Easy vegan lemon olive oil cake using only 6 key ingredients and 1 bowl. This cake is fluffy, tender and light and perfect for Spring!
I love light and zesty cakes like these which aren't too sweet (but sweet enough to be called dessert). This cake has a similar flavor profile to my vegan lemon poppy seed muffins, vegan lemon cake and lemon drizzle cake.
Key ingredients you'll need
Like the majority of my recipes, this vegan lemon cake uses only common ingredients including:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil adds moisture and flavor. Some types of olive oils are sweet while others are a little peppery so your cake will adopt the flavor of your particular oil.
Lemon juice and zest and lots of it for extra zing! Lemon juice is acidic so reacts with the dairy-free milk to make buttermilk which makes a cake more tender :). I used fresh lemon juice but bottled will also work.
A complete list of ingredients, quantities and instructions are in the gray recipe card at the bottom of this post.
How to prepare the batter
Like the majority of my cakes, you'll only need 1 mixing bowl to make this lemon olive oil cake! I loathe doing dishes so the less bowls/equipment, the better :).
Simply add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and mix until combined. Add all the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. The final batter should be a little runny without any lumps of flour or streaks of wet ingredients. Alternatively, you may use a stand mixer or hand mixer but be careful to not overmix the batter!
Pour the cake batter into an 8-inch (20 cm) lined loaf pan and bake it in your preheated oven. So so easy! Your house will smell wonderful when the cake is ready to remove from the oven.
How to decorate this cake
This vegan lemon loaf is lovely with a simple powdered sugar icing which is made from only 2 ingredients. It sets at room temperature and doesn't collapse at room temperature for long periods of time (like buttercream does).
For a more decadent lemon cake, you can top it with a lemon buttercream frosting or cream cheese frosting (such as from my ginger cake recipe).
Alternatively, you can skip the icing and enjoy the vegan lemon cake plain, with berries or a light dusting of powdered sugar. This makes the cake a little less sweet!
Customizing this cake
For a less sweet cake, I'd recommend enjoying the cake without the icing (or with some powdered sugar on top).
The sugar can be slightly reduced to 1 cup (200g) in this recipe. However, I wouldn't strongly recommend it because the sugar adds moisture and balances out the sour lemon flavor and slight bitterness from the zest.
You can use coconut sugar in this vegan lemon loaf but it changes the flavor profile. Imagine eating a lemony caramel cake! I haven't tested this cake with alternatives such as monk fruit sweetener or erythritol.
I don't ever recommend baking vegan sponge cakes using a liquid sweetener. This will make a cake too heavy and dense.
Yes, check out the notes in the gray recipe box at the bottom of this post
No, you don't haaavvvee to! The lemon zest adds a complexity of flavor and an extra lemon punch. For a more mild lemon flavor, omit the zest.
Yes, but I'd recommend using my lemon blueberry cake recipe. The recipe is similar to this olive oil cake but the batter is thicker so the blueberries don't sink!
More vegan citrus desserts
Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cake
Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cake
- 2 ½ cups (315g) all-purpose plain flour, (note 1 for gluten free)
- 1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of any good quality salt, optional
- 1 cup (250g) dairy-free milk
- ½ cup (125g) extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup (80g) lemon juice and zest, (about 2-3 lemons)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
To make the cake:
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (355°F). Line an 8 inch (20 cm) loaf tin with parchment paper.
- Add all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) to a large mixing bowl. Mix until there are no lumps. Add all the wet ingredients (milk, oil, lemon juice/zest and vanilla) and mix until smooth.
- Pour the lemon cake batter into your prepared loaf tin. Smooth the surface if necessary.
- Bake the cake for 1 hour or until you can poke a skewer in the middle and there's no wet batter on it. As this is a moist cake, some crumbs on your skewer are fine.
- Allow the cake to cool in the loaf tin for 10 minutes then cool on a wire rack.
To make the icing:
- Add the lemon juice and sugar to a medium bowl and mix until smooth. Add more lemon juice (or dairy free milk) for a thinner icing or more powdered sugar for a thicker icing.
- Drizzle the icing over your cooled cake. If desired, top the cake with berries just before serving.
- Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or in the fridge for up to 3 days. The cake can be stored without the icing in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- To make this vegan lemon cake gluten-free, substitute the plain flour for 1 ⅔ cups (165g) almond flour and 1 cup (160g) gluten-free all-purpose flour.
- Alternatively, you can enjoy the cake plain, topped with fresh berries or a light dusting of powdered / icing sugar.
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