This gluten-free lemon drizzle cake is moist and fluffy and a little bit buttery. It’s somewhere between a fluffy layer cake and a pound cake and is drizzled in a simple two ingredient lemon icing.
Gluten-free flour blend – My go-to flour for gluten-free baking is King Arthur Measure for Measure Flour. It works well in almost all of my recipes and is the most affordable of the certified gluten-free flours I’ve tested. It’s also widely available in grocery stores and online.
Pamela’s All-Purpose Artisan blend will yield similar results. I have not tested with Cup4Cup (contains milk powder) or Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 (not GF certified).
Lemon – The cake gets its lemony flavor from lemon zest and lemon extract. I have tested cakes with lemon juice and found that I had to use so much of it that it altered the rise and the texture of the cake.
Lemon zest is packed with lemony flavor and doesn’t cause any odd chemical reactions. A microplane works best for creating small shreds that disappear into the cake. Once the lemons are zested, the juice of one will be used for the icing.
Lemon extract is really the best way to get a strong pop of flavor to cakes. Everything else seems to fade in the baking process. So the combo of extract and zest is the key to this cake.
Normally I use only oil as the fat in my cakes. It does a much better job of adding moisture, particularly in gluten-free cakes. It also makes gluten-free cakes a little fluffier. But I love the combination of lemon and butter so this cake has some butter in it as well as oil.
Milk – I am lactose-free and mostly dairy-free so I use a dairy-free milk substitute. Soy milk is my favorite for baking, but coconut, rice, hemp, oat and almond milk are also good options.
The rest of the ingredients are just the basics – sugar, eggs, salt and baking powder.
Important note: Because this cake batter has butter, it’s important that the eggs and milk are at room temperature when added. If they are cold and straight out of the fridge, they will cause the butter to seize and turn lumpy.
If your eggs are cold, place them in a bowl of warm water before you start working on the recipe. They should be at room temperature by the time you need to add them. Heat the milk in a glass measuring cup for 10 to 20 seconds in the microwave.
This drizzle cake is slathered with a simple two ingredient lemon icing. Just lemon juice and powdered sugar are all you need. The icing adds an extra pop of lemon flavor and makes this a showstopper of a cake.
My preference is for a drizzle on the cake. If you want to completely coat the top, make one and a half times the recipe in the card below. This will make it more of a Starbucks Lemon Loaf look alike.
Ribbons of lemon zest make a beautiful garnish on this loaf cake. Use the zester tool pictured below to create zest for garnish.
Moist Gluten-Free Lemon Drizzle Cake (Loaf) with Lemon Icing
- 2 lemons
- ¾ c milk or dairy free milk
- 4 Tbsp (2 oz) unsalted butter, room
- 1 c sugar
- 2 eggs, room
- ½ c oil – avocado, sunflower, canola or other neutral flavored oil
- 2½ tsp lemon extract or lemon flavor
- 1½ c gluten-free flour blend* gluten-free rice-free flour option
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 c powdered sugar
Make the Lemon Cake
- If your eggs are cold, place them in a bowl of warm water to bring to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Either grease or grease and line an 8½ x 4½ inch loaf pan. The parchment will assure easy removal from the pan.
- If the milk is cold, heat it to bring it to room temperature. I heat it in a glass measuring cup for 15 seconds in the microwave.
- Zest both lemons directly into the milk. A microplane (linked above) works best to create fine zest that disappears into the cake. Also the fines side of a box grater will work. If you need a quick tutorial on zesting, see my post How to Zest a Lemon.One of the lemons will be used for juice for the icing.
- Place the soft butter and ½ of the sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium high for 2 minutes scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
- Add one of the eggs and beat on medium until it's incorporated.
- Add the remaining sugar and egg, the oil and lemon extract and beat until it's creamy.
- Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
- Alternate adding the the flour mixture and milk/zest ⅓ at a time mixing briefly after each addition.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat on medium high for 20 seconds.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level the top.
- NOTE: If you use dairy milk, check the cake at 40 minutes. If it has browned on top, I recommend covering the top of the cake with a foil tent for the remainder of baking.Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes total or until the top is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Lemon Icing
- Juice one of the lemons to get 2 Tbsp juice.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together until smooth.
- Drizzle over cooled cake.
- This cake will stay fresh well covered at room temp for 2-3 days.