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Lemon Trickle Cake

This is really a Victoria sponge flavoured with lemon zest and drenched, after baking, in a very lemony liquid icing that soaks through the cake and also forms a glaze. The intense lemony tang saves it from being too sweet.
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Prepare Ahead

You will need a 1 litre loaf tin for this recipe.


  1. 1

    Grease a large loaf tin, 1 litre capacity, and line the base and sides with baking parchment.

  2. 2

    Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together with a hand-held electric beater, or using a freestanding electric mixer, until very pale and fluffy – at least 5 minutes; up to 10 if you can manage it. This makes all the difference to the lightness of the finished cake. Add the grated lemon zest and then beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour with each (to help prevent the mixture curdling).

  3. 3

    Sift the remaining flour and salt into the mixture and fold in lightly using a large metal spoon. Add a little milk, if necessary, to achieve a good dropping consistency – i.e. the mixture should drop fairly easily off a spoon when you tap it on the side of the bowl.

  4. 4

    Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top gently and place in an oven preheated to 170°C/Gas Mark 3. Bake for 45–50 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

  5. 5

    Put the icing sugar in a bowl, add the lemon juice and stir together until smooth. Leaving the hot cake in its tin, use a fine skewer to make lots of holes all over the top of the cake, going quite deep, but not right through to the bottom. Spoon the lemon icing slowly over the cake so that it all soaks in. Leave in the tin until cool, then turn out and serve in slices.

  6. 6

    VARIATION: Victoria sponge cake. This recipe can be adapted to make a classic Victoria sponge. Omit the lemon zest. Increase the butter, sugar and flour quantities to 250g each and use 4 medium eggs. Bake the mixture in two greased and base-lined round, shallow 20cm cake tins at 180°C/Gas Mark 4 for 25 minutes. When cool, sandwich the cakes together with raspberry or strawberry jam and dust with caster sugar. Alternatively, fill with lightly whipped cream and gooseberry compote (see page 342 of River Cottage Everyday) or crushed fresh raspberries, sweetened with a little caster sugar.


  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 lemons , finely grated zest and 75ml juice
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 pinch sea salt , optional
  • 1 splash milk , optional
  • 200g icing sugar

Serves 10

Total time required Total time:

  • Preparation time:
  • Cooking time:

Recipe shopping list

8 products

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Recipe published with permission from Bloomsbury.

River Cottage Everyday

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