Vegan Lemon Cake made with healthy wholesome ingredients. This cake is so fresh and lemony and the perfect sponge texture. It is light, low-fat and made with only 8 ingredients!
Nothing says Spring more than lemon cake, am I right? I originally had a savory recipe planned for this week but then it hit me that Easter is this Sunday, so I knew I needed to get this Vegan Lemon Cake posted just in time for Easter!
This cake was a reader request from 2 different readers. When a reader requests cake, you dont need to tell me twice. Thank you both for your patience, I know its been awhile.
Unlike traditional lemon cakes that are filled with butter and white flour, this one is made with whole wheat pastry flour (my favorite flour ever) and brown rice flour for the perfect texture, natural sweetener like maple syrup (except the glaze) and applesauce and fresh lemon juice instead of oil. Dont worry though, it is still every bit as delicious.
Another bonus? This cake is not only incredibly delicious, bright and lemony, it is also low-fat! Whatttt. Yup, just like myGingerbread Cake. That one has so many 5 star reviews and has become mymost popular cake on the blogand its low-fat guys. Not even 1 gram of fat per slice, the hefty slices too, based on 9 slices. Not those miniature 16 slices. Well, here is another one for you. Im telling you, fat is notalwaysneeded for incredible dessert and these cakes prove it. My focus is not to make them low-fat, it is just what it is.
Wanna know just how delicious it is? Well, when I made it, there was 2 slices missing out of the dish for taking my photos. I had to leave and upon my return, my daughter and hubby had eaten almost the WHOLE thing, there was only two slices left. TWO. I had never seen so much dessert devoured after I left the house, hahaha. So, I asked my daughter if she thought it was delicious. She told me it was not only delicious, but it was AMAZING and she literally shouted it. So funny. My husband ate 3 pieces. Yall, Ive told you before he isnota dessert person, so this totally shocked me, but he does love lemon.
This cake is fluffy, soft, springy, spongy and perfectly moist. The glaze on top soaks into part of the cake and just makes it magically moist and a perfect slice of lemon heaven. Oh boy, my mouth is watering thinking of another piece.
To make this Vegan Lemon Cake, you will need just 8 ingredients,includingthe glaze (+salt): Is this a crazy easy and simple cake or what?
That perfect cake texture. I love you.
So, run now and go make this or I guess you can wait until Easter Sunday if you want. I cant wait to hear what you think of it!
Vegan Lemon Cake made with healthy wholesome ingredients. This cake is so fresh and lemony and the perfect sponge texture. It is light, low-fat and made with only 8 ingredients!
1 1/2 cups (192g) whole wheat pastry flour, not plain whole wheat (can sub with regular all-purpose flour) SEE NOTE at bottom for GF
6 tablespoons (60g) brown rice flour
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (200g) pure maple syrup
1/2 cup (120g) fresh lemon juice and zest of one large lemon (about a tsp)
1/2 cup (120g) unsweetened applesauce
3 teaspoons (15g) fresh lemon juice
NOTE: As always, I recommend a scale for accuracy. It is so important with baking to ensure the best results, even being off 1 tablespoon of flour can affect the result when measuring, so a scale makes baking a breeze. For the glaze, I really love the classic flavor and texture from powdered sugar, so I make an exception sometimes for this sugar. If you, however, really dont want to use it, you can sub with coconut sugar, but I would strongly suggest to process it into a fine powder first, as it is very gritty. This will of course change the flavor, texture and color of the glaze, but should still be yum.
Preheat an oven to 350F (177C) and spray an 8×8 square baking dish with nonstick spray and place a square piece of parchment paper on the bottom. Have your pan ready BEFORE you make the batter because you will want to put it in the oven right away because it is a bubbly batter and the baking soda starts working immediately once the liquids hit the dry.
To a large bowl, add the pastry flour, brown rice flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt and whisk very well.
To a medium bowl, combine the maple syrup, lemon juice and zest and applesauce and stir until mixed.
