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Vegan Lemon Cake

Italy is one of my favorite countries to visit: the beautiful coastlines, historical cities, charming villages and passionate people – and of course: the food!

Italian cuisine is one of the most vegan-friendly in Europe. Sure, they throw parmesan on top of everything, but often they just give you a bowl on the side where you add it yourself, and if not you can pretty much always ask them to omit it in your dish.

Italian cakes however have received very little attention (except for gelato), which is a shame because there are so many delicious treats to try out – like this vegan lemon cake with olive oil!

The traditional lemon and olive oil cake comes from southern Italy and includes eggs, but in this vegan version you can’t notice that there aren’t any eggs at all!

The cake has a lovely balanced flavor of lemon and is neither too sweet nor too tangy, and with just a hint of flavor from the olive oil. This is Italy in a nutshell, if you ask me ;).

veganlemoncake-sofiavonporat

vegan lemon cake

Vegan Lemon Cake
The traditional lemon and olive oil cake comes from southern Italy and includes eggs, but in this vegan version you can’t notice that there aren’t any eggs at all!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups of flour
  2. 1 tsp baking powder
  3. 1 tsp baking soda
  4. ½ tsp salt
  5. ½ cup sugar
  6. zest of a lemon
  7. ½ cup olive oil
  8. 1 ½ tbsp water
  9. 1 cup soy yoghurt
  10. 1 tsp vanilla powder (optional, can be substituted with vanilla essence)
  11. ¼ cup lemon juice
  12. 50 g (1.76 oz) vegan butter, melted
  13. Lemon Glaze
  14. 1 cup icing sugar
  15. 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  16. 1 tbsp water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven at 160°C/320F. Grease a bread form and line the inside with a baking sheet or breadcrumbs.
  2. Sift the flour in a bowl and combine with baking powder, baking soda, vanilla powder, salt, lemon zest and sugar.
  3. Add water, olive oil, vegan yoghurt, lemon juice and melted vegan butter and quickly combine all the ingredients to a smooth batter (be careful not to overmix).
  4. Pour the batter in the bread form and bake in the oven for 40-45 min or until a skewer comes out clean (note in the comments that some covered the cake with foil and let it bake for longer). Carefully remove the cake from the form and let cool completely.
  5. Mix icing sugar and lemon juice to a creamy consistency, spread over the cake and let it firm before slicing the cake.
Sofia von Porat https://sofiavonporat.com/

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69 Comments

  • Reply
    Jess
    April 2 at 8:26 pm

    This looks amazing! I used to get some lemon pound cake from Starbucks and now that I’m vegan I miss it. I can’t wait to try this out.

    Curious – is the yoghurt crucial or could I use non-dairy milk instead?

    • Reply
      Sofia
      April 2 at 9:18 pm

      Hi Jess! Using non-dairy milk should be just fine, but I would recommend that you gradually add the milk to make sure the batter doesn’t turn out too runny since yoghurt has a slightly thicker consistency.

      Let me know how it works out! 🙂

      • Reply
        JANICE BLACKMER
        April 4 at 10:56 am

        Sofia just wanted to let you know that my daughter baked this and brought it over yesterday as a special treat…it looked beautiful and tasted lovely!..many many thanks:-)ps we live in Bella Italia and my website it http://www.metamorefosi.com

      • Reply
        Catherine Argall
        March 19 at 11:11 am

        Sofia,
        I own a baking business in Perth Western Australia and I’ve turned you Lemon cake in to little cupcakes and they’ve been working a treat for me. There are a great number of young adults at uni who are vegan. I added poppyseed and fresh passionfruit to the icing. They are just ‘yummo’. Thanks for helping a little mum with no ‘vegan’ idea turn your idea into a thriving arm to her business. Love Cate

  • Reply
    bob
    May 17 at 6:59 pm

    It would be helpful if the calories, fat, etc was included in the recipe. Cooking vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy

    • Reply
      Denise
      March 21 at 2:09 am

      Are u kidding…she’s giving you a complimentary recipe and you want her to break down the calories, etc. Please don’t be “that” vegan that makes everyone think we are all annoying as hell.

