This coconut flour lemon cake is a low-carb, grain-free, and dairy-free version of a classic round lemon cake. It is infused with lemony flavour in the forms of acidic and bright lemon juice, and fragrant lemon zest.
How to Make Coconut Flour Lemon Cake
Start making this gluten free coconut flour lemon cake recipe by preheating your oven to 350°F. Next, you can grease an 8-inch, round cake pan with olive oil until it is thoroughly coated. While olive oil has a strong flavour, it is delicious in combination with lemon and works very well here. Later on, olive oil will go into the base of the lemon cake as well, and it helps keep the cake nice and fluffy.
To make unmolding later even easier, place a circle of parchment paper into the bottom of the greased pan.
Because this is a quick-to-make one-bowl batter, it is helpful to gather all your necessary ingredients before starting to mix up the lemon cake.
Mixing the Batter
1. To start making the batter for this lemon cake, simply whisk the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. I like to start by mixing the plant milk and lemon juice to make a sort of dairy-free buttermilk. The add the remaining gluten free ingredients like whole eggs, maple syrup or alternative, vanilla, and olive oil. For the plant milk, you may use whatever you like such as almond milk, soy milk, or cashew milk. However, if you are fine with dairy, you can include dairy milk instead.
2. You won't require a separate bowl for this coconut flour cake recipe as you can whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. These ingredients are coconut flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to weigh the coconut flour or measure correctly by gently spooning the flour into the measuring cup. Select "Metric" in the recipe box below for weight measurement in grams. Never dip the measuring cup into the flour, as this will compress it and you end up with way too much flour and a very dry cake batter.
3. At this point, whisk until the batter doesn't contain any lumps. It might be beneficial to whisk in the dry ingredients a little at a time to prevent the formation of lumps in the first place and create a smoother batter as well.
Baking the Coconut Flour Lemon Cake
4. To bake the gluten free lemon cake, pour the batter into the prepared pan. The batter will be loose enough to spread out in the pan on its own, so you won't have to smooth it out with a spatula.
The lemon cake should only require a total bake time of 25 to 30 minutes. You will know it is done when the edges turn golden brown, the top is opaque rather than shiny, and springs back to the touch when you press it. You can also insert a skewer or toothpick into it to see if wet or dry crumbs come out on it. If the crumbs are wet, you will know that the cake will need more time.
Unmolding the Lemon Cake
Once the gluten free cake is out of the oven, you should let it cool for at least 20 minutes. This will ensure the cake will have enough time to set up a little before you attempt to unmold it. The cake is quite delicate when it comes out of the oven and may break or crack if you attempt to unmold it too soon. You may want to run a spatula around the edges to loosen the cake from the pan before flipping it as well.
When unmolding the cake, I recommend that you place a large plate, wire rack or baking sheet on top of the cake pan before inverting it. Then, if all goes well, gravity should gently allow the cake to slip onto the plate or sheet and you can promptly remove the cake pan. If you used a parchment paper circle and it came out with the cake, gently peel it off the bottom of the lemon cake. Now, place your serving platter on the cake and invert again and remove the other plate or baking sheet. This way the lighter top side of the cake will be on top.
Serving the Coconut Flour Lemon Cake
This lemon coconut flour cake recipe is delicious on its own as the lemon flavour is so robust. However, if you would like to make it a little fancier, you could dust it with some icing sugar or serve it with a little sweetened coconut cream.
Another option would be to add a glaze to the cooled cake. To make a lemon glaze, you can mix powdered sugar with lemon juice until smooth before drizzling over the cake. The glaze will set at room temperature so you can leave it on the counter for some time before you cut the cake into slices. If you include the glaze, other optional garnishes would be some toasted coconut, sprinkles, or candied lemon peel as the glaze would help them adhere to the cake.
Do I Need to Use Fresh Lemons in this Cake?
While you may be inclined to use storebought lemon juice in your homemade baked goods or this cake with lemon because it has a longer shelf life, fresh lemons are irreplaceable in this cake. Their juice has just the right brightness and acidity to lift up the flavour of the cake, whereas storebought lemon juice can have a duller taste.
Moreover, this cake with lemon calls for lemon zest, which is essential for adding the sweet, fruity fragrance of lemon, which is not easy to achieve when you use lemon juice alone. A lot of the lemon flavor in lemon juice deteriorates when heated while baking. Whereas the citrus oils in the lemon peel are more heat stable, providing the cake with a rich lemon flavor even after baking.
If you buy a bag of lemons and have some left over, you can use them in many other dishes. Lemons are perfect for dessert recipes like cakes, cookies, quick breads, lemon curd, and lemon posset. They are also great in savoury dishes including dressings, marinades, fish dishes, pasta, hummus, and much more. It is always wonderful to have fresh lemons on hand when there are so many delicious culinary uses for them.
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RECIPE UPDATE MAY 2022:
To address several commenters whose cake and batter ended up too try, I have done some further side-by-side testing of different coconut flours and realized that certain brands (like the common Bob's Red Mill) seem extra thirsty and liquid absorbing. To adjust for this variance, I have reduced the coconut flour amount to ⅔ cups (from 1 cup) and changed the sweetener to ⅓ cup maple syrup to provide extra liquid (from ½ cup granulated sugar). If this recipe has worked well for you preciously with your coconut flour, you can keep using the original measurements.
If you have a less absorbent coconut flour, you may need to add anywhere from 2-5 more tablespoons of coconut flour. Once you finished stirring up the batter and it is still very thin and runny, stir in 1 more tablespoon of coconut flour at a time until the batter has thickened but is still somewhat pourable.
I personally love A de Coco brand coconut flour - a Mexican brand unfortunately not yet widely available in the US. It seems finer/less gritty to me and has a not as crazy rate of liquid absorbency.
Coconut Flour Lemon Cake
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk or regular milk
- ⅛ cup lemon juice
- 4 eggs
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup maple syrup or sugar-free alternative or ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ⅔ cup coconut flour + 2-5 tablespoon extra flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with olive oil. For easier unmolding, place a parchment paper circle into the bottom of the pan.
- Stir together the almond milk and lemon juice, and set aside to thicken for a few minutes. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and the almond milk + lemon juice mix.
- Then whisk in the coconut flour, baking powder, salt and the lemon zest.
- Whisk until the batter becomes smooth and free of lumps. Depending on your brand of coconut flour, if your batter is still very thin and runny, add more coconut flour 1 tablespoon at a time (anywhere from 2-5 tablespoons) until it is thicker but still somewhat pourable***
- Then transfer the batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Bake the coconut flour lemon cake for about 25 to 30 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before unmolding and slicing it.