Gluten Free Mini Iced Lemon Loaf

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Gluten Free Mini Iced Lemon Loaf is a small batch, gluten free, and naturally sweetened version of the beloved coffeehouse iced lemon loaf!  The lemon loaf is made with fresh lemon, almond flour, sweet rice flour, cream cheese, and maple syrup for a soft, dense, and sublimely moist cake.

Gluten Free Mini Iced Lemon Loaf

We all may have had a slice of the yummy lemon loaf from Starbuck’s.  I know I’ve had my share!  So you can imagine my joy when I realized I could make my own small batch, gluten free, and refined sugar free copycat iced lemon loaf.  And I must say, it will give the coffee shop version a run for its money!

Just as you expect a lemon loaf to be, this recipe delivers a mini loaf that is:

  • Softly Dense – Loaf cakes, much like pound cakes, should be soft, yet dense.  You want to bite into something with some heft.  Plus it helps to carry the delicious lemon icing!
  • Moist – The least favorite word for a baker (except me!)  But it is the only way to help describe the texture of this lemon loaf.
  • Full of Flavor – I say lemon loaf and you expect lemon.  And trust me, the lemon bursts through in flavor in this recipe.  Lemon in both the loaf and the icing make certain of that.

Recipe highlights

A summary of what to expect with this Gluten Free Mini Iced Lemon Loaf recipe:

  • Small Batch – A perfect portion for two people, but I suppose you could slice a couple extra slices to share!
  • Gluten Free – It is in the name, but worth repeating.  This gluten free lemon loaf is made with almond flour, sweet rice flour, and tapioca flour.
  • Refined Sugar Free/Naturally Sweetened – The loaf is sweetened with maple syrup and it produces a bake that is delicately sweet – which allows for the lemon to really shine!
  • Easy – The nature of a small batch helps to make the recipe easy.  Additionally, there are any special baking or preparation techniques for this recipe and it comes together in about 10 minutes.  Plus a few minutes to give the batter time to rest and hydrate before baking.
  • Try Without Swaps – There is a bit of information in the post itself about ingredient swaps.  I don’t recommend trying any until you have tried the recipe as written.  I find that especially in gluten free baking, ingredient swaps aren’t that easy.
Mini lemon loaf with lemon icing sliced on a wood cutting board

What You Need To Make Mini Gluten Free Lemon Loaf

Ingredients

  • Lemon – One medium size lemon is what we need and will be using the zest of the entire lemon, plus some of the juice.
  • Almond Flour – I recommend blanched, super fine almond flour.  I have provided a (affiliate link) to the flours in the recipe itself.
  • Sweet Rice Flour – I have only tested this mini lemon loaf with sweet rice flour.  It is a key ingredient to making the loaf dense, yet moist.
  • Tapioca Flour – The tapioca flour lends to the soft texture and also works as a binder.
  • Baking Powder – To ensure the lemon loaf is gluten free, look for baking powder that indicates it is gluten free.
  • Salt – The salt balances out all of the flavors
  • Cream Cheese – I recommend full fat cream cheese.
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Egg
  • Vanilla Extract – A little vanilla adds extra flavor to the loaf.
  • Pure Maple Syrup – Make sure to use pure maple syrup and not pancake syrup.  The maple syrup provides a delicate, and refined sugar free, sweetness to the loaf.  And no, the lemon loaf does not taste like maple syrup!  
  • Powdered Sugar – The powdered sugar is for the icing.  Any powdered sugar will work, but you can look for a certified vegan, organic, and gluten free powdered sugar – such as Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Powdered Sugar.

Baking Equipment

  • Mini Loaf Pan – I have provided a link to the mini loaf pan I used for this recipe in the recipe itself.  Because this is a small batch, mini loaf, I don’t think any other baking pan will work.  Unless you want to try to bake the loaf as (dense) cupcakes, or a small, thin 6-inch cake.
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Hand Held Mixer

Tips For Making Gluten Free Mini Iced Lemon Loaf

Ingredient Tips

  • Blanched almond flour is my preference – This is because it is ground super fine and without the almond skins.
  • Make sure it is sweet rice flourFull disclosure, this is my first gluten free baking recipe where I use rice flour!  It is what lends to the soft texture of this mini lemon loaf.  With that, I can’t say with authority what other rice flours would do in this recipe.  By my research, I would say it may make the loaf too dry.
  • Use full fat cream cheese – I’ve watched Food Network enough to realize that cream cheese is instrumental in making a soft, moist, and dense cake!  Therefore, I recommend using full fat cream cheese because a non-fat variety may not yield the same soft and dense texture.
  • Use more (or less) lemon zest, but not lemon juice – The size of lemons is so hard to predict.  I used the zest of an entire medium lemon.  With that, if you prefer more lemon in your loaf, zest a little more from another lemon.  However, do not add more lemon juice than indicated.  That will probably affect the end result.
  • Maple syrup is the liquid sweetener of choiceI have tested this recipe many times.  First with honey.  And each time the loaf sank in the middle and had a super loose and spongy crumb.  Honey does not behave like maple syrup in baking.  It requires a lower temperature because it browns quickly, longer bake time to compensate for the lower temperature, and fine refinement of the other ingredients to compensate for the acidity.