Make a well at the bottom of the dry ingredients and pour the liquids into the large bowl. Now, gently and slowly, use a large whisk to mix the ingredients around the bowl and from the bottom, being very careful to be gentle and mix just until it is mixed and smooth. Do not overmix. You will notice how light and fizzy the batter gets from the baking soda and lemon juice working. This is what yields a fluffy cake. If you overmix it, it can make the cake more tough/chewy and the middle sink, especially since it is a low-fat cake.
Pour the batter gently into the dish and lightly spread out the top. Pick it up and jiggle it a bit to smooth it out. Immediately put in the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes until a toothpick is clean from the center. Mine was perfection at 24 minutes.
I know its hard, but allow the cake to cool 45 minutes. This will allow it to finish cooking and cool before adding the glaze.
Once the cake has cooled, make the glaze by adding the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk very well until smooth. If your sugar is really lumpy, use a strainer to break up the lumps. Pour the glaze over the middle of the cake and smooth it out over the top. I like to pick up the pan and gently tilt it side to side until the glaze naturally covers the whole surface. Allow it to soak into the cake for about 10 minutes or so, this will help add more moisture, which we want since it is low-fat. Then you can place it into the fridge to speed up the firming of the glaze for a few minutes. Slice and top with pretty lemon slices if desired for presentation!
Keep the cake covered and stored at room temperature to retain its moisture best, but it does ok in the fridge.
To make this gluten-free, sub the pastry flour with superfine oat flour, the same weight amount (192g) and all the rest of the ingredients are the same. Please note that this version is not as light or fluffy and a bit flatter and more dense, but still really delicious! Also, spelt flour works well in place of the pastry flour also, just use the same weight amount. Just make sure the center toothpick is fully clean and let it cool a full hour, as oat cakes are a better texture the longer they cool. Only use this version if you are allergic to gluten, since the above version is best.
Nutrition per slice: 226 calories .7g fat 2.8g protein 51.7g carbs 2.7g fiber 27.4g sugar 345mg sodium
Cuisines :AmericanCourses :DessertDiet :vegetarianVeganAllergy :dairy freeegg freesoy freepeanut freetreenut freesesame free18.104.22.16845The Vegan 8
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Hi Brandi…. do you think I could add a cup of blueberries or would it not bake up? Thanks! I just love lemon and blueberries together!
I would think so- just toss them in flour so they wont sink to the bottom of the cake (flour helps them from sliding down from all the moisture). Im making this tomorrow with blueberries so hopefully I will report back!
This is getting back to the issue of blueberries. I was wondering if the frozen wild blueberries (smaller than fresh) would work or if they would add too much moisture to the cake. On the other hand, I was considering dried blueberries, but wonder if, because they are dried, they would rob the cake of moisture. They could be reconstituted by soaking in water. Want to make this for a family party. Brenda and Lauren who inquired about blueberries got me thinking, probably too much!
Hi Angela! Actually I have another reader who did in fact make this a few times with blueberries and loved it! I would add a handful of blueberries to the batter and if using the frozen, just blot off the excess ice if needed.
Hi Brenda! Definitely! As long as that center toothpick is clean, its cooked through. I dont think it would make it too wet since its really a nice, fluffy cake, not an overly moist cake so I think it would be good. Let me know how it goes!
I would use fresh though, not frozen or it will make the cake too wet/dense I think.
Great thank you!!!! I will let you know how it turns out!!!!
Oooh!!! I think Ill be making htis tomorrow!!! How essential is the brown rice flour? Can I use regular flour instead? I just dont have any on hand so it would be easier not to have to go buy a bag. Thanks for this perfectly timed lemon delight!
Hi Sarah, I am not sure. I like to add brown rice flour because it makes for a more tender cake. But you can try using all regular flour (still use the cornstarch) and use 240 grams of the white flour. I hope the cake doesnt end up too chewy. Since it is a lower fat cake, the brown rice flour helps it to be more tender, so let me know how it turns out if you use all white flour!
Thanks for the explanation – and so quick! I htink I may just have to pick up some brown rice flour since it seems quite essential. I am so excited about this cake! Ive been craving a maple lemon cake so this seems liek it will be perfect!!!
