My Mini Lemon Drizzle Cakes with Cointreau are award winning. No really, I won a Bake-Off prize for their ‘lemonyness’! Based on a Nigella recipe with a little added booze and more lemon, these little soft sponges with a tangy kick are one of my favourite ever cakes.
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Let me first explain the award. Union Chapel in London held a summer fete with a baking competition and so I entered. Any excuse for potential glory! I’m competitive and have no share. I found out it was a lemon drizzle competition quite late in the day. ‘No trouble’ I thought, I have the perfect tried and tested recipe!
Competitions are no real time for experimentation. But then I realised that I needed something to make my cakes stand out from the crowd and the answer became immediately obvious. Add booze. The answer to that question is almost always ‘add bacon’ or ‘add booze’. Bacon didn’t feel quite right and so I added Cointreau. Good call.
On the day, as a result of a public vote, my orange laced cakes won the ‘Best Lemoney-ness’ category. It just shows that the public know nothing much and some things should probably be left to the experts! I write this in 2019 in the UK, I’ll let you work out if there is any subtext at play here!
Actually I am a bit obsessed with using lemon in my baking generally. Around Easter time I like to make my Lemon & White Chocolate ‘Simnel’ Cake which is based on the same sponge as these mini cakes. And for something a little more sophisticated I like to make my classic Tarte au Citron.
My recipe is more or less based on the Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake from the greatest Nigella Lawson book, How to be a Domestic Goddess. I leave out the lemon zest and add in some lemon juice (and in this case; Cointreau).
I’ve used this recipe numerous times in many variations; as a layer cake, a tray bake and as cupcakes/muffins. The ratio of fat to sugar/flour/egg and addition of milk is slightly different to a classic Victoria Sandwich Cake and I think it makes for a lighter, softer sponge. I’ve adapted the drizzle slightly too. Sorry Nige.
Make Cointreau Drizzle Cakes into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
These lemon drizzle cakes make a perfect addition to an Afternoon Tea type feast. Try serving them with savouries like Chorizo Rose Tarts and individual Quiche Lorraines. Scones almost must make an appearance along with other sweet treats like Russian Slice, Fiery Ginger Loaf Cake and Chewy Ginger Cookies.
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Mini Lemon Drizzle Cakes with Cointreau
All of the Lemon Juice in the recipe should ideally be fresh. the tang of fresh juice is obvious in the finished recipe. Saying that, you can use bottled juice in a pinch. You will still create some lovely cakes.
I understand that some people may not enjoy booze in their cakes quite as much as I do. In which case, simply leave out the Cointreau. If you don’t have any Cointreau at hand, any orange liqueur or triple sec would do. Or Southern Comfort.
As I’ve mentioned above, I have made this sponge in many different variations. You can double the recipe and make a layer cake. Just add a buttercream or fresh cream between the layers. Do still use the drizzle and icing on top!
I’ve called these ‘mini cakes’ but you could obviously make and call them cupcakes. You could pipe buttercream on the top instead of using the runny icing or just present them as old fashioned buns.
Try switching the citrus you are using. I understand that grapefruit drizzle is a thing and lime would make a banging substitute.
You don’t need to add the layer of icing to these cakes. For something super simple, add the drizzle and then serve. They’re actually rather delicious served warm like this!
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
My Mini Cointreau cakes are totally suitable for veggies.
And they can easily be adapted for vegans. Just make the following substitutions:
- Swap the butter for baking block or dairy free spread.
- Substitute each egg for 1 tbsp vegetable oil.
- Swap the milk for a dairy free milk or water.
Make it Allergy Friendly
My Mini Lemon Drizzle Cakes are free from nuts.
Egg or Dairy Free: As always, to make these cakes suitable for a dairy free diet, just follow the vegan swap instructions above. But don’t swap the eggs. Do however swap the eggs if you have an egg allergy.
Gluten Free: Use a gluten free flour with added gluten free baking powder to substitute the self raising flour. .
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Mini Lemon Drizzle Cakes
Juicing this many lemons by hand can be a little tedious. I use my trusty lemon reamer to get as much juice as possible without creating a ton of washing up. Or having to plug an appliance in. I use a small sieve to remove any pulp or pips before measuring what I need with my measuring spoons.
