Nigel Slater's Lemon and Thyme Cake

Allotment Cakes for the Weekend #1: Nigel Slater’s Lemon and Thyme Cake

Nigel Slater's Lemon and Thyme CakeI seem to have declared my weekly allotment based cake making year at the worst time. The stores are empty, and my rhubarb is still a few weeks from picking. I’ve had to go leftfield and see what’s available in the herb garden.

Fortunately for me, my cherished thyme plant is still looking green and lush despite being unprotected over the winter. I love this thyme plant – I grew it from seed, and the day that the plant dies off will be a sad one.

I’m in the middle of a Nigel Slater idolisation period. He’s brilliant. Whether Nigel is inspiring me to make cakes for visitors, or just being utterly awesome by taking the time to respond to followers on Twitter, I’m thinking he’s great. Therefore, it seems appropriate to begin my cake-making adventure with a Nige recipe, and with a few sprigs of thyme to hand, I’m delving head first into his Lemon and Thyme cake.

Ingredients
200g butter
200g golden caster sugar
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
4 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp thyme leaves

For the topping, you’ll need 4 tablespoons of sugar, juice of two large lemons, and ½ teaspoon of thyme leaves.

Method
1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. Line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
2. Cream the butter with the sugar in a food mixer until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl sift together the flour and baking powder then mix with the almonds.
3. Lightly beat the eggs then fold them into the butter mixture in two or three sessions, beating them in thoroughly each time. If the mixture looks as if it is about to curdle, stir in some of the flour.
4. Grate the zest from the lemon and mix it with the thyme leaves. Pound the two together with a pestle, or some other heavyweight, and stir into the cake mixture.
5. Gradually mix in the flour, baking powder, and almonds.
6. Spoon the cake mixture into the lined tin and bake for 45 minutes (if dividing the mixture into smaller tins reduce the time accordingly).
7. For the topping, dissolve the sugar in the juice of the lemons over a moderate heat and stir in the thyme leaves (a few flowers would be good here too). As the cake comes from the oven, spike the surface with a skewer and spoon over the syrup.
8. Leave to cool and serve in slices with thick yoghurt.

Verdict in 2 Sentences
A thyme is forever, not just for Christmas. Or more specifically, thyme is for moist, fluffy lemon drizzle cakes, not just roast dinners.

Not that I’m one of the question professional chefs, but what would I do if I did it again?
I’d add more herbs to the cake. The thyme is quite delicate in the cake, and I did find myself searching for the taste a little.

Other people’s attempts
Yumblog.co.uk: Dense moist lemon with a twist of thyme. Drink with tea in the finest bone china.

Eatingadelaide.com: had to cook the cake for a lot longer than suggested (I’d agree with this – I needed longer than 45 minutes in my fan oven). Absolutely delicious.

Beantobeauty.wordpress.com: I separated the eggs… it really works every time and I swear it makes the cake extra fluffy. Filled my kitchen with a lovely lemony scent.

3 thoughts on “Allotment Cakes for the Weekend #1: Nigel Slater’s Lemon and Thyme Cake”

  1. I have done the cake several times on 160C…but today…after making other cakes on 180…I found out that this works perfect..and ready in 55 minutes…
    I really Love this cake..and the 2 which I made today are for a Big Party from my Best friends..

  2. DELICIOUS, moist, light and lemony, with a hint of the thyme which is a brilliant addition. I doubled the amount of thyme and it took an hour to cook perfectly at 160, but totally worth the wait. My children helped make it and loved eating it too…will definitely make again.

  3. Oh dear! I put so much trust in Nigel Slater’s recipe that I didn’t test the cake for the doneness and poured the syrup straight after it took it out of the oven. I ended up with a runny, lava like substance. I’ll try again but with much longer baking time.

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