Vegan Lemon Sponge Bars


These bars are the perfect mix of melt-in-your-mouth sponge cake, a rich chocolate base, and a tangy lemon topping. They’re super-easy to make, but they look like they belong at a fancy vegan high tea!

Prep time: 20 mins | Bake time: 17 mins | Makes 10 to 12 bars

Lemon Cake Bars.


For the sponge cake:
60 g vegan butter, cubed, at room temperature
60 g veggie shortening at room temperature
120 g icing sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp almond essence
180 g plain flour
20 g corn flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
300 ml soy milk at room temperature
2 Tbsp white vinegar

For the lemon curd topping:

45 g vegan butter
40 g corn flour
130 ml lemon juice
60 ml water
65 g white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean extract
Pinch salt

For the base:

300g high-quality vegan dark chocolate, tempered


  • To make the sponge cake, preheat the oven to 160°C and very lightly grease a silicone mould with rectangular or square cups.
  • Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the vegan butter and the shortening together on low speed until combined. Sieve in the sugar, add the vanilla and almond essence, and beat until light and fluffy, taking care not to over-mix.
  • In a large bowl, sieve together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well and set aside.
  • In another bowl, mix together the soy milk and vinegar and let sit until slightly thickened.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture then the soy milk mixture to the butter mixture, beating on low speed until just combined.
  • Spoon into the mould cups, filling each just over halfway.
  • Bake for 27 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer pushed into the centre of one of the cakes comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool in the tray.
  • To make the lemon curd topping, melt the vegan butter in small saucepan.
  • Remove from the heat and mix in the flour to form a paste.
  • Warm over medium heat and add the remaining ingredients, stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved and the curd thickens.
  • Remove from the heat and pour gently over each bar. Tap the tray to even out the curd, then allow to cool and set completely.
  • Gently push each bar out of the tray, set aside, and clean the tray.
  • To make the chocolate base, pour the chocolate into the mould cups, just covering the bottom of each, and let set completely.
  • Push out of the tray and place the lemon bars on top. If you have leftover chocolate, you can make curls or shapes to decorate with (as in the photo).

*Note: If you want perfectly square bars, use a silicone mould. If you don’t have one, you can use a normal tin and pour the curd over the top of the cakes once removed rather than adding it while they’re in the tray.

Lemon Icing.

Vegan Baking Tip: Not Every Cake Needs Egg Replacer

This maybe a little controversial, but not every vegan cake needs egg replacer. Shock! Horror! Loads of recipes benefit from it, but it’s not always needed. Making sure you have good-quality raising agents is as important as the type of egg replacer you use – if any.

Both baking powder and baking soda are chemical leavening agents that cause batter to rise when baked. In the above recipe, these ingredients are one of the main reasons the cake is very light and fluffy. These agents can go bad and become “inactive”, however. Here are two simple ways to test whether they’re still good:

  • Test baking powder by adding 1/2 teaspoon to warm water. If it fizzes, it’s good. If it’s dead in the water, you need new baking powder.
  • Put a few teaspoons of white distilled vinegar in a cup and add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. If it fizzes, it’s good. If it doesn’t, you need new baking soda.

Sara Kidd has completed courses with some of the best mainstream cake designers, including Thao Pham, Stevi Auble, Katherine Sabbath, Kara Andretta, Zoe Byres, and the trainers at The Australian Patisserie Academy in Sydney. She worked in the film industry for 15 years and has launched her own retro-themed baking show on YouTube called Bake Vegan Stuff With Sara Kidd.