These started out as lemon and coconut slices, but when it came to testing them out again for the blog I realised I only had oranges left in the kitchen. So they temporarily became orange flavoured, but I have to say I think I like the lemon slightly better. If you’d prefer the alternative orange version, you can easily sub out the zest and juice from the cake batter with that of half a large orange, same with the icing. Or you could half-and-half it and make orange and lemon St. Clements slices, which frankly sounds amazing now I just thought of it.
Lemon & Coconut Squares
Fluffy squares of sweet coconut and zesty lemon topped with rich cream cheese icing
For the cake batter:
- 150 ml non-dairy milk
- 1 large lemon, juice & zest see notes
- 100 g desiccated coconut
- 250 g non-dairy spread
- 250 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence or vanilla bean paste
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 400 g self-raising flour
For the icing:
- 100 g icing sugar
- 50 g vegan cream cheese see notes
- 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 lemon, zest
- Pinch of sea salt
- 4 tbsp desiccated coconut to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease a non-stick baking tin - I use a 10 inch square - with vegan butter or some vegetable oil.
Add the non-dairy milk (150ml) and lemon juice to a measuring jug and stir to combine. The milk should curdle slightly. Add in the zest and half of the coconut (50g), mix it all together and put in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, start the cake batter by beating together the sugar and dairy free spread (250g each) with a hand-mixer until it is soft and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract (1 tsp) and mix again.
Add in the wet mixture from the fridge. It will start to look curdled - made worse by the coconut pieces - but don't worry, it will come back together.
Sieve in the baking soda (1 tsp), followed by the flour (400g) and beat everything together. Add the remaining 50g of desiccated coconut and stir through with a spatula. Pour into the prepared baking tin.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. If you have an oven which tends to brown things round the edges, drop the temperature to 160 and give it 10 more minutes in the oven. The top should be a medium golden-brown colour. To check it's cooked through, poke a knife or a cocktail stick into the middle of the cake and see if it comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
To make the icing, beat together the cream cheese (50g) and the icing sugar (100g) using a hand-mixer. Add the lemon juice (3-4 tbsp) and zest and a tiny pinch of sea salt and mix again. If you would like a thicker icing, keep adding icing sugar bit by bit until you are happy with the consistency.
Once the cake is cooled, you can cut the squares or add the icing in whichever order you prefer. I like cut the squares before the icing so that you get some drizzle down the sides of each piece. You can cut the squares as small or large as you like, you will get 9 large (3x3), 12 medium (3x4) or 16 small (4x4). Either spread a blob of the icing over each square or put the icing in a jug and gently pour a thick drizzle back and forth over the cakes.
Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
Make sure to find unwaxed lemons as the wax used to coat them is often animal-derived.
I used the Violife Creamy Original Cream Cheese as it has the perfect tang of real cream cheese and a really smooth texture.