    • Reply
      Vegan Hedgehog
      May 10 at 4:35 am

      Get a grip, Bob. No one tried to claim cake a superfood. It’s cake.

      Many people eat vegan because of food allergies. And, for that reason a non vegan cake could be very unhealthy and even cause death.

  • Reply
    Erin
    December 23 at 3:47 am

    I just made this and cooked it forever and the inside is still raw 🙁

    • Reply
      NLH
      December 25 at 7:53 am

      Me too. I’m still unsurebwhy it did that. The bottom is oily too.

    • Reply
      Sofia
      December 26 at 9:02 pm

      Hi Erin! I just double checked the recipe above and noticed that it says 1 cups flour, it should say 2 cups of flour so that is most definitely the reason. I am so sorry for the spelling mistake!

  • Reply
    Morgan
    February 6 at 7:04 am

    Im thinking this should say to bake for an HOUR and 30 minutes? At 30 minutes is complete liquid, and cakes generally need to bake for an hour and a half.

    • Reply
      Sofia
      February 6 at 3:25 pm

      Hey Morgan – very strange to hear – I just tested this recipe again for you today and it was ready in 30mins – of course depending on your oven an extra 10min might be needed but not longer.

  • Reply
    elle malpass
    February 7 at 11:10 am

    Hello lovely recipe-mines been in the oven for 20 minutes longer than the time and still raw in the middle? I might try it in a standard cake tin next time so it’s not so deep 🙂

    • Reply
      Sofia
      February 8 at 10:40 am

      Hej Elle! Hmm yes that could be the reason, what size loaf pan did you use? The smaller the loaf pan the longer it takes to bake. I’m using a loaf pan with the size 25 x 11 cm and it takes 30–40 minutes to bake. Also, the dough should be quite thick before it goes into the oven, not at all very runny. 🙂

      • Reply
        elle malpass
        February 8 at 10:55 am

        Hey there thanks for replying 🙂 it cooked after the additional 20 mins (I covered it with foil so the top didn’t burn) it’s lovely and moist – I’ll be making it again for sure! My loaf pan is 20cmx11cm roughly and I’m happy to use is again with the added cooking time. My dough was probably too thin as you say- as the yoghurt i used was very runny. Thanks for sharing such a tasty recipe! 🙂

  • Reply
    Maria
    February 21 at 2:37 am

    I made this today and it’s absolutely delicious. I omitted the vanilla powder because I’m not sure what that is. I also used canola oil instead of olive oil and added a little extra water because It was kinda thick. I baked it for 45 minutes. It’s perfect and tastes just like the one from Starbucks! Thanks for sharing this recipe!!:)

  • Reply
    Laura
    February 23 at 6:22 pm

    I’m having the same problem as others. Over an hour of cooking, top is brown, but insides are solid like a cake. It seems very oily. Sad it did work out.

  • Reply
    Maria
    February 23 at 7:09 pm

    I followed one reviewers tip which was to cover the loaf with aluminum foil at the 30 minute mark and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. I’ve made it three times already and it comes out perfect every time.

  • Reply
    Stacey
    March 21 at 12:01 pm

    Afternoon, might be a silly question, but I am no natural baker! Do you use plain flour or self raising?
    Many thanks xx

    • Reply
      Sofia
      April 1 at 8:58 am

      Hi Stacey! Just plain flour, we don’t have sel raising flour in Sweden where I live 🙂

  • Reply
    Patricia
    March 31 at 6:08 pm

    I would like to prepare the cake one week ahead, would you know if this cake freezes well? i.e. does it go soggy etc??

