Lemon drizzle cake is one of those cakes that seems to have always been around. There are countless recipes, each with their own twist, but when baked with rosemary it is particularly delicious. I first tried this combination at the E5 Bakehouse in London – theirs was made with polenta – and I just had to make a version of my own.

Because this is made with ground almonds, it’s gluten-free, too. And in the event that there are leftovers (as if!), this will last a good week or so in an airtight tin. 


Ingredients - serves 8 

  • 6 large eggs
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 3 large lemons
  • 300g ground almonds
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary

The Essentials

  • 50ml water 


Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas mark 3. Grease and line with baking paper a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin. 

Separate 5 of the eggs placing the whites into one bowl and the yolks into another. Put the remaining whole egg into the bowl with the yolks and add 300g of the sugar and the zest of all 3 lemons. Whisk the yolks and sugar until the sugar more or less dissolves into the yolks, then beat in the almonds. This will be an almost impossibly thick batter, but that is normal.

Using a clean whisk, whisk the egg whites to fairly stiff peaks. Scoop one third of the egg white into the yolk mixture and beat vigorously to slacken. Gently fold the remaining egg white into the batter using a spatula or large metal spoon, being careful not to deflate the whites. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45–50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out fairly clean – there may be the odd moist crumb on there.

While the cake bakes, make the syrup. Put the remaining sugar into a saucepan with the juice of all 3 lemons, the water and the rosemary sprigs. Bring to a boil, stirring. Boil for 1 minute, then set aside until the cake is baked.

As soon as the baked cake comes out of the oven, stab the cake repeatedly with a skewer, then pour the syrup over the top and leave it to soak in while the cake cools completely, in the tin. 

Recipe taken from John's book, Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients. Buy here. 



My take on another American classic, though with a nostalgic nod to those sweeties of my British childhood: chocolate limes. 

Ingredients (serves 6-8)


For the biscuit base 

  • 220g bourbon biscuits 
  • 50g salted butter 

For the filling 

  • 397g can condensed milk 
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Zest of 4 limes
  • 150ml lime juice (4-6 limes’ worth) 

Essential equipment 

  • 20cm/8-inch fluted loose-bottomed tart tin 


Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4.

Place the bourbon biscuits and butter in a food processor and blitz to a dark sandy rubble. Tip this into the tart tin and press it down to compact it on the base and up the sides, as evenly as possible. Pop this in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling, place the condensed milk, yolks, lime zest and juice in a mixing bowl and beat together. Pour that into the chilled biscuit base and then bake for 20–25 minutes, or until when nudged it trembles only slightly, but is substantially more solid than before it went in the oven.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, before refrigerating for at least 2 hours before serving. 





  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g caster sugar
  • Leaves from 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 200g fresh rhubarb, cut into 5mm chunks
  • 180g white chocolate chips

Essential equipment

  • 23cm/9-inch square baking tin, greased and lined with baking paper (or use a 23cm/9-inch square disposable foil container) 


Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/Gas 4.

Place the butter, sugar and thyme in a mixing bowl and beat together until the sugar has dissolved into the butter, and the mixture is pale and fluffy. You can do this in a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well after each addition, adding the vanilla with the last egg. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over the top and fold in, then fold in the rhubarb and white chocolate chips.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35–40 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean – though don’t mistake a bit of soggy rhubarb or melted white chocolate for uncooked cake batter. Allow to cool in the tin.  



On one of my particularly greedy afternoons, I was nibbling on a batch of – admittedly, shop-bought – coconut macarons, and thought they were a little dry. I raided the fridge and found cream cheese and lime curd, so I put them both to good use. The idea for this came instantly, and the next day I had to get down to work. The trick to an utterly toothsome macaroon base is to combine the coconut with melted marshmallows before baking. And since marshmallows are a great setting agent, I used them for the filling, too, so there is no need to bake that. 

Ingredients - serves 10 

  • 360g white mini marshmallows
  • 300g desiccated coconut
  • 300g good-quality lime curd
  • 450g full-fat cream cheese
  • Zest of 1 lime 


Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base and sides of a 23cm springform cake tin.

For the coconut macaroon base, put 180g of the marshmallows into a heatproof bowl with 1 tablespoon of water. Set over a pan of barely simmering water and stir until the marshmallows melt into a thick goo. Add the coconut – still over the heat – and stir until well coated in the marshmallow melt. Tip into the cake tin and press it over the base and up the sides. I find it far easier when I grease my hands with a little oil, and I prefer a more rustic, uneven edge (see picture). Bake the base in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. This will puff up a little, so as soon as it comes out of the oven, press it down gently to compact it. Allow to cool.

For the filling, repeat the marshmallow melting process with the remaining 180g marshmallows and another tablespoon of water. Once melted, remove from the heat and beat in the lime curd, then beat in the cream cheese – it’s easier to do this with a whisk but don’t whisk to aerate, just vigorously mix until smooth. Pour the lling into the cooled coconut base and refrigerate overnight. Don’t be impatiently prodding this or prematurely slicing it; just forget about it until it sets completely. Sprinkle over the lime zest before serving. 

Recipe taken from John's book, Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients. Buy here.