Little lemon cake

It started out life as a small orange cake, designed for a 7-inch round cake tin. It’s still small, but using lemon instead of orange gives the cake a delicious tang that goes oh so well with a good cup of tea or coffee.

The cake also rises fairly evenly, so it’s very easy to make a layer cake just by making two and sandwiching them together with whatever takes your fancy.

We don’t have a 7-inch round tin. So our cake is slightly flatter and wider than the original author had in mind. But we usually just make a single cake, decorate it with dark chocolate chips, and cut the cake into 1-inch squares round each chip to give delicious little bit-sized serves. This in itself makes it great for those parties where everyone ‘takes a plate’.

Finally, this is one cake that has so far resisted all our efforts to use something other than egg. Using the bicarb-vinegar-water combination instead of egg still gives a great-tasting cake with a good cakey texture, but it doesn’t rise quite as well as we’d like. That said, if you made three of these cakes in our larger tin, you’d be able to construct a rather spectacular and delicious layer cake without that precarious business of slicing a round cake horizontally.

A chocolate chip or two for each little bite of this little lemon cake

A chocolate chip or two for each little bite of this little lemon cake

Little lemon cake

  • Servings: 10-16
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of self-raising flour
  • 1 egg
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • ⅓ cup of lemon juice
  • 40 ml of oil (or 2 ounces of butter)
  • Icing: about ½ cup of icing sugar mixed with enough lemon juice to make a smooth, spreadable paste; chocolate chips to decorate


  1. Mix everything together, adding the egg last so your cake mix will be light and fluffy
  2. Pour it into a greased and lined 8-inch (20 cm) cake tin and bake for 30 minutes in a 180 degrees C (350F) oven. When it’s cooked, take it out of the oven and let it cool.
  3. Make the icing (be prepared to sift the icing sugar on a humid day) by gradually adding the lemon juice to the icing sugar, whisking the whole time to do your best to avoid lumps.
  4. Spread the icing onto the cooled cake and let it start to set before you decorate it with the chocolate chips (otherwise the chocolate chips on the edge can slide off and over the side).


Source: Adapted from from the recipe for ‘Small orange cake’ in the Australian Family Circle’s Favourite Cake Recipes, Murdoch Books: Sydney, 1991. They used oranges instead of lemons, and had margarine in the icing, but we prefer the tang of the lemon.

Little lemon cake

Little lemon cake


15 thoughts on “Little lemon cake

  1. Are my eyes deceiving me (it’s 2am and just got home from driving 1,050 miles!) or is this yummy cake flourless?


    • Sorry, no – I wish it was though. I forgot to type it in – in my rush to beat the kids (it’s school holidays here now). Thank you so much for seeing that! There’s now 1 cup of flour in it.


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