Lemon & Courgette Cake

Lemon & Courgette Cake

This cake isn’t going to win any beauty contests – but it will make your heart and your tummy happy, and make you feel pleasingly domesticated with minimal effort.

It’s my current favourite 'picnic cake' – once cooled, it can be sliced, and then wrapped in foil or clingfilm and transported anywhere you like. And it tastes summery, and at the same time comfortingly stodgy……so ideal for a British summer picnic really!

I wanted to call this ‘Gin & Tonic Cake’, but that seems cruelly misleading, given that it contains neither gin or tonic.

It was, however, inspired by an exciting recent G&t drinking discovery. (Who knew that adding a pinch of freshly ground black pepper to your gin and tonic takes it up a notch?! Try it!).

Since the gin revelation, I’ve been liberally adding black pepper to all kinds of unlikely recipes. And in the context of a zingy lemon drizzle cake, with the summery addition of grated courgette to lighten it up (and reduce the guilt factor slightly) it tastes amazing. Trust me! It’s not overpowering at all, just a bit aromatic and different…..though feel free to leave it out if you don’t believe me.

Anyway, it’s probably safer just to call this ‘Lemon & Courgette Cake with Black Pepper’.

This is totally my kind of baking – just throw all the ingredients in a bowl, mix for 30 seconds, scrape into a loaf tin and bake. Then if you can be faffed, drizzle a bit of sugar and lemon juice over the baked cake to make a crunchy topping.

I made a version last week which had glace icing and an extra sprinkle of black pepper on top (Glace icing = lemon juice mixed with just enough icing sugar to form a spreadable paste), It looks a bit prettier, but I think I prefer it without.

ok, so to be fair this one doesn't look all that pretty (!) but it had spent 5 hours in my backpack before i got around to taking this photo!

The courgette element, and relatively low sugar content (for a cake!) means that you could just about pass this off as a healthful option (win). If you have a keen little sous chef in the house, get them to grate courgette and squeeze the lemons for you – so it counts as a purposeful parenting activity too (win win) And there’s minimal washing up (win win win).


Please do make this cake – I just can’t get enough of it myself (there’s one in the oven right now – my 3rd in a week!)

Makes: 1 regular sized (2lb) loaf cake – which cuts into 10 generous slices.

Takes: 5-10 minutes to throw together, then 50-60 minutes in the oven.

Storage: Unlike most cakes, this little beauty keeps perfectly well for 3-4 days, so it’s ideal to make in advance. Just let it cool, and then keep it in something airtight, or well wrapped with cling film. It also freezes well.


1 medium green courgette, washed and grated (approx. 200g)

200g self raising flour

140g caster sugar (plus a heaped tablespoon for the topping)

1 large egg

125ml vegetable oil (eg coconut, sunflower or rapeseed)

½ teaspoon fine salt

½ teaspoon black pepper (optional)

2 lemons (the zest goes in the cake mix, the juice gets poured over the cake once it’s cooked.


  • Preheat your oven to 160 degrees c (fan), or Gas mark 3.
  • Put all the ingredients together in a bowl.
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  • Mix with a spoon for 30 seconds or just long enough to combine everything. Don't overmix (or expect it to look very promising at this stage!)
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  • Scrape into a loaf tin (There's no need to grease it, but if you have paper loaf liners use one of those, otherwise, a layer of baking parchment on the bottom and up 2 sides will help you extract it after cooking.
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  • Bake for 1 hour – though check after 50 minutes as all ovens vary. The cake should be a deep golden brown, risen and cracked on top, and a skewer or knife inserted in the middle should come out clean.
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  • Optional Topping: As soon as it comes out of the oven sprinkle a tablespoonful of sugar over the cake, and then squeeze the juice of the 2 lemons over the hot cake. As it cools, this will form a crunchy topping. Let it cool a bit in the tin before lifting it out.
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  • There’s no need to wait until it’s fully cooled to eat it, but if you’re storing it, do let it cool fully before you wrap it up.