Lemon Drizzle Cake (Sorry Starbucks)

I don’t have an office.

99% of my meetings are held in cafes & restaurants all over London. Mostly people are adventurous & like trying little independent places, but every now & then you find yourself a Starbucks addict.

I don’t mind Starbucks. They have big comfy chairs & free wifi… but the food?

Half filled paninis, dried out old brownies, fatty muffins, no thanks.

I sat happily through my meeting with an over-priced cup of tea while Claire (the woman I was meeting) sipped her frothy coffee bonanza thing and chatted about her company. When she finally dug into her waiting slice of cake, she rolled her eyes & exclaimed “Oh don’t Starbucks just make the best lemon cake in the world?!”

“Mmmm” I mumbled, not wanting to be rude…. then changed my mind. I disagreed and told her she needed to try real lemon cake.

I promised to make her one for our next meeting.

So at the end of last week I whipped up a lemon loaf, drizzled it in its lemony glaze & popped it into her office.

Like bees on a honey pot, everyone lept on the cake and it quickly vanished into happy, chattering mouths.

Everyone, without exception, agreed that proper lemon drizzle cake is far superior. Sorry Starbucks.

I promised the recipe, so here it is!

It’s effortlessly simple & absolutely ancient.

You start with a basic sponge recipe (which is always the weight of an egg in flour, butter & sugar, doubled, tripled etc. depending how big you want your cake) and then drizzle it in lemon heaven:


3 large eggs 6oz (170g)

self raising flour 6oz (170g)

caster sugar 6oz (170g)

unsalted butter (room temp) 6oz (170g)

Zest of 2 lemons

*If using food processor add 1 small tsp baking powder


Juice of 2 lemons (the ones you zested)

4oz (110g) powdered sugar

Grease a bread tin (about 24 x 10.4) & pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F.

Cream together your cake ingredients until you’re left with a nice smooth cake batter. Pour into your pan & bake for about 30-35mins. While you’re waiting, mix together your icing sugar & lemon juice until totally smooth, pop it to one side. After 30mins check the cake by inserting a skewer into the middle, if it comes out clean it’s done. If not, give it a few mins more. When it’s ready use your skewer to poke holes all over the cake, all the way down to the bottom. Pour over your lemon glaze…

& leave to cool. Personally I like to eat it when it’s still hot, but cold cake is much more civilised & easier to transport. Remove from it’s tin & slice into manageable hunks.

Go on, lick that screen, you know you want to!

Mine has a grand total of 6 ingredients. Starbucks puts this many in theirs:

Sugar, bleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid), egg, unsalted butter (pasteurized cream), powdered sugar (sugar, cornstarch), water, lemon juice (lemon juice from concentrate (water, concentrated lemon juice), sodium benzoate, sodium metabisulfate and sodium sulfite (preservatives), lemon oil), vegetable shortening (palm and canola oil), emulsifier (propylene esters, mono-diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, tricalcium phosphate), nonfat milk, baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate), food starch – modified, natural flavor, salt, icing base (dextrose, stearic acid, agar agar, salt, pectin, guar gum, sodium hexametaphosphate), corn syrup, natural butter flavor (maltodextrin, natural butter flavor, annatto and turmeric (for color)), vital wheat gluten, guar gum, xanthan gum, natural lemon oil, beta carotene wsp (maltodextrin, glucose syrup, gum arabic, vegetable oil, tocopherol, vitamin c, beta carotene pure, silicon dioxide), titanium dioxide, pan spray (soy lecithin, [contains one or more of the following: canola oil, palm oil, soybean oil, natural flavor, mineral oil]).

What the frick is “natural butter flavour”?!

On a lighter note…

Why does Snoop Dog carry an umbrella?

Fo’ drizzle!

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  • Lynne Marshall

    This is on my list to make over the next week or so. What size lemons do you use please?

  • Guest

    I noticed you listed unsalted butter. How much unsalted butter?

  • Just made this and am waiting for it to cool so that I can give it a try. It smells amazing!!

  • Helen Gilmour

    I want to make this so bad but how much unsalted butter should I use?

  • Coleen

    How much butter?

  • This is one of my favourite recipes. Love it!!


  • Holland

    This is the best Lemon Drizzle cake I’ve tasted.

  • Gingerandbread

    This looks absolutely delicious! Great title – I bet if you google the word ‘overrated’ a certain coffee chain will come up straightaway…

  • violeta


  • Sam Croot

    My cake burnt a little, maybe down to fan assisted oven? I’m going to try lower temperature longer time. I think you’d need twice the quantity of the glaze too.