You are so welcome! Yes, its so worth it! And I have more recipes (and will continue to) that use brown rice flour, so you will get use out of it, haha. I also have this Gingerbread cake that uses it and also my most popular Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Looks delightful. I will be trying the GF option, and will need to sub arrowroot for the cornstarch…will also do my glaze in coconut sugar…but a delightful cake, Im sure. Ill also try the blueberry addition at some point as well, as I do enjoy blueberries and lemon together also. Thank you for this recipe idea. Blessings!
Cant wait to hear LynneDe! Arrowroot tends to make things more chewy, so hopefully it doesnt alter the texture too much!
Is it possible to make brown rice flour by putting brown rice through the blender?
Hi Marie, I have never tried that personally so I dont know. If you have a Vitamix, it might get it superfine, but not sure! It needs to be superfine though for the cake. If that doesnt work, most stores sell it for just a few dollars.
Speaking of pastry flour…😉 Ah may this epic Brandi dessert streak never end! Actually it just keeps getting better and better–lemon + fluffy + glazed + purple pan, I am so in love with everything happening here. If I had been at your house there would not have even been those two slices left. Your gingerbread cake is one of the best cakes Ive ever eaten (vegan or not) and this one looks just as wonderful plus one of my other all time favorite flavors. Forget peanut butter eggs and carrot things, this is all I need for Easter. That glaze is so simple and perfect too, although lack of glaze would not stop me from devouring multiple pieces in no time. Always gotta include the oat flour option before twenty seven people ask ha, but it really does make everything more dense and chewy. Not bad just not ideal for CAKE🙌 Well thanks for making me crave cake for dinner😂 Happy Easter, Brandi!
Haha, I know, that pastry flour is something else…magical I say. I use it in a couple of recipes in my cookbook too. Ive been using it for so many years now and honestly prefer the texture over regular all-purpose. It makes for a better, tender texture. Haha, you know what is so funny about that yellow and lavender combo…I didnt realize this until you mentioned it but in my hubby and Is first house, I chose that color combo for our vender and yellow towels and everything and it was so pretty and bright and fresh but my hubby HATED IT, hahahaha! Aww thanks girl, Im so thankful you loved that cake. It truly is one of the best cakes Ive ever eaten in my life too, but I have 2 more in the book that give it a run for its money, haha. I still need to try your carrot cake!! And hey cake for dinner…breakfast…Ive done that before, lol!
Im from Australia and we dont have pastry flour, only plain or self-raising. Would you suggest using the self-raising? Im not sure if thats what you mean by pastry flour. P.S. we can buy pastry flour here in the specialty aisles but its imported and Id rather support our struggling wheat farmers here if possible. 😊
Definitely dont use self-raising, just use plain white flour instead of the pastry and that will work!
Can you sub white rice flour for the brown rice flour?? I feel like thats a no, I just dont have any on hand!
Hi Kathryn! No, definitely use brown, the white will make it too dense and chewy/gooey in this cake. The brown works some magic! I have several recipes that use brown rice flour so its a great investment and its very inexpensive too 🙂
Tonight I did a trial run of this Lemon cake from thevegan8 for a birthday tomorrow. That first bite OMG we thought we died and went to Heaven. If youve ever had the cake at Starbucks, this is Soooo much better. Its lemony and sweet and scrumptious and luscious. I could say a few other more adult terms but we will leave it at that. Im sorry Brandi but this is better than the Gingerbread cake and that was a favorite. How do you keep impressing us? I just love your talent. Now go make this peeps!
Woohoo, that was the best and funniest review ever, hahaha! adult terms LOL. Love it! So glad this was loved by all and thank you so much for leaving the awesome review!
This cake was delicious! Will be trying a few variations with this recipe. Thank you for sharing, Brandi!
Yay Sue! SO happy to hear that! Thank you for the review!
