Vegan Lemon & Lilac Loaf

This vegan lemon & lilac loaf is actually a recipe which I’ve adapted from a new cookbook favourite! I simply adore anything lemon flavoured and the recent spells of warmer weather here in the UK have got me craving all of the lemon desserts! If you’re like me and can’t get enough of those fresh citrus flavours, then this recipe is going to be just the one for you! 

I’ve never tried the classic Starbucks lemon loaf myself, but I’ve seen many trending recipe recreations across social media… so this is my take! This cake is perfect for spring, super simple to make and also a completely plant based version! An incredibly light and fluffy sponge, bursting with the vibrant flavours of zesty, fresh lemons! This is delicious served on its own, or with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream on a warm summers afternoon! 

 I’m always so excited when I see the Lilac tree in my front garden begin to bloom each year! The flowers are so pretty and add a delicate touch of natural beauty to my cakes! 

why you should make this vegan lemon & lilac loaf

  • It’s simple to make and can be made from easily accessible ingredients. 
  • This recipe is completely plant based
  • It’s the perfect spring & summer recipe which is bursting with fresh, vibrant flavours! 
  • The sponge cake is a deliciously soft and fluffy texture- you would never guess it’s vegan! 
  • Makes for an idyllic accompaniment to afternoon tea! 

what will you need to make this recipe?

  • Fresh lemons: a somewhat obvious ingredient here! You’ll need both the zest and juice from fresh lemons for this recipe. I always prefer to use fresh lemons over lemon extract. 
  • Olive oil: this recipe calls for a light and mild olive oil in place of butter. Not only does this keep the recipe dairy free, but also creates a light and fluffy sponge cake texture. 
  • Self raising flour: to create a gorgeously well rise loaf, you will need to use a self raising or cake flour blend. 
  • Granulated sugar: I’ve used granulated sugar for this recipe, so it’s not a refined sugar free recipe. You could also switch this up for golden caster sugar if preferred. 
  • Soy milk and apple cider vinegar: this combination is what you’ll need to whip up your vegan buttermilk alternative. The vinegar reacts with the soy milk and curdles to create an amazing plant based version of a classic buttermilk. This is such a useful staple hack to keep in mind for future plant based baking needs! 

making vegan buttermilk

Buttermilk is something which is commonly used when making baked goods and can be easily purchased from most supermarkets in the milk isle. You can create your own vegan ‘buttermilk’ alternative simply at home using two simple ingredients. By combining your plant based milk with either apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, this will cause the milk to curdle and thicken. Whilst you can use most non-dairy milks for this, I would recommend using soy milk to achieve the most accurate consistency. You’ll find this in most of my sponge cake recipes, so it’s a great little hack to be aware of! 

To make your plant based buttermilk, combine 1 tbsp of your vinegar/lemon juice with.1 cup (250ml) of your milk and stir. Set this to one side for 5(ish) minutes and allow to curdle and thicken. 

can i make this recipe gluten free?

Unfortunately I haven’t tested this recipe with a gluten free flour blend yet, so I can’t confirm whether this would work for you. If this Is something you’d like to see, I can definitely add this to my baking list! 

Vegan Lemon & Lilac Loaf

A deliciously moist, Vegan lemon loaf cake decorated with a simple sugar glaze and fresh lilacs. Perfect for spring.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Baking


Sponge Cake

  • 180 g granulated sugar
  • 90 ml olive oil
  • 230 g self raising flour
  • 210 ml soy milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 lemons zested
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  • 150 g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • 1-2 drops purple food colouring (vegan)


  • 100 g fresh blackberries
  • 100 g fresh blueberries
  • Lilac flowers


  • Preheat your oven to 180c fan and line a regular loaf cake pan with baking paper.
  • To make your vegan buttermilk, stir the apple cider vinegar into your soy milk and set aside for 5 minutes. These should thicken and begin to curdle.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add in your sugar and lemon zest, rubbing these together using your fingers. Combine the sugar and olive oil and beat these together until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the buttermilk mixture and lemon juice until well incorporated.
  • Sift the dry ingredients and fold these into the wet mixture.
  • Transfer the batter into your loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden and well risen. You will know your cake is cooked if you can insert a toothpick and this comes out clean.
  • Allow your loaf to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer this to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To make the glaze, stir the icing sugar and water together, then gradually add in a little of your food colouring. Once you're left with a smooth, pourable consistency, you can drizzle this over your cooled cake, allowing it to flow gloriously down the sides.
  • Top the cake with fresh fruit and flowers and you're ready to serve!

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