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Zero Waste Food | Lovely Lemon Loaf Cake with Lemon Icing

This light and delicious dessert is perfect for a fun twist on sweet decadence. Read on for all the details on this mini lemon loaf cake.

All my life, I’ve been a chocolate fanatic. Dessert wasn’t really dessert without chocolate. Lately, however, I’ve been on a bit of a fruit kick. I’m not sure what sparked the change; maybe just a general and intentional decline in my chocolate consumption. 

In any case, I recently celebrated my birthday and opted for a chocolate-free dessert for the first time ever. I’ve been drooling over this Simple Cake cookbook (that I checked out from the library) for weeks. Thank goodness no one else requested it because I renewed it like a champ. 

The book includes a handful of gorgeous, minimalist cakes, and I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to try. The zero-waster in me inventoried my fridge and found a half dozen lemons nearing their end of life and a carton of vanilla Greek yogurt that could use a little love. So .. I made myself these mini lemon loaf cakes and topped them with a thick lemon glaze to use up the lingering ingredients. 

Old lemons and yogurt in hand, I commandeered my zero waste inspired baking practices and set out to bake myself a birthday treat.

Baking from scratch naturally lends itself to less waste than most pre-made or store-bought alternatives that often come wrapped in lots of plastic. Thus, baking low waste mini lemon loaf cakes proved easier than buying a low waste birthday dessert from a store bakery. Whenever I bake, I use many of the tricks in my Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Zero Waste Baking

I don’t always use a liner on pans when baking; I often use a silicone baking mat. For this recipe, however, I opted to add a small piece of parchment paper (made from recycled materials) to the bottom of each mini loaf pan to prevent the cakes from sticking to the pan.

Not only did this make clean up much easier and produce better uniformity among the cakes, but I also think it increases the longevity of the pan. Fewer remnants stick to the pan, so using parchment paper requires less extensive cleaning and reduces scratches on the pan while trying to remove said stuck cakes. In the end, I suppose I’m trading parchment paper waste for eventual loaf pan waste. 

Zero waste is also about more than just reducing plastics and the amount of tangible trash in our garbage bins. Portion control and portion sizes influence food waste as well. Sadly, we throw away 40% of the food grown in our country.

I find that most dessert recipes for our family usually make too many servings. Such was the case with these mini lemon loaf cakes. I froze half of the cakes for another day so they wouldn’t get stale before we ate them. I made only I made a half batch of the glaze, planning to whip up fresh glaze when we used the second half of the cakes. The glaze is much better when fresh anyways. 

The mini lemon loaf cakes turned out to be delicious. The lemon glaze was the key, though a vanilla, raspberry, or blueberry glaze would have worked just as well. The boys don’t love lemon as much as I do so, for full disclosure, they were not such huge fans of my mini birthday cakes. They said they were a bit too lemony. The cakes purposefully had quite a bit of lemon. The recipe doesn’t call for a lemon glaze, and I added quite a bit of lemon juice to the recipe.

Needless to say, I got a whole lot of birthday cake to myself, and I have no regrets. After all, it’s my birthday. I bake what everyone else wants on their birthdays, so it was my turn to pick something just for me. 

If you love lemon, you will love these cakes. If lemon is not your thing, you could easily swap out lemon juice for orange juice and make a tamer treat. I also highly recommend checking out the book for other alternative cakes to try. There were a host of beautiful and decadent cakes that were simple yet stunning, and I definitely want to try to make more of them in the future. 

I’ve included the recipe below, slightly adapted from the book. If you try it, be sure to let me know what you think. Now go make some mini lemon(ade) loaf cakes out of lemons.

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Mini Lemon Loaf Cake With Lemon Icing

Mini Lemon Loaf Cake With Lemon Icing

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Adapted from Simple Cake by Odette Williams


  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt, plain works as well
  • 1 zest of lemon
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeeze lemon juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice


Mini Lemon Loaf Cakes

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  2. Add a small piece of parchment paper to the bottom of each loaf section. Then grease each section with butter to prevent the cakes from sticking to the pan.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Mix together the eggs, oil, yogurt, zest, lemon juice, and sugar.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together until the batter is smooth.
  6. Fill each mini loaf section about 3/4 full and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cakes to cool for at least ten minutes before removing from the pan. Then allow cakes to cool completely before adding the glaze.

Lemon Glaze

  1. Mix powdered sugar, butter, and 2 tbsp lemon juice together until it reaches a smooth consistency. Add powdered sugar to make glaze thicker. Add water or lemon juice to make glaze runnier.
  2. Pour glaze over cakes. Add a slice of lemon, if desired, and serve.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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