    • Reply
      Sofia
      April 1 at 8:58 am

      Hi Patricia! I haven’t tried freezing it myself yet, but I think it would be fine 🙂

  • Reply
    Tracey
    April 2 at 9:09 pm

    I cooked it for an hour (half an hour with foil on top as suggested above) and it really is the best vegan cake I have ever made. Thank you Sofia 🙂

  • Reply
    Gill
    April 9 at 5:11 pm

    I used coconut flour but I think I’ll use normal plain flour next time as it’s quite crumbly and fell apart a bit when I put the icing on!! Smells and tastes lovely just looks shabby. But I’m sure that’s due to the gluten free flour not combining well – my error.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Sati
    April 12 at 5:41 pm

    Hi quick question can I use vanilla essence instead of vanilla powder.

    • Reply
      Sofia
      April 16 at 8:37 am

      Hi Sati! Yes you can 🙂

  • Reply
    Jenny
    April 24 at 1:40 am

    Hi Sofia – thanks so much for a winner of a recipe! I chose this for a large family gathering, for my mother’s 80th bithday cake. I doubled the recipe, and used the yoghurt I had on hand, which was coconut (i was worried the flavours would clash but they blended in well.) It was such a winner! The non-vegans and vegans alike kept questioning whether it was truly vegan. It didn’t last long! PS – it only took 30mins, my oven is electric and fan-forced. I used a roasting pan for the double mixture and it cooked through perfectly.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Ali
    May 12 at 8:27 am

    Hi Sofia, I just tried this recipe I sure hope it turns out wel. I didn’t have vegan butter so I used my earth balance flaxseed oil. I tried a bit of the batter before putting it in the oven and it tasted so much like olive oil. I sure hope it goes away once it’s baked. Thanks for the recipe if it doesn’t turn out I’ll just have to try it again.

  • Reply
    Alice
    May 12 at 5:09 pm

    Hello! Can’t wait to try this recipe. I’m sure it will be perfect for a spring picnic! I was wondering if I could use cocunut oil instead of vegan butter… I can’t find it anywhere and I heard that margarine isn’t the healthiest choice out there. Thanks, cheers from Italy!

  • Reply
    Melissa
    June 23 at 4:14 am

    Kind of disappointed. Far too sweet and not nearly enough lemon. Also had to bake for about an hour. Sorry I hate giving bad reviews but it really is like trying to suck down pure sugar.

  • Reply
    Stacey
    June 23 at 10:44 pm

    Love this recipe. Is there an English version of your cookbook?

  • Reply
    Barbara
    July 16 at 11:33 am

    I bake for a shop every week and this week I wanted to make a lemon cake. So I googled and found you. This cake turned out so good. I popped in some poppy seeds because I love dots 🙂 Thank you so much for this recipe Sofia. I have bookmarked your page and can’t wait to make your macaron whoopies soon! X Barbara from Groningen – the Netherlands

    • Reply
      Sofia
      February 14 at 8:17 am

      Oh I’m so glad to hear it, poppy seeds sound like a great addition!

  • Reply
    Lillian
    August 7 at 5:48 am

    I just made this and it came out so moist and delicious! Next time I will add a 1/2 cup of lemon juice becauce I like a more pronounced lemony flavor. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply
    Jackie Delaney
    August 18 at 10:11 am

    Delicious cake, but I also had to cook it for over an hour. It could do with less sugar. Apart from that it’s a wonderful recipe. Thank you for sharing Sofia!.

  • Reply
    Emma Amoeba
    October 8 at 10:15 pm

    Hi there, this recipe was superb, thank you so very much for sharing! It is now part of (credited to you, of course) my personal recipe Bible. If it helps other readers to know, I used 1tsp of vanilla extract in place of powder, and I used coconut yoghurt in place of soy. I also covered the loaf pan with foil at the 30 minute mark. I didn’t alter any other parts of the recipe, but I would add more lemon next time to compete with the lovely flavour of the EVOO. I folded the ingredients together with an incredibly gentle touch until just wet, and I think this was a crucial step, because it was not at all chewy or flat from over mixing. I kept half of the loaf for home and took half to work. Someone recommended trying ‘that loaf’, the lemon one, it’s absolutely gorgeous’. ‘I made that!’ I gushed, and told her where to find the recipe. Pleased to have this recipe in my arsenal, and might try it using an orange next time. Thanks again! 🙂

    • Reply
      Sofia
      November 23 at 9:26 am

      So glad to hear you liked it Emma, and it makes me so happy your friends did too! Thanks for your lovely comment, I agree that it’s important that the batter isn’t overmixed.

