Gluten-Free All Day Lemon Cake With a Choice of 2 Toppings

This lemon cake is as good with a morning cup of coffee as it is as an after-dinner treat. [Photograph: Elizabeth Barbone]

The light texture and not-to-sweet lemony flavor of this cake make it perfect for breakfast, dessert, or whenever the mood strikes. The recipe gives you two choices for toppings: an easy simple-syrup glaze, or a tart lemony icing. You can also vary the cake by adding whatever berries are in season when you make it.

Why this recipe works:

  • Rice flour and tapioca starch combine to create a cake that's delicate and that does not rely on xanthan gum for structure.
  • Lemon zest in the batter and lemon juice in the glaze add a strong lemon flavor without overpowering the cake.

Notes: Select one glaze to finish the cake. The simple syrup glaze changes the texture of the cake a little, making it damp, while the powdered sugar icing leaves the coffee cake-like texture intact. If desired, toss together 1 cup washed berries, like blueberries, with 1 tablespoon white rice flour. Stir coated berries into the finished batter and bake as directed.

Gluten-Free All Day Lemon Cake With a Choice of 2 Toppings

About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 6
Active time:10 minutes
Total time:50 minutes
Special equipment:8-inch square baking pan
This recipe appears in: Gluten-Free All Day Lemon Cake With a Choice of Toppings


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) brown or white rice flour
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) tapioca starch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest from 2 to 3 lemons
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • Option 1: Simple Syrup Glaze
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons zest and 6 tablespoons fresh juice from about 4 to 6 lemons
  • Option 2: Powdered Sugar Icing
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon


  1. 1

    Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. 2

    In large mixing bowl, whisk together rice flour, granulated sugar, tapioca starch, baking powder, and salt. In a measuring cup or a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and lemon zest. Pour buttermilk mixture over dry ingredients. Whisk in vegetable oil and eggs until smooth.

  3. 3

    Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

  4. 4

    Option 1: Simple Syrup Glaze Meanwhile, if making the Simple-Syrup Glaze, combine granulated sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring gently until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low and cook syrup until it thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

  5. 5

    While cake is still warm, poke it all over with a fork. Brush top of cake with syrup and allow to absorb fully, about 5 minutes. Repeat until all syrup is absorbed.

  6. 6

    Option 2: Powdered Sugar Glaze If making Powdered Sugar Glaze, allow cake to cool completely. In small bowl, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice. Stir with a fork until smooth. Icing should be thick but spreadable; if the icing is too thick, add a little more lemon juice. Spread icing on cake and allow to set for 15 minutes before serving.

  7. 7

    Store cake, covered, on the counter for up to 3 days.


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