  • Vroni Shiohara

    I tried it this morning! Nothing left of it 13 o’clock Tokyo time! I used three lemons and its perfect! Thanks a lot!!! *・゜゚・*:.。..。.:*・'(*゚▽゚*)’・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・*

  • A mcg

    Baked this on the weekend. Delicious!!

  • Sally May

    If you haven’t tried making this cake yet, what are you waiting for?!! It’s so easy, quick and absolutely fresh and delicious. Hubby is a happy man…

  • Amara S

    The last time I had lemon cake was at my cousin’s 5th birthday party and honestly it was the most disgusting cake I ever had(ok maybe not, there were others) but after last year’s sudden boom in the lemon cake recipes I thought I’ll give lemon cake another go so I bought the lemon loaf at Starbucks and to be honest, I didn’t like it. So today I thought I’ll give Rosie’s Lemon cake recipe a try because I’ve wanted to try it out for a while anyways and honestly it is the MOST DELICIOUS thing EVER! I did add around 4tbsp of milk to it, but the smell of this cake, ohh my goodness it filled my house and I couldn’t wait to dig in, and when I did it was the most moist, buttery sinfully heavenly little piece of goodness I’ve ever tried! Thank you so much Rosie!

  • joyce

    I make this cake often, it is delicious x

  • I must have made this recipe at least twenty times! Absolute dream of a recipe, thanks for sharing! Totally agree with you, Starbucks is majorly overrated! Where I am in France there are literally no chain coffee shops, ever single one is a secret little treat. It’s the best!


    Lauren xxx

  • just made this!


  • Rettie

    Mmmm loooks delicious

  • Selin

    Best lemon cake ever! Love your recipes 🙂

  • Can’t wait to try this! My mouth is watering just thinking about it 🙂

    Emily x

  • Ian

    Must say this is the only recipe I use now as by far the best but will say one thing tho but when mixing the drizzle I never get the nice lemon icing on the top like the ones in the picture , I could add more icing sugar but would lose the sharp lemon taste which I don’t want to lose, any ideas.maybe if I let the cake go cold before pouring on the drizzle.?

  • GingerChouchou

    I made this cake last night – it was delicious. I followed the recipe exactly but used a bundt cake. I should’ve doubled the recipe because it was a small cake. The drizzle was to die for. Thank you for a great recipe!

  • Aimee Monica

    Hello! I made this cake yesterday and it’s simply divine! However I have a few questions in mind.. My drizzle didn’t harden! It soaked the cake terribly and the color is yellowish as opposed to yours, which is white. Do you have any idea why this is? I used liquid from 2 lemons as you suggested in the recipe.. Thank you!

  • Charlotte Fletcher

    This is the only lemon cake I will eat. Thank you SO much for sharing, I am a far too hooked on it! (Also when WHEN is your recipe book hitting stores? I know it must be on the horizon soon!!!) xx

  • Jennifer

    Can I use all purpose flour instead of self rising flour?

  • Sarah

    My icing didn’t turn out opaque like yours Rosie! 🙁 is there a knack?!

  • Cathy

    Your recipe is the same as the one I use. Delicious result every time! As for Starbucks, I don’t even go over their threshold, never mind buy any of their products. I usually refer to them as S***bucks!

  • I love the contrast to the Starbucks version – their list of ingredients is staggering! I’ve actually made a similar recipe myself but with the addition of poppy seeds and its really nice – take a look:

  • Hannah

    I have made this twice now. I cant eat them as i am allergic to flour, however my husband very much enjoyed the first batch. Second was for a bake sale

  • Sally

    No way ma’am 🙂 We would say “doesn’t Starbucks” in the US of A! Sounds like an Englishwoman to me.. always referring to a company as singular as I’ve learned from my lovely British husband. In NA we use the plural form when referring to a company!

  • Loubser

    This is the best lemon drizzle cake I’ve eaten or baked ever! Thanks 🙂

  • kayleigh egerton

    I just used this recipe, it is by far the best lemon drizzle cake we’ve had and perfect for the Easter weekend xx

  • Jimbo Jones

    Thanks for a great recipe! I don’t know if it’s been mentioned already but the drizzle quantities didn’t seem quite right…I followed your suggestion and it didn’t really form a thick enough syrup. I notice that some other recipes use roughly twice as much icing sugar and half the quantity of lemons (220g sugar + 1 lemon). Nevertheless, a fantastic cake and far superior to Starbucks’! 🙂