Food and Drink: A summery cake that’s just perfect for eating outdoors - says food writer Diana Henry

Diana Henry
Diana Henry

This is a pale pudding - soft green and cream - which seems just right for early summer," says food writer Diana Henry. "I serve it with extra gooseberries, poached, but you don’t have to."

step one

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Butter a 20cm springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.

step two

Beat the butter and the 125g of caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mixture starts to curdle, add one tablespoon of the flour.

Put the lemon thyme leaves in a mortar with the lemon zest and pound together to release the fragrance. Add to the batter and briefly mix.

step three

Fold in the rest of the flour, the almonds and the baking powder, using a large metal spoon. Scrape into the tin. Toss the gooseberries with the remaining five tablespoons of caster sugar and spread over the top. Bake for 30 minutes. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

step four

To make the syrup, quickly heat the granulated sugar, lemon juice and lemon thyme leaves in a saucepan, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Pierce the cake all over with a skewer while it is still warm and slowly pour the syrup into it. Leave to cool a little, then carefully remove from the tin.

step five

Meanwhile, make the poached gooseberries. Heat 175ml of water, the granulated sugar and lemon thyme together in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the gooseberries and cook over a medium heat for four minutes, or until the fruit is soft but not collapsing (most of the berries should still hold their shape). Leave to cool.

step six

Any thyme flowers you have will look lovely on top of the cake. You can leave it as it is, or dust lightly with icing sugar just before serving, with sweetened creme fraiche or whipped cream and the poached gooseberries on the side.

How To Eat A Peach by Diana Henry, photography by Laura Edwards, is published in hardback by Mitchell Beazley, priced £25 (octopusbooks.co.uk)

Delicious.magazine tips: Technique: How to make scotch eggs

1. Mix 500g good-quality sausagemeat with 1 tsp ground allspice and the leaves of 4-5 fresh thyme sprigs in a medium bowl until well combined. Cover with cling film, then chill for 30 minutes.

2. Put 6 medium free-range eggs (at room temperature) in a large pan of boiling water and cook for 6 minutes exactly. Drain, cool under running water, then shell. Divide the chilled meat into 6 equal portions, roll each into a ball with floured hands, then flatten into a disc.

3. Put a disc of meat in your palm, then put an egg on top. Cup the meat around the egg, then use your other hand to enclose the egg completely. Set aside. Repeat with the eggs and meat.

4. Put 100g plain flour, 3 lightly beaten free-range eggs and 250g dried breadcrumbs in 3 separate shallow bowls. Roll a scotch egg in the flour. Dip it next into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs, shaking to remove the excess at each step. Roll lightly in your hands to press in the breadcrumbs. Set aside, then repeat with the other eggs.

5. Fill a deep pan three-quarters full with sunflower oil, then heat to 170°C (we recommend you use a digital probe thermometer). Deep-fry the eggs in pairs for 7-8 minutes until deep golden.

6. Serve while still warm – the yolk should be firm but still runny.