Lemon Drizzle Cake with Candied Lemon Peel

I’m not massively into baking, but for an upcoming cake sale at work in aid of St Peter & St James Hospice I thought I’d try my hand at one of my favourites, lemon drizzle cake. 

To give it a bit more flare visually I had a pop at doing candied lemon peel to decorate it with. I foolishly thought doing both the night before the cake sale would be fine but realistically the lemon peel takes ages to prepare and make, so I would highly suggest doing this the day before you want to bake the cake if possible. My recipe for the lemon drizzle came from a Hairy Biker’s cookbook my mum bought me called Mum’s Know Best (of course) and the candied lemon peel recipe I got from the BBC Good Food website.

Time: Candied lemon peel takes about 2 and a half hours to prep and cook so best to do it in advance. Cake takes about 20 minutes to prep and ad additional 45 to bake and do the drizzling.

Cost: The most expensive purchase was a bag of unwaxed lemons at £1.50 – everything else was in the pantry. TOTAL COST: Approximately £2.

Serves 10


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For the candied lemon peel:

  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • Bag of granulated sugar

For the lemon drizzle cake:

  • 2 small unwaxed lemons, well scrubbed
  • 275g granulated sugar
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 large free-range eggs (I used 4 medium ones)


  • Start by preparing the candied lemon peel, preferably the day before making the cake (so it gives the peels time to dry out properly). Cut the fruit into 8 wedges, then cut out the flesh, leaving about 5mm thickness of peel and pith. Cut each wedge into 3-4 strips.

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  • Put the peel in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 mins. Drain, return to the pan and re-cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 mins.
  • Set a sieve over a bowl and drain the peel, reserving the cooking water. Add 100g sugar to each 100ml water you have. Pour into a pan and gently heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  • Add the peel and simmer for 30 mins until the peel is translucent and soft. Something a bit odd happened with mine where the sugar started to boil and puff up like the early stages of making honeycomb. If this happens just reduce the temperature and keep an eye on it.
  • Leave to cool in the syrup, then remove with a slotted spoon and arrange in 1 layer on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Put in the oven at the lowest setting for 30 mins to dry.
  • Sprinkle a layer of sugar over a sheet of baking parchment. Toss the strips of peel in the sugar, a few at a time, then spread out and leave for 1 hr or so to air-dry.
  • And bang, your lovely little candied lemon peels are done. They will keep for 6 – 8 weeks in an airtight container when stored in a cool, dry place.
  • Now for your lemon drizzle – preheat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oC/Gas 4. Line the base of a 900g (2lb) non-stick loaf tin with baking parchment and butter the tin well. Finely grate the zest of the lemons.
  • Put 175g of the sugar in a food processor with the butter, flour, baking powder, eggs and lemon zest and blend on the pulse setting until the mixture is just combined and has a thick, smooth texture (just FYI I used a wooden spoon instead here and the world didn’t end, so don’t worry if you don’t have a processor).
  • Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for 35 minutes or until well risen and pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 5 minutes.
  • Squeeze one of the lemons to get about 3 tablespoons of juice and mix this with the remaining 100g of granulated sugar.
  • Turn the cake out onto a wire rack set about a tray or plate. Remove the baking parchment and gently turn the cake the right way up. Make about 50 deep holes in the top of the cake with a skewer. (I didn’t have a skewed so I improvised and used a parcel tag – is that even what they’re called?!?)
  • Slowly and gradually, spoon over half the lemon sugar, allowing it to thoroughly coat the top of the cake and drizzle down the sides. Leave the cake to stand for 5 minutes, then do the same with the remaining lemon sugar.
  • Leave to set for at least an hour or until the sugar and lemon has crystallised. Then decorate with your candied lemon peel as you like – I did a little criss-cross thing but you could always chop up the lemon peel and do a casual sprinkle.

Next time I think I’ll use something slightly thicker to make the holes in the cake so the lemon sugar can really soak deep into the cake. That said, it sold out very quickly at the bake sale so I was pretty pleased given I don’t bake an awful lot!

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