugar-coated lemon zest in your lemon loaf recipe the next day for a significantly enhanced lemon flavor without needing extra lemon juice, which could affect baking.

When preparing the batter, include half a cup of poppy seeds. Once the cake is baked and cooled for a bit, brush it with a glaze made from powdered sugar. This simple tweak results in an outstanding flavor that our customers absolutely loved.

It might be a good idea to check the expiration date of the baking powder you used. The cake seems to be too wet or greasy, which could be because of this. The proportions of ingredients you used are similar to those in some pound cakes. To make the texture lighter, try using cake flour instead.

How to Store? (Keeping Your Lemon Loaf Cake Fresh)

How to Keep it Fresh?

  • For up to 5 days, store the whole cake or sliced pieces in an airtight container at room temperature.

How to Freeze It?

  • Let the cake cool completely.
  • Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  • Then, put it in a freezer-friendly bag or container.
  • It’ll stay fresh in the freezer for up to 2 months.
  • You can freeze it with or without the glaze.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lemon Loaf Cake

Is There Any Substitute for Eggs to Make the Lemon Loaf Cake?

While eggs are crucial for giving the batter its airy texture when whisked, you can try flax-seed eggs if you really need to. Just don’t whisk them as long, only until mixed.

Can I Skip the Lemon Extract?

It’s best not to, as it adds that strong lemony kick. But if you’re out, just add more lemon zest.

Why Did My Lemon Loaf Cake Collapse?

If your lemon loaf has collapsed, it might be because your baking powder is past its prime or you’ve been peeking in the oven too much. Also, ensure you’re following the recipe closely and baking it at the right time; underbaking can lead to sinking in the middle.

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