Saturday Baking: Nigel Slater’s Thyme & Lemon Cake

Nigel Slater's Thyme & Lemon Cake

Bear with me, I know the idea of thyme in a lemon cake might seem strange but it adds something truly special to it. I took this recipe from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries II, which I can’t recommend highly enough. I love the way he delights in simple good-quality ingredients and makes thoughtful unfussy food a real joy. He reminds me to take my time and enjoy cooking even simple dishes, something which is welcome when my days seem to be otherwise so frenetic.

Take my advice: turn the notifications off on your phone for half an hour and take the time to make yourself a fabulous cake this weekend. Oh and don’t forget to enjoy a slice of this moist and oh-so-tasty cake sitting in the sunshine… *bliss*

Nigel Slater's Thyme & Lemon Cake

Mmmm… isn’t she beautiful?


  • 200g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

For the drizzle:

  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 large lemons
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon on thyme leaves
Nigel Slater's Thyme & Lemon Cake

Straight out of the oven


  • Line a 20cm loaf tin with baking parchment and set your oven at 160 degrees C / Gas 3.
  • Cream butter and sugar in a mixer (or by hand) until light and fluffy.
  • Beat the eggs lightly and add to your butter and sugar mixture beating thoroughly so they don’t curdle.
  • Add the flour, baking powder and ground almonds.
  • Grate the zest from your lemon and put into a pestle with your thyme leaves and pound until you get a rough paste, then mix into your cake mix.
  • Spoon into your tin and bake for 45 minutes.
  • While the cake is baking dissolve your sugar, water and the juice of 2 lemons over a low heat and then add your thyme leaves (and flowers too if you have them).
  • When the cake comes out of the oven prick it all over and drizzle the syrup all over.
  • Leave to cool before slicing and devouring.
Nigel Slater's Thyme & Lemon Cake

In need of some drizzling

Nigel Slater's Thyme & Lemon Cake

Drizzle applied…

Nigel Slater's Thyme & Lemon Cake

… and soaking in (it smells just wonderful at this point)

Nigel Slater's Thyme & Lemon CakeNigel Slater's Thyme & Lemon Cake Nigel Slater's Thyme & Lemon CakeNigel Slater's Thyme & Lemon Cake

11 thoughts on “Saturday Baking: Nigel Slater’s Thyme & Lemon Cake

  1. Pingback: 3 Tea Breads / 3 Tebrød | RecipeReminiscing

  2. Tracy

    Hi, I hope you don’t mind me saying but I have just googled this recipe after watching Nigel make this a couple of days ago… I specifically remember him saying that he uses golden castor sugar as it makes a nice colouring in the cake ( even though I know as a new baker that it would make no difference to the overall outcome ).. and to cook for 20 mins and not the 45 you specify. Also you do not say which kind of butter to use.. unsalted or salted. I presume as with most cakes it would be unsalted but I do feel that for complete beginners if you are going to put others recipes on your site you should say exactly.

    • MisaA

      A cake this size wouldn’t bake in 20 mins. And as with all sweet cakes I’ve ever made you use unsalted butter unless it’s a savoury bake.

    • Mary, WHV

      I think he did use golden caster sugar, but I didn’t have any and used regular white caster sugar. I’d much rather list the exact ingredients I used to make the cake I photographed. As you say, it wouldn’t make much difference to the final cake. Unsalted butter is better for this cake, but it doesn’t make an enormous difference, either will do the job perfectly well. The cake definitely needs 40-45 minutes as it is cooked at a low temperature, it would be a half-risen soggy mess if you stopped after just 20 mins! :)

  3. Tracy

    p.s It is also 2 large lemons for the cake recipe and you only use the zest and not the juice. The juice of the lemons is used for the drizzle.. dissapointed…

    • Mary, WHV

      Hi Tracy
      Thanks for your comments – the recipe is the version I used and may not be exactly the same as the recipe you found. I can’t remember whether I adapted it after trying it out before, it was a while ago now. I used normal caster sugar and that cooking time etc so I shared the version I used to get the results in the photos :)


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