Looks good, but this was the best way I knew to get in touch with you about the screening country wide of Eating You Alive on thursday April 5. I saw you in one of the trailers. Wouldnt you like to let all your followers know about this. I only found out yesterday because of getting an email from Dr. McDougall. Im going and taking three others! Eating You Alive, the documentary which dramatically shows reversal of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease and other chronic diseases, will be screened in approximately 600 theaters across the country for a one night special event. This will be the largest theatrical exhibition of a plant-based film in history and we invite you to be a part of it. This film speaks to all three prongs of the plant based fork – the benefits to health (disease reversal), a more compassionate world for all living creatures, and a sustainable, healthy environment. We have seen first-hand the impact the film has had on audiences and believe that the April 5th Eating You Alive event can be a huge catalyst for massive change at the most critical level — with every human being. Wont you join us in the effort to make this a historical moment in the plant based mission? Go to /locations to find a theater near you, and be sure to buy advance tickets — theaters are selling out!
Hi Carol, yes, Ive made announcements on Facebook about it! Its definitely a fabulous film for sure! Very inspiring!
Eating You Alive is actually how I found out about this website! I was looking for that alfredo sauce that you demo in the film. It was delicious, and I have also tried the four-ingredient peanut butter cookies, which were a huge hit and SO easy. Im having a sweet tooth issue today, so tonight Im planning on making this lemon cake and maybe the chocolate chip cookies too. Im really glad to have found your website. So far, these have been easy to follow recipes with a small amount of ingredients. I also completely appreciate that you follow the plant-based vegan plan, using no oil and not a ton of sugar. Thank you for helping us to live healthier and more delicious lives!!
Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much for such a wonderful kind message! So happy you found me and are enjoying the recipes so far! This cake has been a big hit with readers so I hope you love it!!
YUM. SO GOOD. Thank you, Brandi! Im going to try a lime version next!!
Yay Callie! Im so happy to hear that!!
Can I sub arrowroot for the cornstarch? If so how much? If not, what else is a good sub for the cornstarch? Thanks!!
Hi Nini! The best sub would be potato starch (not potato flour) rather than arrowroot, which tends to make things too tough/chewy. Let me know!
I made this the same day that it was posted because the recipe was SO simple and it looked too good not to try immediately. My husband was very skeptical of lemon cake (as he is not a huge lemon or cake fan). But he ate HALF of the cake the first night and the rest the next day! When I asked him if he liked it, his response was Its addicting! You need to make this for my moms birthday! Ha! I thought it was great too! The glaze on top is a perfect combination of lemony sweet and when it soaks into the top layer of cake…Im drooling just thinking about it!
Haha, I love this feedback, made me laugh because my husband did the same thing! So glad it was such a hit, especially for a non-lemon fan! Thank you so much Shaina for leaving the review, I really appreciate it!
Awesome and so easy to make! My whole family loved it!
Yay! Thrilled to hear that Jen, thank you so much for the lovely review!
It was delicious. Be sure and weigh all of the ingredients.
Thank you Linda, so glad you loved it!
Hi! First of all, this looks incredible! I just wanted to ask a few questions regarding the flours- what role does brown rice flour play in the texture? Same with the cornstarch, will tapioca starch work? Do they make it rise/denser/fluffier/lighter… etc.? You seem to be a genius in the kitchen haha so I would just like for some of your council!
Hi Philia! Haha, aww thank you 🙂 The brown rice flour is very important, as it helps to keep the cake tender and from being too chewy/dense. Using all white flour for this cake, since its so low-fat, makes it more of a chewy texture because of the gluten. So, adding a bit of brown rice flour (has no gluten) makes up for that, resulting in the absolute best cake texture! The cornstarch produces the fluff and structure that eggs would normally give. It is my favorite egg replacer. Tapioca starch results in much chewier, almost gummy results in cakes in my opinion. I dont like it. I will use it in muffins in combination with other flours, but its not a good idea with this cake. Cornstarch, or even potato starch (though havent tested the potato) are the best starches here. I did test it with all-purpose flour in place of the brown rice flour and it was still certainly good, but the texture I wasnt crazy about, not nearly as amazing at the brown rice flour. I hope all of that helps some!
Absolutely loved this recipe! It has a nice tang to it and a lovely texture. My family loved it and so do I and I will for sure be making it again 🙂
So awesome Mia! So happy your whole family loved it! Thank you for the review!
