Lemon and Thyme Cake


I have just ended up with a pile of lemons and a surfeit of eggs. I’m working my way through both … slowly.

I spotted this recipe for a lemon and thyme cake about a month ago and I invariably find Nigel Slater’s cake recipes flawless (his chocolate brownie recipe is fantastic). I am also a sucker for cakes using ground almonds and cakes dredged in syrup when they come out of the oven … Of course, being a lemon and thyme cake … I now have an excess of thyme hanging around the house.

As I was using my trusty Magimix I took some short cuts with Slater’s method … but if you don’t bake a lot or you’re doing the hard work by hand, I’d defer to his recipe rather than what follows …

Preheat oven to 160°C. Slater doesn’t specify if this is normal or fan forced but, as I opted for normal bake and had to cook the cake for a lot longer than suggested, I think it’s fan forced. Grease a 1lb loaf tin and line with baking paper (yes, actually do this!).

Cream 200g butter with 200g caster sugar, and then add 100g plain flour, ½ tsp baking powder and 100g ground almonds. I always mix between each addition. Then add 4 large eggs. Finish by adding the finely grated zest of one large lemon (depending on how much you like lemon) and approximately 1 tsp of finely chopped fresh thyme leaves (you really can’t go the dried route here).

This makes a really thick batter so you’re going to have to spoon it in to the tin, rather than pour. Don’t be alarmed.

Slater says to bake for 45 mins. At 160°C, no fan, this wasn’t long enough and I ended up baking for just over an hour. If you can, opt for 160°C fan forced, or try 180°C in a normal oven.

Just before the cake finishes baking, make the syrup. In a pan over a moderate heat, dissolve 4 tbsp of caster sugar in the juice of 2 large lemons, adding in ½ tsp of thyme leaves. Make sure the sugar dissolves but don’t bring the mix to the boil. This did make a generous amount of syrup (not that it worried the cake) so don’t be too fussed about sourcing huge lemons!

When the cake comes out of the oven, take a long skewer and poke holes all over the cake, all the way to the bottom and then drizzle the syrup over the cake evenly, before allowing to cool in the tin.

Because you did use the baking paper to line the tin, when the cake is cool simply pull it out of the tin and cut in generous slices. Slater suggests serving with thick yoghurt but you don’t even need that.

Absolutely delicious – and I think it took me longer to do the dishes than put the cake together!