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Thirty Minute Lemon Cake with Buttercream Icing

gluten free
wheat free
kid friendly
quick meals, fast feeds
cheap as chickpeas
2 spoon difficulty rating

30 minutes if you get a wiggle on + cooling time 20-30 minutes

Serves: 6-8

Thirty Minute Lemon Cake with Buttercream Icing

A simple, delicious cake - we give you step by step instructions to make it speedy! Yes it uses measuring cups not scales - this makes it faster in our experience. However, sets of cups are easy and cheap to buy from any large supermarket, pound shop or cook shop - and as a lot of US and Canadian recipes use them, it's worth getting a set.  

For beginner or unconfident cooks, this is a really useful tip. Seriously... get everything you need, equipment AND ingredients. It makes cooking much quicker, easier and enjoyable.

Replace flour and baking powder with g-f or w-f equivalents, eg Dove's Farm brand

Use a soya free margarine eg Pure Sunflower; Biona or other vegan types that don't contain it and use another type of plant milk, eg almond, coconut, hemp or rice



  • Oil or margarine to grease the cake tin + baking paper OR a cake tin liner OR a *silicone cake 'tin' placed on a baking tray
  • Scissors and pencil/pen if using baking paper option
  • 1 cake tin: a 20-21cm/8 inch square tin OR a round loose-bottomed tin of the same size (20-21cm)*
  • Sieve
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • 1 medium bowl for wet ingredients
  • 1 glass or ceramic bowl or jug for the aquafaba
  • 1 medium bowl for icing
  • 1 medium-large mixing bowl for cake
  • Jug or bowl for cake wet ingredients
  • Wooden spoon for mixing cake
  • Hand blender or electric cake mixer
  • Spatula
  • Grater
  • Fork
  • Cooling rack (use a clean oven rack if you don’t have a special one for baking)
  • Cake tin for storage – it needs to fit the base of your baking tin
  • Clingfilm or tinfoil


Cake – dry ingredients

  • 1¼ cups plain white flour (GF will also work)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (GF if appropriate)
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup caster sugar

Cake – wet ingredients

  • ½  cup plant milk, eg soya, almond, rice, oat
  • 1½ tsp cider or white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup plain vegetable oil 
  • 1½ tsp lemon essence
  • Optional: 1 lemon, zested/grated + 2 tbsp juice

Egg replacer

  • 90ml/6 tbsp aquafaba (tinned chickpea liquid)


  • 1⅓ cups icing sugar, sieved
  • ⅓ cup of mixed vegan margarine and coconut oil
  • 1-1½ tsp lemon essence
  • Soya or other plant milk, a drizzle (reduce if using extra lemon juice)
  • Optional: 1 lemon, zested and/or 1 tbsp or so lemon juice


1.Get out everything you need: equipment and ingredients.  Preheat the oven to 180°/350°/Gas Mark 4.

2. Oil the cake tin. Line the bottom of the tin with the baking paper OR just place the cake tin liner inside it. 

3.In the medium bowl, sieve the icing sugar. Set aside.

4. In the large bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and sugar. Set aside.

5. In the other medium bowl, measure out the plant milk and vinegar. Stir, then add the oil, lemon essence (and options if using) to the soya milk/vinegar mixture.

6.In the glass or ceramic bowl/jug, beat the aquafaba until it's white and frothy.

7. Make a hole in the flour mixture and pour the wet ingredients gradually into the centre. Mix quickly and thoroughly. If it's too thick and unwieldy, add a splash or two more of plant milk, eg a couple of tablespoons at a time. Fold in the beaten aquafaba last.

8. Once it’s all mixed and smooth, tap the bowl hard on the work surface. Pour the batter quickly into the cake tin, using the spatula to get all of it out of the bowl. Tap the cake tin – the tapping gets rid of air bubbles and makes for a lighter cake.

9. Place the cake in the pre-heated oven immediately so the raising agents get to do their work properly. Set a timer for 20 minutes.

10. While the cake is baking, make the icing. Soften the coconut oil for a few seconds in the microwave. Add the coconut and margarine to the sieved icing sugar. Cream with a fork until lump-free, adding the lemon essence and plant milk and mixing everything thoroughly. Place the icing mixture in the fridge or freezer to chill.

11. After the 20 minutes, test the cake with a toothpick or thin sharp knife. It should come out clean. If not, return to the oven for another 5 minutes or so.

11. Let the cake cool in the tin for about 20 minutes or so. Carefully hold the rack tight against the tin, turn carefully upside down then remove the paper. Reverse this move so the cake is topside up. Let it cool completely before icing.

12. Ice the cake by dipping a rubber or silicone spatula in hot water then spreading the icing over the top. Make it smooth or create peaks with a fork.

13. Line your storage tin lid with cling film or foil before adding the cake. Seal the cake without smudging the icing then add the big bit of the cake tin and seal carefully. (Vegan cakes dry out more quickly so extra airtightness is good to keep them as moist as possible.)

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