Soft vegan lemon cakes topped with gem-coloured lemon curd are the perfect treat to have while you celebrate the return of Game of Thrones to HBO! You can whip them up a half hour before your guests arrive and fill your home with the bright, cheery aroma of lemon sweetness to armor your heart against the upcoming endless winter. Or have them any time; they are so easy to make! Sansa’s favourite (vegan) lemon cakes are also a wonderful snack to have with tea while you curl up with to read (or listen to) a good book.
Video tutorial for Sansa’s Vegan Lemon Cakes
The Game of Thrones books (A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin) are full of descriptions of the foods (and fabrics) of Westeros, Sansa’s lemon cakes are THE treats that are talked about again and again. There’s not much of a description in the books other than the fact that they’re lemony and sweet. So these lemon cakes are mostly inspired by the ones we saw in the HBO show Game of Thrones, particularly the episode when Sansa has them with Olenna and Margaery Tyrell. There is an official recipe which consists of a fluffy egg-based sponge cake flavoured with lemon zest baked in a water bath. This vegan version will be light and fluffy but much easier for the average baker. No whipping up eggs, no water bath! The official version also looks like it has a lemon curd topping which we’ll also veganize easily!
This recipe is perfect for new bakers as it’s pretty easy without complex cake baking techniques like having to whip up a meringue and carefully fold in other ingredients. Instead of whipping up egg whites to make these cakes rise up light and fluffy, we’ll use a combination of baking powder, baking soda and lemon. The reaction will create a fluffy foam which we’ll gently stir flour into. The only thing to watch out for is over-mixing. So just stir gently and slowly until the flour just disappears into the foam; don’t stir a second longer than that. Over-mixing is the number one reason some cakes, muffins, and pancakes turn into a gummy mess.
Another item that new cooks/bakers might be unfamiliar with is lemon zest. Or how to get that darn zest off a lemon. This recipe only uses a couple of teaspoons of lemon zest which you should be able to get off of one large lemon. I used a zest grater, AKA microplane to get just the yellow zest off the lemon. Avoid the bitter white pith under the fragrant yellow zest.
While we’re on the subject of how many lemons you’ll need – a single lemon contains about two tablespoons of lemon juice. So for one batch of these lemon cakes, you’ll probably need one and a half lemons. Since lemons come in all sizes though, do measure the juice before using it in this recipe.
Recipe for Sansa’s Vegan Lemon Cakes
These cakes are light and airy, scented with lemon zest and vanilla and topped with sweet and tangy vegan lemon curd. Make them in 30 minutes or less and have warm vegan lemon cakes fit for a queen! This recipe makes 6 cupcake-sized lemon cakes.
NOTE: For best results, measure ingredients by weight. This recipe has not been tested using gluten-free flour. Please let me know if you do try making it gluten-free! I prefer Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 Baking Flour when I do make gluten-free baked goods.
- 5 tablespoons (75g) sugar
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (50ml) soy milk
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) neutral-tasting oil (eg. sunflower, canola, refined coconut)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- pinch of salt
- 2/3 cup (85g) all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons (60g) sugar
- 4 tablespoons (60ml) lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (aka cornflour)
- 1 tablespoon soy milk
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- pinch of salt
- pinch of turmeric (optional for colour)
- extra lemon zest
- lemon slices
- powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
- Make the cakes:
- In a medium – large sized mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, soy milk, and lemon juice until sugar is dissolved. Add baking powder and baking soda and whisk to combine. The mixture will bubble up; continue to stir about 10 seconds.
- Add the oil, lemon zest, vanilla extract and salt. Stir to combine.
- Add the flour a few tablespoons at a time and stir gently until just combined and no dry flour remains. Continue until all the flour is incorporated. Do not over mix!
- Line a 6-cavity muffin/cupcake tin with parchment or silicone re-usable liners. Spoon the cake batter into all the molds evenly.
- Bake in your preheated oven (350°F / 180°C) for 18 to 20 minutes. When done, the tops will be a pale golden colour. To test, insert a toothpick into the largest cupcake. It will come out clean if it’s done.
- Make the Lemon curd:
- While the cakes are baking, You can make the lemon curd. In a small pot, combine sugar, lemon juice, water, cornstarch, soy milk and lemon zest. Mix well until there are no lumps.
- Turn the heat on medium-high and cook until the mixture comes to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir well. The mixture should be thick and glossy. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt. Add the turmeric while rubbing it between your fingers so it doesn’t land in a clump. Stir well. To make the translucent lemon curd a little more opaque, stir in the vegan butter. Taste. You can adjust the flavour by adding a little more lemon juice for extra tang, extra sugar if you prefer sweeter lemon curd, or add a touch more salt to contrast the sweetness. Set aside until the cupcakes are ready.
- Assemble the Vegan Lemon Cakes:
- When the cupcakes are done, carefully take them out of the muffin tin. Wait 5 to 10 minutes until you can turn them out of their liners cleanly. Place them top-down on a serving plate. Spoon over warm lemon curd and top with extra lemon zest for garnish. Optionally, dust over some powdered sugar and garnish the plate with fresh lemon slices. Enjoy!
Storage: Leftover lemon cakes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Heat them up in the microwave for about 10 seconds just to get the chill off before serving.
The lemon curd can be made ahead up to a week. You can store it in the fridge in clean, airtight jar. Feel free to multiply the recipe for a larger batch. This recipe as-is makes about 3/4 cup of vegan lemon curd.
You can also feel free to double the cake recipe as well. Do not make make more than a double multiple of cake batter in the same bowl though — it becomes more difficult to avoid over-mixing.