Use a fork rather than skewer if you don’t have one for making the holes in the cooked cakes before adding the drizzle.
There are many implements available to zest a lemon, including just using the fine side of a box grater. But I love my fine microplane grater. Its almost effortless and produces very fine zest that doesn’t stick in your teeth!
I am evangelical about using silicone spatulas rather than old fashioned wood or nylon spoons. Silicone spatulas scrape down bowls leaving nothing behind which means that you don’t end up with lumps of unmixed butter or egg in the final mix. It cuts down on ingredient waste too. Scrape the bowl properly people!
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
There are a multitude of options for getting ahead of the game with these cakes. You can stop and freeze them after baking, after adding the drizzle or even after icing. Leave to thaw naturally when you want to eat them.
If you don’t need to get THAT far ahead, you can just make the cakes a couple of days in advance. The drizzle keeps them super moist so no stale cake here!
Leftover Mini Cointreau Drizzle Cakes
In the highly unlikely event that you have any drizzle cakes left over, you could easily freeze them for a later date. Or use them as a base for a boozy trifle or blitz them up and make my Russian Slices.
Mini Lemon Drizzle Cakes with Cointreau Tips
The mixture will likely split as you add the eggs. Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter, just keep whisking.
Don’t fill the cake cases more than half way. You don’t want the finished cakes to rise above the top of the cases or the icing won’t be contained. Also remember they’re ‘mini’ cakes!
Keep the cakes in the baking tin for the whole cooling and icing period. This will stop the drizzle and icing from running everywhere.
If you’ve got a baking competition to enter, maybe these are the cakes for you? Give it a go! Let me know how you get on! Good luck!
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
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More Cake Recipes
Mini Lemon Drizzle Cakes with Cointreau
For the Cake
- 125 g Salted Butter
- 175 g Caster Sugar (Superfine Sugar)
- 2 Eggs
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 2 tbsp Cointreau
- 175 g Self Raising Flour (Self-Rising)
- 0.25 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
For the Drizzle
- 3 tbsp Lemon Juice – Ideally fresh
- 5 tbsp Caster Sugar (Superfine Sugar)
- 2 tbsp Cointreau
For the Icing
- 120 g Icing Sugar (Confectioner’s Sugar)
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Lemons
- Preheat the oven to 170c or equivalent.
Make the Cakes
- Lay out your cake cases in the tin ready for filling.
- Add 125g Salted Butter and 175g Caster Sugar to a medium mixing bowl.
- Beat until light and fluffy
- Add the first of 2 Large Eggs and continue whisking until well combined.
- Beat until the mix is light and creamy.
- Add the second egg and continue whisking again.
- Add 2 tbsp Lemon Juice and 2 tbsp Cointreau and whisk in fully.
- Using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, fold in 175g Self Raising Flour and 0.25 tsp Sea Salt Flakes.
- Stop folding as soon as the flour is combined.
- Divide the mixture into 12 cake cases.
- Don’t fill more than halfway up the cake cases or you will end up with fully fledged cupcakes and not mini cakes!
- Bake for around 20 minutes – until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in their tray.
Make the Drizzle
- Whilst the cakes are cooking, add 3 tbsp Lemon Juice, 5 tbsp Caster Sugar and 2 tbsp Cointreau to a small saucepan.
- Heat gently whilst stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Once the syrup starts bubbling, take it off the heat. This should take no more than 3 to 4 minutes.
- Once the cakes are out of the oven, use a skewer or something long an pointy to poke holes in the top of the cakes.
- Take you time to make the holes as even as possible.
- Spoon a teaspoon of the syrup over each cake. Then repeat again in the same order so the syrup will have had a chance to start soaking in.
- Leave the cakes to cool fully.
Make the Icing
- Add 120g Icing Sugar and 2 tbsp Cointreau to a small bowl.
- Mix to a smooth paste
- Dollop a scant tablespoon of icing onto each cake.
- Gently spread the icing to meet the edge of the cases.
- Using a fine grater, zest 1 Lemon directly over the wet icing. Zest from a good height to ensure even distribution.
- Leave the icing to firm up a little in the tin then remove and enjoy.