  • Reply
    Marlin
    November 16 at 10:54 pm

    Hi can I use almond yogurt? My husband is allergic to soy

    • Reply
      Sofia
      November 23 at 9:23 am

      Hi Marlin! Yes I think that would work 🙂

      • Reply
        Marlin
        November 24 at 3:25 am

        Thank you 🙂 I will try it

  • Reply
    Kathleen
    January 11 at 6:38 pm

    Have you tried this with gluten free flour? I think I will try it but from other comments will make sure the mix has xanthan gum and/or guar gum.

    • Reply
      Sofia
      February 14 at 8:16 am

      I haven’t tried it with gluten free flour yet, but let me know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Daniela
    January 15 at 11:25 am

    Excellent! Tastes sooo good, people couldn’t believe it’s vegan and that’s homemade. It was ready in 35 minutes in an oven with ventilation.

  • Reply
    Heidi Kirjavainen
    January 31 at 3:52 pm

    Thank you for this recipe! I made this with orange instead of lemon and it turned out amazing. I got so much praise and thanks for this cake. It surely made my day:) I baked it in 175 celsius 40min after seeing ppl ending up with raw cakes, worked out fine.

  • Reply
    mariana moura
    January 11 at 3:22 am

    Hi! Thank you for sharing! It tastes very good. Just… breaks in pieces very easily. Can even cut a slice as pretty and intact as the one you show. Any tips for this? 🙂

  • Reply
    Kellee Dixon
    January 21 at 9:44 am

    I baked this cake today and it was very successful. I have flavored olive oil’s and I did a mixture of orange and lemon olive oil for the olive oil in the recipe. I used coconut sugar instead of white sugar and I did not have yogurt, so I used one cup of cashew milk. I baked it for 55 minutes with the last 25 minutes under foil. For the icing I put half a stick of vegan butter into my food processor with the powdered sugar and the lemon juice as well it’s a little almond extract. The icing came out creamy and fluffy and wonderfully tangy. The cake is moist and completely cooked through, and I will definitely make this recipe again. It seems as though you could even change the flavor profile to an almond cake with amaretto icing . I’m excited to experiment with different ideas. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Kellee Dixon
      January 21 at 9:52 am

      I wanted to make a note of the fact that the vegan butter that I put in with the icing was in addition to the vegan butter in the actual recipe. I melted half of a stick into the recipe (2oz) as specified, and it was the remaining half that went into the icing at room temperature. I was attempting to give the icing a bit of a “buttercream“ texture.

      • Reply
        Sofia
        February 14 at 8:13 am

        That sounds delicious!

  • Reply
    Lieke
    February 3 at 3:33 pm

    I’m so so dissapointed by this cake and the recipe. I would definitely NOT recommend making it! After 2 hours it was still not cooked and the bottom half of the cake was soggy and oily. It tasted bitter (I guess because of the lemon zest) and even the glazing was off (to much moisture, had to add a whole lot of icing sugar to fix that). Such a wast of ingredients and time.

  • Reply
    Sheena
    February 14 at 8:01 am

    Hi! Where I live we don’t have soy yoghurt available but we do have coconut yoghurt. Do you think that would be possible substitute or would you rather use nut milk as a comment says above?

    • Reply
      Sofia
      February 14 at 8:12 am

      Hi Sheena! The great thing with soy milk or soy yoghurt is that when it’s mixed with the lemon it will curdle and help the cake get less dense and heavy, but I’m sure nut milk and coconut yoghurt will work just fine, the only difference is the cake might get slightly heavier. 🙂

  • Reply
    Suzanne
    February 19 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to try this!

