Glazed lemon loaf is what you make when you’re after something not too sweet that’s fuss-free to make. Lovely bright lemon flavour with buttery undertones, it’s a quick bread which means no yeast and easy to make. Excellent shelf life of 5 days!
Glazed lemon loaf
Quick breads are a great option for those times when you have the urge or need to bake, but don’t have the time for more involved recipes. They’re also convenient – easy to transport and easy to serve. Slice like bread and eat on a napkin!
As for today’s lemon glazed loaf, it’s here after I responded to a question on Facebook for how to convert my simple Lemon Yogurt Cake into a loaf. “Use the recipe as is but I’d switch half the oil with melted butter to get buttery flavour into it, because it’ll be taller than the cake so there’s less frosting-to-cake ratio so you’ll want the cake to have more flavour. I’d probably dial up the lemon flavour for the same reason. And it will take longer to bake – just keep testing with a skewer!”
By the time I got to the end of the response, the “just do this” suddenly seemed a little less simple. So I decided to create and properly test it, write it up and publish it! 😂
Ingredients in Glazed Lemon Loaf
Here’s what you need to make this. Note: Lemon extract is recommended for really good lemon flavour, but you can get away with doubling the zest instead!
Yogurt – A “secret ingredient” in baking to make batters that bake up into lovely moist cakes, muffins etc. Any plain, unsweetened yogurt is fine here. I typically use Greek Yogurt. Substitute with sour cream (full fat).
Flour – Just plain / all purpose flour. Self-rising flour can be used in place of flour and baking powder, however, the loaf won’t be quite as soft or rise as well. Baking powder + flour is just more effective. 🙂
Gluten-free – I have not tried myself but reader Julie reported great success using gluten free flour! See her comment on this recipe dated 12 June 2023.
Baking powder – This makes this loaf rise.
Butter AND oil – Butter adds lovely buttery flavour into baked goods while oil makes the crumb moist. In this particular loaf, I wanted the best of both worlds so we’re using both.
In most recipes, I use one or the other – or I use butter plus another technique to keep the crumb moist (like the more involved technique for the reader-favourite plush Vanilla Cake).
Oil types – Vegetable or canola oil, or any other plain flavoured oil (such as sunflower, grapeseed oil) can be used. For the butter, use unsalted.
Fresh lemon – Fresh please! We need the zest and juice. Zest is where all the lemon flavour is! Juice provides mostly tang, not much lemon flavour.
Lemon extract (natural) – To make the lemon flavour in this un-missable. It really does enhance the lemon flavour in a way that you can’t achieve using just fresh lemons. But if you’ve got a stack of fresh lemons, feel free to skip this and double up on zest instead.
Vanilla – For flavour. I use vanilla extract here which is real vanilla flavour. Vanilla essence is artificial so the flavour is not as good. I typically only use pricier vanilla bean paste or vanilla beans for more refined dessert recipes, such as Creme Brûlée and Flan Pâtissier (the world’s greatest Custard Tart!)
Sugar – Just 1 cup which makes this loaf on the less-sweet side.
Eggs – At room temperature, so they incorporate easily into the batter. I use large eggs which are ~55g / 2 oz each, an industry standard so the eggs will be labelled “large eggs” on the carton.
Salt – Just a touch, to bring out the flavours. This is good general practice for all (well, most!) sweet baking recipes.
For the glaze, you just need soft icing sugar / powdered sugar and lemon juice. Australia – be sure to use soft icing sugar, not pure icing sugar which will set into a hard icing, like royal icing.
How to make this lemon loaf
Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Mix wet into dry. Bake! How easy it that!
Whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Whisk the wet ingredients in a separate bowl until combined.
Pour the wet into the dry ingredients then whisk just until combined and lump free. Don’t keep whisking as this will cause your cake to come out hard!
Pour / scrape the batter into a lined pan. (Note – when I say “lined pan”, I use a single sheet of baking / parchment paper to line the long sides and base. I don’t bother with the short side – no sticking problems if you grease it).