Wow, your vegan lemon cake looks incredible, Brandi!! So moist and fluffy! Beautiful photos 🙂
This is a really good lemon cake, it was very lemony and tart. I used Bobs Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free baking mix and it was a bit chewy, which I didnt mind. Next time, I will use all brown rice flour. I try to avoid refined sugar, so I made an icing by whipping room temp Tofutti cream cheese with some lemon juice, zest and maple syrup. Totally delicious!
Yay! So glad you loved it so much Tom! Yes, that gluten-free blend contains white rice and xanthan gum so it will result in a chewy cake here, but still glad to hear it worked out well and you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for the awesome review!
Lemon cake is my absolute favorite kind of cake. And I have not been able to find one that is as good as my grandmothers. Until now!! This was the best lemon cake Ive had, and Ive had my fair share. I didnt have brown rice flour and was so impatient to make this cake. So, I decide to make my own brown rice flour with my vitamix. It worked perfectly. Ill be making this cake again and again for every occasion! My family and I thank you! Much love!
Wow, yay! That is the best feedback ever Desiree! As good as your grandmothers?! Wow, and grandmas are the ultimate bakers and Im sure hers had eggs and butter in it too! SO happy to hear this was the best youve had, you totally made my day!
Would love to make this sweet looking cake. Regarding the brown rice flour, I was wondering if I could substitute with any of the following flours I have in my freezer: quinoa, millet, garbanzo, almond or spelt. As you can guess, I am not looking forward to getting yet another flour for just 6 tablespoons. Thank you so much.
Hi Angela, you can try spelt. I use brown rice flour in a lot of my recipes, so its definitely a good investment and its very inexpensive. I use it because of the amazing texture and fluffiness it adds to this cake. If you dont want to purchase it, you can try using spelt in place of it, but just know that the texture will be a bit less fluffy and slightly more chewy, not as perfect of a cake texture, but should still be good.
Well I caved and bought the brown rice flour. Love the cake. Whether youre a vegan or not its it doesnt matter its so good. I love that I can have a piece a cake using a nutritious sweetener, with no oil or eggs. My question is can I double the recipe to put it in a 13 inch pan? Would love to take this to a family gathering, and dont wanna make two separate ones. Thank you. Dont forget to give us more recipes with brown rice flour so I can use mine up.
Hi Angela! Oh, Im so thrilled you got the flour and loved the cake so much. See, I told you it would be worth it, haha 🙂 Oh yes, I actually have other recipes that use brown rice flour AND there are some in the cookbook as well. Here are my most popular chocolate chip cookies that use brown rice flour: I have not tried doubling the cake recipe but believe that should work. Just make sure the center toothpick is clean and I think it should be fine.
This other reviewer made her own brown rice flour. see copy below DESIREE Lemon cake is my absolute favorite kind of cake. And I have not been able to find one that is as good as my grandmothers. Until now!! This was the best lemon cake Ive had, and Ive had my fair share. I didnt have brown rice flour and was so impatient to make this cake. So, I decide to make my own brown rice flour with my vitamix. It worked perfectly. Ill be making this cake again and again for every occasion! My family and I thank you! Much love!
My meyer lemon tree has exploded so Ive literally been baking up a lemon circus over here! So many recipe experiments with lemon! Your cake looks delicious and perfect for spring…so Im going to take lemon cake off my list of recipes to create. And save a few of my lemons to give this one a try instead! Wish you lived closer so I could pawn off some of these lemons on you!!
Lemon cake really is the perfect thing for Spring! I wish I could have some of your lemons too, although I have a billion of them here, haha!
Okay, this is amazing cake! I made the GF version (although back in the good old days, whole wheat pastry flour was my favorite too!!) and its still pretty fluffy!
Yay, thank you Thera! Im so happy to hear you loved the cake! Thank you for the review!
We shared it at church today and a professional chef was telling my husband how good it was, not knowing who had made it. (I used a date-sweetened cashew-lemon frosting, which matched the cakes flavor really well.)
