Lemon Drizzle Cake or Muffins

Lemon drizzle cake is a British classic. Too many gluten-free recipes don’t quite result in a light, moist, and delicious cake. This is the one you should bake – the polenta & coconut make it sturdy but it’s still light as a feather.

Alternative topping suggestions are in the footnotes.

Makes: 1 loaf cake; 12 large muffins; or 22 fairy cakes


  • 170g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 170g sugar (soft brown, golden caster, or golden granulated are best)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten (between 62-68g each when weighed in their shells)
  • 120g gluten-free flour
  • 50g polenta (fine cornmeal)
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder (only required if your GF flour is plain, not self-raising)
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 10g desiccated coconut nibs
  • 2 unwaxed lemons: finely grated zest, and juice
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Butter to grease tin if making a loaf


  • A standard 2lb loaf tin; or, one or two 12-hole muffin tins
  • Baking/parchment paper to line loaf tin; or, 12-24 paper muffin cases (depending on size)
  • 2 large mixing bowls + 1 small bowl for beaten eggs
  • Electric mixer (hand-held or stand) if not creaming butter/sugar by hand
  • A fine citrus grater, and a citrus juicer
  • A wooden skewer
  • Cooling rack


  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted).
  2. Grease and line a loaf tin with parchment. For muffins, place the cases in the muffin tin(s).
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add the beaten egg 1/3 at a time, continuously whipping until fully combined.
  4. Mix the flour, polenta, baking powder (if using), spices, coconut, and lemon zest in a separate bowl with a fork.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture in thirds, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Incorporate as much air as possible – remember, this is gluten-free, so you don’t have to worry about over-mixing the dry with the wet.
  6. Spoon into your prepared loaf tin, or spoon into muffin cases no more than 2/3 full to allow for rising. Note that the batter should ‘dollop’ i.e. hold its shape – it shouldn’t be thin enough to pour.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes (for a loaf) or 20-25 minutes (for muffins). If using the smaller ‘fairy cake’ sized cases, you should get up to 22 fairy cakes, and they take only 15 minutes to bake.
  8. Whilst baking, heat the caster sugar and lemon juice on the hob. Allow it to come to the boil, then reduce the heat and stir constantly until a thick syrup is achieved. This can be allowed to cool, and re-heated just before the cake/muffins are ready to leave the oven.
  9. When the cake/muffins are done – a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean – remove from the oven. For a loaf cake, poke deeply all over with a skewer (this ensures the syrup is fully absorbed), and pour the lemon syrup over the top. For muffins, remove the cases from the tin onto a cooling rack, prior to spooning the syrup over each.
  10. For a loaf cake, leave to cool in the tin – gluten free cakes have a tendency to fall apart if removed from the tin whilst too warm.

Topping Suggestions
You can top with fresh raspberries or other soft fruit, or with additional lemon zest, and/or some icing sugar. The main recipe picture shows muffins topped with homemade lemon curd instead of the lemon syrup.

I also made this recipe with a buttercream frosting (300g icing sugar, 150g softened unsalted butter) for holiday fairy cakes. I incorporated the lemon syrup into the buttercream, coloured it with red gel food colouring, then piped it onto the fairy cakes followed by a dusting of icing sugar.


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