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I love cakes that are flavoured with herbs, such as rosemary and fennel. The light aniseed flavour of basil gives a new dimension to a lemon cake. My other half loves lemon tarts and cakes, but I usually find them too sharp, so I’ve created this — an olive oil, almond sponge, made lighter with tapioca and given a herby aroma with the fresh basil. For any cake connoisseurs who want to make this even lighter, feel free to whip up the whites and all that jazz. I usually put the ingredients straight into the food processor and whizz away before stirring in the basil by hand. Bake as mini cakes or cupcakes, if you like — they’ll need less time in the oven. This is also delicious with limes, which are more cooling and less harsh than lemons.


  • 75ml (⅓ cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 280g (2½ cups) ground almonds
  • 95g (¾ cup) tapioca
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 20g (½ cup) fresh basil, torn, plus extra to decorate (optional)
  • 150g (¾ cup) jaggery or maple syrup
  • 60ml (¼ cup) lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 medium eggs
  • finely grated zest of 1 large lemon


  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 85g (¼ cup) raw honey
  • pinch of sea salt
  • zest of 1 large lemon (plus extra to decorate, optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan 160ºC/gas mark 4), and grease a 23cm (9in) round springform tin with olive oil.
  2. Mix together the ground almonds, tapioca, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together all the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Then add the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until well combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth with a wet spatula and bake for 30 minutes or more, until the middle is set and a toothpick comes out almost clean.
  4. Allow to cool completely in the tin. Meanwhile, make the glaze by whisking the ingredients together in a glass jug. Pour the glaze over the cake. Allow to stand for another 30 minutes.
  5. Carefully run a thin knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it, then transfer onto a plate to serve


I managed to get enough juice and zest for this recipe from 2 large lemons, but I’d recommend having a third lemon on hand just in case, especially if you are decorating with extra zest.

Jasmine Hemsley