Gluten-free Lemon and Orange Cake

gluten free lemon cake 2

Do you ever put your cake in the oven with a heavy heart, certain that what you’ve made is a disaster, only to be pleasantly surprised when serving up?

Last week I was baking a cake for my hubby’s birthday. He’d requested lemon. “Great, I love lemon cake.” I thought to myself. However, it turned out things weren’t going to be as simple as I hoped.

  • Problem #1: It’s the middle of summer here in New Zealand and lemons are ludicrously expensive. $9 for a bag from our budget chain supermarket, Pak ‘n’ Save? No thank you! I ended up stealing some from my parents’ fruit bowl. Mwah ha ha.
  • Problem #2: It was going to be served to the rest of his family, including gluten-intolerant and coeliac in-laws.
  • Problem #3: My darling doesn’t like nuts, so that ruled out the classic citrus and almond meal gluten-free option. Normally I wouldn’t pander to his silly nutty preferences (seriously, nuts = good!), but seeing as it was for his birthday, I thought I should probably oblige him this time.

So, after a brief google search, I found a promising looking recipe on Jamie Oliver’s website. Amazingly, I had xanthan gum, so I was feeling pretty positive. Until I encountered….

  • Problem #4: We don’t seem to have golden caster sugar here in New Zealand. Our main sugar supplier (Chelsea Sugar) recommends making a substitution by pulsing raw sugar in a food processor until the grains are finer. Unfortunately my food processor is pretty pathetic, so this didn’t work overly well. End result: gritty sugar in my batter. Boo.
  • Problem #5: While preparing my cake I realised that my baking powder contained gluten, so all these struggles were for nothing, they weren’t going to be able to eat the bloody thing anyway!!!

Anyway, I proceeded to make the cake and serve it up, and it turned out pretty well! I was pleasantly surprised. So much so, that I thought it was worth uploading…

Gluten free lemon cake 1

Obviously, the minute amount of gluten was still a slight problem, but most of us could enjoy it. I made a few modifications. It didn’t need to be dairy-free, so I used butter instead of margarine. Also, I made more of an icing than a drizzle. To do so, I just kept combining icing sugar and juice until I got the consistency I wanted. I think it would have been about 200-250g of icing sugar.

gluten free lemon cake 3

Gluten-free Lemon and Orange Cake


For cake:

  • 300g butter (at room temperature)
  • 300g gluten-free plain flour
  • 300g golden caster sugar (or raw sugar pulsed in the food processor)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 lemons (zest of 2, juice of 1)
  • 1 orange (zest of 1,  juice of 1/2)
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum

For icing:

  • 1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1/2 orange (zest and juice)
  • 200g icing sugar (or enough to make the icing to the consistency you desire)


  1. Preheat oven to 190°C.
  2. Prepare a square 20cm cake tin with baking paper on the base and greased sides, dusted with gluten-free flour.
  3. If you don’t have golden caster sugar, blitz raw sugar in a food processor to get the grains a bit finer.
  4. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Add zest and mix.
  6. Sift in flour, baking powder and xanthan gum, and fold together until just combined.
  7. Add the juice and combine until smooth.
  8. Pour into tin and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden and skewer comes out clean.
  9. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. To make icing, sift icing sugar into a bowl and add the zest. Add lemon and orange juice until you get the desired consistency. Pour over cooled cake and top with a little extra zest.

gluten free lemon cake 4


3 thoughts on “Gluten-free Lemon and Orange Cake”

      1. Hey Rebecca, what a lovely name 🙂
        That Gluten-free Lemon and Orange Cake is super delish, needa try ASAP. Thanks!


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