That is so awesome to hear Thera!! What a wonderful review! Thank you so much for making it 🙂
Has anyone tried making these in cupcake form?
Not that I know of, but Im sure it would work, just may take more around 20 minutes, just look for a clean toothpick!
Excellent cake I changed the glaze a bit, I kept tasting the confectioner sugar so I added 4 tablespoons of canned coconut and took away that powdered sugar taste Ssssssooooooo gooood
Wonderful Joyce, Im so glad you enjoyed it!
I would like to make the cake a little larger to take to a barbecue. Can I double it for a 9 x 13 pan? I should think that would work. Any other adjustments you can think of? Thank you so much for taking time to answer this and all the other questions your followers have.
Hi Angela, yes, I think that should work. It will I believe make the cake taller so should take longer to cook. Just make sure the toothpick is clean from the center.
I made this today. My family loved it. The texture is amazing. Im curious about subbing something for the maple syrup. Yum. Thank you!
So glad your family loved it Jenna! The syrup is the sweetener and needed as a liquid so there isnt really a sub. You could try agave but there is no other liquid sub that would work that well.
I recently moved to a higher altitude so Im having to learn to bake differently– I decided to make baked donuts instead of a cake with this recipe, hoping the smaller area of baking would help with the altitude effect. THEY ARE SO GOOD!!! I love this recipe so much I made it 3 times within 2 weeks. Let me mention: I live alone. ha ha! Im about to bake more right now- theyre so yummy and easy! Thanks, Brandi!
Thank you so much Liz for this amazing review! Im so happy to hear how much you love the cake, yay!
My cholesterol needs to come down you dont list amount of cholesterol in this recipe but with no egg or oil I assume this is ok for me I have been searching for vegan recipes and yours sound like they will help me thank you for the work that you put into this and for them being free . God bless.
Hi Barbara! There is no cholesterol listed because there is no cholesterol in the recipes. None of my recipes have cholesterol in them because they are plant-based. Only animal products have cholesterol in them. That doesnt mean your body cant have high cholesterol on a vegan diet from high fat foods or saturated fats from oils which can raise the cholesterol levels in your body, which is why I do my best to avoid them, but the recipes themselves do not in fact contain cholesterol naturally. Meats and cheeses have high cholesterol in them, so its best to avoid them for better health. This cake is one of the healthiest you can find since it is so low fat and no oils. It of course does have sweetener though, so not a health food but definitely healthier than most cakes, but still incredibly delicious. Just make sure to weigh the ingredients.
Wow. Just wow. I normally never leave comments on recipe blogs but damn this cake was incredible. I was pretty wary because I have tried a couple of oil-free recipes before and they always turned out kinda gummy or dry but the texture looked so perfect on the pics that I had to give it a chance. It was quite the ordeal to find brown rice flour in my town + it was pretty expensive but it was SO worth it. The cake turned out moist but still fluffy and indistinguishable from a cake with oil. I will definitely be making this again and Im excited to try more of your recipes 🙂
Wow Kitty, your review really made my day! Thank you so so much for this amazing feedback! SO happy you loved it so much and I know what you mean about oil-free recipes tasting gummy or dry and bad, that is why I love creating oil-free cakes for people so they can see just how delicious they truly are and can be! Thank you again 🙂 As far as the rice flour, if you have a strong blender like a vitamix, a few readers have had success just grinding up dry brown rice into a fine flour and then measuring 🙂
Hey There, Would spelt flour work in place of the WW pastry flour? Thanks so much 🙂
Hi Laura! Spelt will likely make the cake more crumbly and dense since pastry flour gives better structure and rise to cakes. It will not rise as well. You are welcome to try it, but I cant guarantee the results without having tested it myself. Im pretty sure it would give similar results as the oat flour, which is a more dense cake, but still tasty. Let me know if you try it.
Hi Laura, fyi, I tested it today with spelt and its delicious! You can sub but the pastry and the brown rice flour for spelt flour, which is 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons, which would be 240g. Make sure to use a scale for accurate results. The cake was still delicious and moist, just slightly more dense than the pastry version. Also, since spelt has a stronger taste than