Starbucks’ Lemon Loaf Cake

by Barry Lewis


For the lemon cake:

180g plain flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon bicarbonate soda

Pinch of salt

120g butter, room temperature

200g sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

1tbsp lemon extract

Zest of 1 lemon

80ml buttermilk

For the caramelised lemon zest:

1 lemon

50g caster sugar

1 tbsp granulated sugar

For the lemon glaze:

1 cup icing sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

I’d like to dedicate this recipe to all the people who like to sit in Starbucks with their laptops and pencil cases having a spreadsheet-off!

Recipe clones are some of my favourite videos to make because who doesn’t love making an awesome recipe at home that’s even better and cheaper than the original in your own home? I do, that’s for sure! If you like the look of this one, you might like my homemade Krispy Kreme donuts, or for something similar but more of a tropical vibe, the lime and passionfruit drizzle cake from my cookbook (yep, I really do have one – errr, two actually!) is an absolute winner.

But on with today’s recipe! The Starbucks’ lemon loaf cake is a proper classic British recipe, even more with the lovely drizzley glaze on the top. With a sprinkle of caramelised lemon zest on top too, well, you just can’t go wrong! The US version of this has a pretty spectacular band of thick lemony icing across the top, so now I’m intrigued, is this the same everywhere and are we just different?! Let me know how it looks wherever you are in the world!

Can you believe that the ingredients to make this entire loaf cost almost the same as the single slice you buy at Starbucks?! If that doesn’t convince you to make it at home, Mrs B’s taste test surely will. Watch the video now to find out how my version went – it’s not an exact clone – maybe some less vibrant eggs might have helped with that – but it’s still bloomin’ tasty! When life gives you lemons, make lemon cake…or something like that!

Homemade Starbucks Lemon Loaf Cake

First we’re going to make a lovely cake. Start off by preheating your oven to 350F/gas mark 4/180C/160C fan.

Pass your flour and baking powder through a sieve, and your salt if you feel that’s necessary! 

In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until it looks a little bit like fluffy scrambled eggs. Crack in the eggs, the zest of the lemon and the lemon extract, then give it a good whisk together.

Now you’re going to fold in (like bedsheets!), the flour mixture and buttermilk.

Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin for about 50-60 minutes. You can check it’s cooked through with a toothpick or skewer when that time is up.

Now we’re going to make the caramelised lemon zest, which I’m pretty sure is just a glorified way of saying candied peel! Now in this very ap-peel-ing step, we’re going to peel the lemon zest then chop the strips into little pieces.

Heat the caster sugar, water and lemon juice in a pan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, then add your zest and let it bubble away for about 10 minutes. Strain the lemon zest from the syrup and leave to dry on a tray – lined with a Barry Lewis baking mat for 3% better results!

Normally here I’d recommend poking holes in the top of your lemon loaf while it’s still in the tin and letting it soak up all the lemony syrupy goodness, but I didn’t get that vibe from the Starbucks’ Lemon Loaf. So instead, remove this one from the tin, and let’s make the icing.

Squeeze another half of a lemon into a bowl of icing sugar, then give it a little top up with a tablespoon of water. Other versions of this cake have a thick band of icing across the top, but this is more like a glaze, so whisk this up and pour it through a sieve (optional!) into a jug.

With your loaf cake on a rack above a tray (to catch all the excess icing), drizzle over the delicious lemon glaze.

Finally, mix the candied lemon peel with granulated sugar to give it a little texture, then make it rain that zesty caramelised lemon all over the cake. Slice, and enjoy!

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