Lemon and Olive Oil Cake with Thyme

Now I know you’re probably thinking: is this a cake recipe? Because it sounds more like a roast chicken. But just trust me ok?

Lemon, Olive Oil and Thyme are such good buddies. They have everything: sweet, sour, savoury and bitter. The use of oil in place of butter in the cake batter is great because it adds moisture to the cake, which in turn increases its shelf life. It also gives the cake a really nice, light texture. I’ve used extra virgin olive oil for a more distinct flavour, but if this sounds a bit far out for you, just use light olive oil or even vegetable oil. I love the fragrant Thyme in this recipe, bringing a rather grown up, more complex flavour to what is essentially just a Lemon Drizzle cake. I only had common garden thyme, but if you’ve got lemon thyme growing in your garden then even better!

Lemon and Olive Oil Cake with Thyme


  • 100g ground almonds
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 200g Olive oil
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • Zest of 2 lemons

For the syrup:

  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 100g water
  • 150g sugar
  • Handful of fresh thyme

For the Icing:

  • 200g icing sugar

Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 4/ 160 degrees c

Grease and line a 1lb loaf tin

  1. Place all of your dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir together to combine.
  2. Add the olive oil, eggs and lemon zest and mix well.
  3. Pour batter into the prepared baking tin.
  4. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden on top and springy. Insert a knife or skewer to check if you’re not sure.
  5. While the cake is baking, make your syrup. Place the lemon juice, water and caster sugar into a sauce pan. Heat gently and stir to dissolve the sugar and add the fresh thyme (stalks and all).
  6. Continue heating until the syrup reaches 110 degrees c (it should have reduced a little and gone syrupy….obviously).
  7. When the cake comes out of the oven, remove from its tin and place on a cooling rack with a tray underneath. Use a tooth pick to pierce several holes in the top of the cake.
  8. Spoon over approximately 3/4 of your syrup.
  9. To make the icing, sift the icing sugar and add your reserved syrup a teaspoon at a time, until the icing is smooth. It should be thick enough to drizzle elegantly down the sides of your cake, but not so runny that it decorates your floor. Add some minced thyme leaves for extra flavour.
  10. When the cake is completely cool, place on your serving plate and pour the icing straight down the middle. You may not need all of it. Decorate your cake with lemon zest, flaked almonds, sprigs of thyme and edible flowers.
  11. Enjoy in the garden on a sunny afternoon with Earl Grey tea.


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