Bake 45 minutes uncovered, then loosely cover with foil and bake for a further 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Rest 10 minutes – Let it rest in the pan for 10 minutes (all cakes are very fragile when fresh out of the oven) before transferring it onto a cooling rack.
Cool – Use the paper overhang to lift it out onto a cooling rack, then cool completely for 3+ hours before glazing!
Glaze – To make the glaze, just mix the icing sugar (powdered sugar) and lemon juice together. Then spoon / spread it onto the surface, coaxing drips down the side.
⚠️ GLAZE THICKNESS CAUTIONARY NOTE!
I find glazes will go from seemingly too thick to way too thin with just even the barest smidge of extra liquid. So take care and be patient when mixing the glaze! I only use 3 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice for 1 cup of icing sugar. At first it will seem like there’s nowhere near enough liquid, but be patient, keep mixing! It will turn into a thick glaze that will drape over your lemon loaf rather than spreading into a thin, transparent (unsatisfying) glaze.
The no-glaze option
“Everybody” loves the glaze but actually, there’s a good case for a no-glaze version too. No glaze means you can toast it like bread – literally, in a toaster. Then slather with butter and for a really great finishing touch, drizzle with honey.
You can just imagine the flavour combo here, right?? Not-too-sweet lemony cake soaked with lightly salted melted butter and sweet honey. It’s so good I almost published this recipe without the glaze!!
Whichever way you go, glaze or no glaze, you can’t go wrong with this lemon loaf. It’s also one of those recipes that’s quite forgiving, so it’s a good one for those new to baking or if you have little helpers keen to get involved.
Stays fresh 5 days
And finally – this lemon loaf has an excellent shelf life. Regular readers know that I am notorious for extending the shelf life of baked goods! It used to drive me mad that people would just accept that homemade muffins would go stale overnight, and that cakes are best made on the day of serving as they lose freshness within 24 hours. Who has the time to bake fresh on the day, not to mention the disappointment of not being able to enjoy cakes for days afterwards? The reader-favourite Vanilla Cake and Cupcakes are probably the most famous examples around here – they stay fresh for 4 to 5 days which is unheard of!
As for this lemon loaf – it’s perfect for 3 days, still great 5 days later. Keep it in the fridge if it’s warm where you are, but if not, the pantry is fine.
Enjoy! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Glazed lemon loaf
- 2 cups plain flour / all-purpose flour (Note 1 for GF)
- 4 tsp baking powder (make sure yours is alive!)
- 1/8 tsp salt
Wet ingredients (Note 2 – room temp):
- 1 cup plain yogurt , at room temperature
- 2 large eggs (~55g/2oz each), at room temperature
- 75g / 5 tbsp unsalted butter , melted and cooled
- 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)
- 2 tbsp lemon zest (~2 large lemons)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cups caster sugar / superfine sugar (sub normal/granulated sugar)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon extract – sub 1 tbsp extra zest (Note 3)
- 1 cup soft icing sugar/powdered sugar , sifted
- 3 – 3 1/2 tsp+ lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C fan-forced). Grease then line a 21 x 11 x 7 cm (8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75") with baking / parchment paper. (Note 4)
- Batter – Whisk Dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk Wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Pour Wet ingredients into the Dry ingredients. Whisk just until lump free. Pour into the prepared loaf pan then smooth the surface.
- Bake 45 minutes uncovered. Loosely cover with foil then bake a further 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Cool & glaze – Stand 10 min in pan then turn out onto a cooling rack. Fully cool before glazing (~3 hours). Use a spoon to spread and coax lovely glaze drips down the side! Cut thick slices and serve.
- Glaze – Whisk ingredients until combined and smooth, a thick smooth frosting that will drip thickly, not be transparent. Start with 3 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, and add 1/2 tsp extra, as needed. (Note 5 on thickness)
Life of Dozer
Dunno why I look so happy when Dozer looks so tortured, waiting to taste that bit of lemon cake!