Carolyn Robb’s lemon and thyme cake recipe

Made with yogurt and olive oil, this is incredibly light and moist. It is drenched in an aromatic, thyme-infused lemon syrup, which, once cool, forms a delicate, crisp sugary shell. Served with an abundance of berries, it makes a wonderful centrepiece for an afternoon tea in the garden. The aroma of fresh thyme will always bring back indelible memories of the gardens at Highgrove and of the joy of being able to pick fresh herbs moments before they were needed for a cake.

lemon and thyme cake
John Kernick

SERVES 10-12

Vegetable oil, for greasing
300g plain flour, plus more for dusting
180ml light olive oil
2 free-range eggs
200g plain Greek yogurt
250g caster sugar
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp baking powder

60ml fresh lemon juice
6 fresh lemon thyme or common thyme sprigs
125g granulated sugar

225g mixed strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and/or other seasonal berries
6 fresh lemon thyme or common thyme sprigs
Icing sugar, for dusting

  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4. Oil a 23cm ring cake tin, carefully covering the entire interior surface, then dust evenly with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, eggs, yogurt, caster sugar and lemon zest until well blended. Sift together the flour and baking powder directly into the bowl. Using a large metal spoon or a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture just until fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Bake the cake for about 30-35 minutes until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted at the centre comes out clean.
  3. While the cake is baking, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the lemon juice just until hot. Remove from the heat, add the thyme and leave to infuse for 20 minutes until cool. Remove and discard the thyme, then stir in the sugar until dissolved.
  4. When the cake is ready, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then, while the cake is still hot, carefully invert it on to a serving plate. Spoon the syrup over the warm cake, allowing it to run down the sides. Leave to stand until the syrup sets and the cake has cooled completely.
  5. To decorate, fill the centre with the fruits, scatter the thyme on the top and dust lightly with icing sugar. Serve at once.

Buy the book

tea at the palaceOur recipes are taken from Tea at the Palace: 50 Delicious Recipes for Afternoon Tea by Carolyn Robb (White Lion Publishing, £14.99). To order a copy for £12.74 until 13 June go to or call 020 3176 2937. Free p&p on orders over £20.