Baking Tips

  • Use a mini loaf pan – If you want the result to be a mini loaf, then you need to use a mini loaf pan.  However, in a pinch you could bake the recipe in a 6-inch cake pan, but know that the result will be a thinner cake (and not a loaf!)
  • Grease the mini pan well – When I say this, I mean make sure you get into the corners of the pan so the loaf will release.  You could line the pan with a strip of parchment paper, but I find that is not necessary if the pan is greased.
  • Rest the batter before baking – Because of the rice flour, we want to give the batter some time to hydrate before popping it into the oven.  Otherwise, the loaf may turn out with a more spongy crumb.
  • Allow the loaf to cool completely before icing – May seem obvious, but it is worthwhile noting!  We don’t want the icing melting off the loaf!

Icing Tips

  • Start with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice – You will be surprised to see how quickly powdered sugar turns to icing with a minimal amount of liquid.   Start with 2 teaspoons and add more to reach your desired icing consistency.
  • The icing consistency is similar to glue – If you want your icing to harden slightly on the surface, and stick on the loaf without running off into puddles, look for a consistency akin to school glue.  However, you could certainly thin it out more if you like.
Side view of a mini iced gluten free lemon loaf on a wood cutting board

Common Questions for Making Gluten Free Mini Iced Lemon Loaf

Can this recipe be doubled?

I haven’t tested a larger batch, so can’t say how it would turn out. If you try it, let me know!

Will a 1:1 gluten free flour blend work instead?

I don’t think so. In my experience, the 1:1 flour blends are much drier and require adjustments to other ingredients.

Can I substitute honey for the maple syrup?

Honey will not work as a direct substitute for maple syrup. Honey bakes differently. It usually requires a lower oven temp, longer bake time, and ingredient adjustments to balance the acidity. I have tested honey and it did not work well.

Will a different sweetener like granulated sugar or a sugar free sweetener work?

I have not tested a granulated sugar, so I can’t say how swapping it will work. My guess is the loaf will be too dry because the maple syrup is liquid.

I am grain free. Can I omit or substitute the rice flour for something else?

I have not tested it, but you could try swapping in arrowroot flour.

Why do I have to let the batter rest before baking?

In my testing with sweet rice flour, I find that the flour needs a little time to hydrate to yield to most desirable result. You could certainly pop the loaf in the oven right away, just know that the loaf may not have the same soft, dense, and moist texture.

What does the iced lemon loaf taste like?

It is delicately sweet and moist, yet dense like a loaf cake should be. And the lemon flavor is prominent! And a delicious copycat recipe for Starbuck’s lemon loaf!

The loaf seems to be stuck in the pan. How can I get it out?

Use a knife or offset spatula and run it along the side of the loaf to release it from the pan.

How do I store the mini lemon loaf?

The lemon loaf will last for about 2 to 3 days in a covered container at room temperature.

Slices of gluten free lemon loaf stacked on top of each other on a cutting board

More Small Batch Lemon Recipes

Top view of a loaf cake on a wood cutting board
Slices of gluten free lemon loaf with icing on wood cutting board
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5 from 1 review

Gluten Free Iced Lemon Loaf

Yield: 4
Gluten Free Mini Iced Lemon Loaf is a small batch, gluten free, and naturally sweetened version of the beloved coffeehouse iced lemon loaf!  The lemon loaf is made with fresh lemon, almond flour, sweet rice flour, cream cheese, and maple syrup for a soft, dense, and sublimely moist cake.
Prep15 mins
Cook32 mins
Total47 mins

Equipment

  • 1 – 3 x 5.5-Inch Mini Loaf Pan

Ingredients

Lemon Loaf

  • 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons sweet white rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch/flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons lemon zest - from one medium lemon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice - from half of the lemon

Lemon Icing

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice - from the other half of the lemon

Instructions

Lemon Loaf

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Grease the mini loaf pan – making sure to get into the corners.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, sweet white rice flour, tapioca flour/starch, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and butter. Using a hand held mixer, beat on medium high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Then add the vanilla extract, maple syrup, lemon zest, and lemon juice and beat until combined. Note – I used the zest of an entire medium lemon – which should yield about 3 teaspoons. You can use more or less, depending on how lemony you want the loaf. I do not recommend adding more lemon juice than indicated. Adding more may alter the texture of the loaf. Keep in mind the icing has lemon juice in it as well – you will taste lemon!
  • Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients. Using a spatula or whisk, mix until the batter is smooth and no dry streaks remain.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Let the batter rest in the pan for 5 minutes. This allows time for the batter to get hydrated. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until the loaf feels springy to the touch, a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, and the edges are starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and look golden.
  • Cool the mini loaf in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then carefully invert the loaf to the cooling rack to cool completely. If necessary, use a knife or offset spatula to run along the sides of the loaf to release it from the pan.

Lemon Icing

  • Once the loaf has cooled, make the icing. In a medium mixing bowl, add the powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Whisk to combine. Add more lemon juice, if necessary, to reach your desired icing consistency. You want it to be a little thick (like glue) so it doesn't completely run off the loaf. Allow the icing to set for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
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Notes

  • Mini Loaf Pan – This is the mini loaf pan I used.
  • Alternative Baking Pans – Because this is such a small loaf, I don’t recommend any other baking pan.  You could try baking in a 6-inch cake pan, however it will no longer be a loaf, it will be significantly thinner, and you will have to watch bake time – a thinner bake may not take as much time.
  • Maple Syrup Sweetener – I do not recommend swapping the maple syrup with honey.  Honey bakes much differently and would require adjustments to other ingredients.
 
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

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