Lemon and orange cake recipe

(207 ratings)

This lemon and orange cake is bursting with flavour and makes a lovely afternoon treat to be enjoyed with a cup of tea.

Lemon and orange cake on a cake stand
(Image credit: Getty)
Preparation Time35 mins
Cooking Time1 hours 10 mins Plus 10 minutes cooling
Total Time1 hours 45 mins
Cost RangeMid
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories563 Kcal28%
Sugars74.2 g82%
Saturated Fat11.4 g57%
Protein5.2 g10%
Fat19.2 g27%
Carbohydrates92.3 g36%

This lemon and orange cake is easy to make and looks impressive too. Serve as an afternoon treat or omit the icing and serve with yogurt for an indulgent breakfast. 

If you like the flavours of our orange drizzle cake you’ll enjoy this combination. The candied citrus slices look professional and impressive but are very easy to make. They can also be made ahead of time if you want to do some prep before your friends or family come over for a slice. 


  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp each finely grated orange and lemon rind
  • 330g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 75g plain flour
  • 125ml orange juice
  • 60ml lemon juice

For the candied citrus slices:

  • 220g caster sugar
  • 1 medium orange (240g), sliced thinly
  • 1 medium lime (75g), sliced thinly

For the icing glaze:

  • 320g icing sugar
  • 60ml boiling water




  1. Heat the oven to 160C (140C fan, Gas 3). Grease a deep 22cm (9-inch) round cake tin and line the base and side with baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter, orange and lemon zest and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time then fold in the sifted flours and juices in two batches.
  4. Spread the mixture into the cake tin.
  5. Bake the cake for about 1 hour 10 minutes. When you take the cake out of the oven, leave it to stand in the tin for 10 minutes before turning, top-side up, onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, make candied citrus slices. Put the caster sugar in a large pan with 125ml water. Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves and without boiling the mixture. Add the sliced orange, lemon or lime and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and allow to cook for 15 minutes uncovered, turning the fruit occasionally. Remove from the heat then cool on a wire rack and leave to set.
  8. Make the icing glaze by combining the icing sugar and boiling water. Stir until smooth then spoon over the cake. Decorate with some candied citrus slices and then serve.

Top tips for making lemon and orange cake

You can make the candied citrus slices ahead of time and bake the sponge ahead too. Then simply make the icing glaze and decorate just before serving. The un-iced cake can be frozen if wrapped tightly in clingfilm.

Defrost before decorating and eating. If you don’t have time to make the candied citrus you can buy them in some supermarkets or online. Alternatively, you could simply garnish the cake with some more orange and lemon zest. For tips on how to make the best candied peel or for inspiration on different flavour combinations, continue reading below. 

What does lemon juice do for flavour?

In baking, lemon is a great flavour to contrast and balance sweetness. In this cake recipe the lemon zest and juice compliments the rich butter and sweet sugar to ensure the final bake isn’t too sickly. Lemon also triggers the taste buds that are receptive to sourness and encourages your mouth to salivate. 

Why are my candied orange peels bitter?

Bitterness comes from the white pith between the flesh of the orange and the skin. To reduce the bitter taste, cut the orange as thinly as possible and ensure the slices are fully coated in the sugar syrup. Once candied the citrus peels will keep for a few days if stored in an airtight container. 

What flavour compliments lemon?

Predictably, orange is a great partner for lemon. With that in mind both citrus fruits also pair well with honey and can be lifted in flavour with the addition of a little finely shredded mint or rosemary. Toasted nuts such as almonds go nicely with orange and lemon and you could use a scattering of nuts to garnish the cake. You could also substitute out 50g flour and replace with ground almonds instead. This will make the cake lovely and moist too. 

If you’d like a boozy twist, consider making the icing glaze with gin instead of water. We like to use a combination of gin and lemon juice. It adds a subtle alcoholic flavour and warmth but is a fun addition for an adult birthday cake. 

Using a mandoline slicer is the easiest way to achieve thin, uniform slices of fruit. It will give your candied citrus slices a professional look and finish and this handheld slicer won’t take up lots of room in your kitchen drawers. 

OXO Good Grips Handheld Mandoline Slicer - View at Amazon

OXO Good Grips Handheld Mandoline Slicer - View at Amazon

This compact mandoline makes light work of slicing fruit and vegetables. Not only is it perfect for making the candied citrus slices in this orange and lemon cake recipe, it’s also excellent for making homemade coleslaw or French onion soup. It’s easy to clean and comes with a handy safety guard to protect your fingers. Food writer Jessica Ransom says: ‘This is one of my favourite kitchen gadgets and unlike most bulky mandolines, it fits neatly into my utensil drawer.’ 

For another classic bake, you must try Mary Berry’s lemon drizzle cake. Although both can be served for dessert, one of our favourite citrus options is this lemon pudding. If you fancy another afternoon treat then our lemon cookies are a great option and are perfect for making with kids. 

Jessica Ransom
Senior Food Writer

Jessica is a freelance food writer, stylist and recipe tester. She previously worked as Senior Food Writer at Future. While at Future Jessica wrote food and drink-related news stories and features, curated product pages, reviewed equipment, and developed recipes that she then styled on food shoots. She is an enthusiastic, self-taught cook who adores eating out and sharing great food and drink with friends and family. She has completed the Level 1 Associate course at the Academy of Cheese and is continually building on her knowledge of beers, wines, and spirits.