Lemon Cake Smackdown | 3 Tried & Tested Lemony Cake Recipes

Last month I baked pretty much only lemon cakes. I had been wanting to try Nigella Lawson’s lemon-syrup loaf cake from How To Be A Domestic Goddess for a while, and when the World Baking Day challenge finally gave me a chance to try a lemony cake. But I didn’t stop with that.

I tried 3 different kinds in total.

First, Carmela’s lemon loaf cake with syrup poured over.


Second, a loaf cake spiked with vanilla bean and lime zest.

Love the peek-a-boo bits of vanilla bean :)

Love the peek-a-boo bits of vanilla bean ūüôā

And third, Donna Hay’s lemon yogurt cake.

Dense and pale lemony yellow!

Dense and pale lemony yellow!

I baked Carmela’s lemon loaf ¬†cake with syrup twice more; once when we had company and another time to send to family. Even though it does take more effort (you need to melt the butter and allow it to cool; then while the cake is baking you need to make the lemony sugar syrup,) it is worth it because the syrup ensures that the cake stays moist for longer. And once that lemon syrup gets into the cake, you get this really delicious sticky-crumbly crumb.

Donna Hay’s lemon-yogurt cake I did not attempt again; even though it is the simplest of the three, being a one-bowl affair. It’s tasty, no doubt- but ¬†since it uses vegetable oil and not butter, I could not taste that richness that comes only from butter.

But there was one which I made over and over again; for family, friends, tea, for when we had company over and even just for myself. The vanilla bean and lime/lemon zest loaf.  I used nimbus (limes) the first time around, and used Meyer lemons for some other attempts. For the other two cakes, I followed specific lemon cake recipes. For this one, I tweaked a vanilla cake recipe and added lemon/lime zest and juice to it. It was not a lemon cake to begin with. But I love it because it produces a fluffy, moist which does not need syrup to keep it moist and ever-so-slightly damp. And the speckled vanilla seeds just add a touch of pretty.

So whether you have Meyer lemons, regular lemons or good old desi nimbus, I encourage you to try this ūüôā

Carmela’s Lemon Loaf Cake | World Baking Day Challenge


So I’m posting this a day late, but I guess baking enthusiasts will agree that every day should be celebrated as baking day! The concept is fun-¬†you log on to the website http://www.worldbakingday.com, choose a recipe posted there based on the difficulty level, grab the badge and bake!

image courtesy | worldbakingday.com

image courtesy | worldbakingday.com

There it is- difficulty level 67- Carmela’s gorgeous lemon loaves. I recently bought some loaf pans, plus, I had plenty of lemons (desi nimbus)¬†in my fridge- which is what made me choose this beautiful, fragrant lemon loaf cake. Those two reasons, plus the fact that ever since I saw Julia from MasterChef Australia S4 bake her lemon syrup loaf cake, I’ve wanted to try it. (Remember her? The Princess Of Pastry who barely smiled. I mean she did smile the odd smile, but it seemed so forced. I liked her desserts much more than her. I was always rooting for Andy!)

Anyway, snap back to reality after reminiscing  about MC Australia. I followed the recipe with a few minor tweaks, because I did not have access to some ingredients. (Substituting butter for margarine and desi nimbus for lemons.) And you know what? Even though most lemon cakes I have come across use Meyer lemons, our desi nimbus work pretty well- they are quite fragrant and manage to give off that floral undertone. Which got me thinking- if this cake could turn out so well using nimbus, imagine how amazing it would be with larger, juicier Meyer lemons!

The batter was a little runnier than I expected and I feared it would not bake properly, but I was wrong. This recipe calls for creaming the eggs, sugar and lemon zest; then adding in the dry ingredients followed by more wet ingredients- milk and melted butter.

Ready for the oven! (I love saying that.)

Ready for the oven! (I love saying that.)

While the cake is baking, you make a quick lemon syrup- just lemon juice and sugar slowly boiled on a low flame till it reaches syrupy consistency. Once cooled, poke some holes in your cake and drizzle over! Just make sure you use your skewer to poke all the way through, so that the syrup permeates evenly and well.


Whether you have access to Meyer lemons or not, do try this cake. It’s simple enough and requires so few ingredients- in fact, I did not even need a trip to the grocery store.

CARMELA’S LEMON LOAF CAKE (Original recipe here.)


  • 160 g castor sugar
  • 1 1/2 medium eggs (for the half, take one egg, whisk it in a cup and pour only half the whisked egg into your batter. A tip I learned from ¬†Thanh!)
  • 175 g flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 125 ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100 g butter, melted and cooled
  • Zest of 3 regular sized nimbus

For The Syrup:

  • 50 g castor sugar
  • Juice of 2 nimbus


  • Preheat oven to 170 C
  • In a large bowl, cream the eggs, sugar and lemon zest.
  • Add the flour and baking powder and beat well.
  • Pour in the milk and vanilla extract and combine well.
  • Add the melted butter and beat a little more.
  • Once your batter has come together and there are no lumps, pour into your loaf tin and bake for 30-35 min at 170 C till the top becomes golden.

For The Syrup

Heat the castor sugar and lemon juice in a pan for 5-7  minutes on low heat until everything is dissolved and the mixture becomes a light syrup.


Once the cake is ready, allow it to cool a little. Then pierce some holes on the surface and spoon the syrup over the cake.

This is a perfect tea-time cake, and would be great with a dollop of fresh cream or vanilla ice cream. I didn’t have any decorative lemon slices to garnish the cake with, so I dusted it with powdered sugar instead. It’s a no-fail decorating tool!

There is something quite comforting about a loaf cake- they can be so delicious, without being intimidating for the baker or the consumer. Plus, you can dress it up or down with whatever you like, making it one of those creations which fits at a  party or a picnic. Personally, I like having a slice of loaf cake first thing in the morning, still in my pajamas, with a cup of coffee.

Am I- gasp– turning into Nigella?


Hope all you bakers out there had fun on World Baking Day. Here’s to more happy baking round-the-year!