    • Reply
      Sofia
      March 1 at 2:02 pm

      You’re welcome, let me know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Vanessa
    February 19 at 6:43 pm

    This looks so good! What vegan yogurts do you recommend?

    • Reply
      Sofia
      March 1 at 2:02 pm

      Thank you! I use Alpro’s soy yoghurt which I found to work very well.

  • Reply
    Kay
    February 27 at 10:02 pm

    Amazing cake! Recipe was awesome. My kids, friends and family loved it. As did I. I made the recipe at a 1 1/2 of the ingredients for a square pan. The most fluffy, light and delectable yummyness full of lemon flavour. I made my drizzle by adding powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest and also added cream from one can of full fat coconut milk (refrigerated overnight). Whipped that baby until smooth and airy then dolloped it over a square and topped with fresh raspberries and blueberries.
    DELICIOUS!!!
    Great Recipe. Will be making this time and again.

    • Reply
      Sofia
      March 1 at 2:01 pm

      I’m so glad to hear you and your family loved it Kay! Your version of the topping sounds absolutely delightful, will definitely try that myself next time. 🙂

  • Reply
    Charlie
    March 10 at 8:32 pm

    Hi, I want to give this recipe ago as it sounds lovely, just unsure how many grams are in a cup? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sofia
      March 12 at 6:18 pm

      Hi Charlie! It depends on which of the ingredients you refer to. If you measure by Deciliter it makes it easier to calculate 1 cup is around 2 dl. 🙂

  • Reply
    Joanna
    March 24 at 12:09 am

    Hello Sofia,

    I made the cake last night. Followed your recipe to the t, and it turned out lovely.
    Thak you so much for sharing your recipes.

    Joanna

  • Reply
    Heidi
    April 2 at 4:08 pm

    I am new to a vegan diet and have been missing baked goods. This cake was so good! I look forward to making it again. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Joanna
    April 21 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you so much for this recipe. The tastes are balanced perfectly. I did have to bake it like 5 minutes more but it turned out lovely.

  • Reply
    Linda
    May 12 at 3:26 pm

    Hi Sofia,
    what kind of setting do you use on your oven? Fan/convection? If so, that would explain why so many people had problems with the cake not setting or not baking properly. If they only have a gas or “normal” oven, you need to bake it 20 degrees higher than at with a convection oven/fan setting (180C/350F). I love to bake and wanted to pass this recipe onto a friend but the temperature is very unusual but if using the fan setting, it would make total sense. =)

  • Reply
    Vivia
    May 18 at 8:32 pm

    I just made this cake & it‘s wonderful!!
    Used gluten free flour & after reading some of the comments decided to omit the water & add 1 Tbsp of flax seeds that had soaked in almond milk as well as 1 Tbsp of Chia seeds also soaked over night in vegan milk. 40minutes in the oven was perfect.
    Thank you so much for the recipe 🙂

  • Reply
    Katt
    May 24 at 1:49 am

    Hi Sofia, I’m looking at the recipe and a couple of the ingredients don’t have the amounts (salt, sugar, olive oil and lemon juice). Can you please clarify? Thanks!

  • Reply
    Gemma
    June 22 at 11:57 am

    I’ve just baked this cake after baking and throwing away so many other vegan cake recipe attempts, and it works! Absolutely fantastic and yummy – thank you.
    After a lot of research, it is important that the batter is thick, and almost dough-like, similar to baking scones. If it is runny, the flour cannot provide enough structure in the cake without eggs to cope with all the liquid, and it won’t cook.
    The recipe here works with the 2 cups of flour, and I used coconut yogurt and vanilla extract, and replaced water with lemon juice. Used a ring tin and baked at 175-180 deg C, and the cake cooked in 30 mins. I would like more lemon flavour though, but not sure how.

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