Spelt Lemon Drizzle Cake


Do you like lemons? I like lemons!  Whether it’s sweet or savoury, the taste of lemon can give a dish the perfect lift that makes it go from good to woohoo.

When we were last in the UK my mother in law, B, made a cake I really liked. A Lemon Drizzle Cake, lovely and moist with just the right amount of lemoniness. It’s the type of cake that is nothing special to look at, it’s all in the texture and flavour.

The trip was in late 2010 and I’ve only now got my hand on the recipe.  This turned out to be fortuitous because last night Jamie Oliver tweeted his Nan’s Lemon Drizzle Cake and it gave me a great opportunity to compare recipes. You might think that I am somewhat biased toward family, and ordinarily you would be correct, but being a huge Jamie Oliver fan this was going to make me reasonably objective.

B’s cake is pretty straight forward: Butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, lemon rind, milk. Bake. Drizzle with syrup.

Jamie’s Nan’s cake is more complex adding almond meal, poppy seeds and an icing after the drizzle.

Obviously the only way to compare the two would be to make both and taste. Right?  Well yes, in theory that would be the right thing to do but since I wanted to use spelt flour in B’s recipe and I am new to using spelt flour I had no idea how it would go with almond meal.  So I did the next best thing, I baked B’s cake and looked at the gazillion comments on Jamie’s site to see what people thought of his Nan’s version.


4oz (120g) butter
6 oz (180g) caster sugar
6 oz (180g) white spelt flour
2 1/2 level teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
grated zest and juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons
2 1/2 fl oz (80ml) milk
3 extra tablespoons sugar


  • Preheat oven to 180° C/ 350°F /gasmark 4
  • Cream butter with sugar till white, add eggs and beat till fluffy.
  • Sift flour and baking powder into the wet mix.
  • Stir until combined – don’t over work it.
  • Add zest and milk.
  • Mix until all combined.
  • Pour into greased and floured cake tin.
  • Bake for 40 – 50 minutes.
  • Cool in tin for a few minutes then turn out.
  • Mix lemon juice with 3 tablespoons of sugar, stir until dissolved.
  • Poke all over with skewer while still hot.
  • Drizzle with lemon/sugar mix and leave to cool.

My Observations

B’s recipe called for self raising flour, which I replaced with spelt flour and baking powder. If you wish to use self raising flour use the same quantity as above but reduce the baking powder by 2 teaspoons.  If you want to use plain wheat flour then just swap it, everything else stays the same.

Since I didn’t bake Jamie’s Nan’s cake I can only assure you that my version tasted terrific!  It was light and fluffy and moist and I seriously want more. For fairness sake I really should bake the other one and not just go by other people’s comments.  Many liked Jamie’s version, a lot said it was just too heavy and flat.

The boys scoffed their serving, asking for more before having finished the last bite.  I was having a hard time keeping the last one for their father out of reach of sticky, little hands.

Easy, fast, yummy.
The spelt makes it easier to digest for people with wheat intolerances (like me).

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  1. This is one I will try next weekend Anke, it must be delicious 🙂
    Big hugs XXX

  2. Why spelt flour? I actually noticed some the other day for the first time. My boss use to buy spelt bread too… so why spelt flour? What’s so special about it?

    • Spelt is an ancient wheat hybrid. That means it is no good for coeliacs but it is lower in gluten, higher in protein and easier to digest than modern bread wheat. This is why a lot of people who have a wheat intolerance can eat spelt (and kamut, another ancient wheat hybrid, from Egypt).

      I am still experimenting with it but so far have found that you can just swap it for wheat flour in baking recipes. It needs less working to develop the gluten it has, so work it less than you would a wheat recipe. The taste is a little bit nuttier than wheat but very nice. I used WHITE spelt flour as I want to eventually phase out wheat flour completely and I dont use wholemeal flours in general. You can get spelt pasta, breads, flours and I have seen some cereals too.

      Oh, and I am choosing it because I am wheat intolerant (amongst other things) and have a sneaking suspicion the boys are sensitive too.

  3. Anke this sounds divine, could it be made with normal plain flour?

    • Yes Liz, the original recipe uses normal self raising flour. If you want to use plain, just swap it with the spelt quantity, keep everything else the same 🙂

  4. Oh yum! I must try this! I have not used spelt flour before, but you have inspired me. I keep reading so much about wheat contributing to belly fat, etc I am interested in trying something else. What are the symptoms of your intolerance, Anke? I really don’t know the signs of it! big hugs! xx

    • It’s difficult to work out which of my symptoms is due to wheat seeing that I have a whole host of food intolerances.
      There is certainly bloating, and abdominal discomfort as the top two.

      In my case, within 30 minutes of eating wheat – pasta or bread for example – I can easily put on two dress sizes around the wasit and look like I am pregnant.
      (If I eat Indian food I look like I am overdue giving birth and am in quite a bit of pain).

      Some people find that their eczema is related to wheat and that it eases when they stop having it in their diet.

  5. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I have heard so many people speak in the last few years about this intolerance, but hadn’t researched the symptoms, so this helps me understand a lot! Thanks honey!! xxx

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