How to make strawberry and lemon cake, topped with chamomile whipped cream

Melanie Johnson is here with what is ostensibly a cake, but is in fact a truck to drive straight through your early-summer diet plans. You'll be glad you gave in.

Our kitchen garden cook Melanie Johnson calls the strawberry the ‘quintessential queen of the summer kitchen garden’. It’s a perfect description of the fruit which is, if not everybody’s favourite, then surely in everybody’s top three.

Whether eaten freshly-picked and straight from the stalk or put in a more exotic concoction — as below — you really can’t go wrong.

The cake below is the sort of thing that will have people talking for weeks, but Melanie also has a tip for more simply-served strawberries which elevates them a few notches: simply drizzle with balsamic glaze and a light sprinkling of icing sugar. Toss and leave to macerate for an hour, by which time you’ll have the most delicious strawberries to enjoy with whipped cream or ice cream. Or whipped cream and ice cream. No judgement here.

Recipe: Strawberry and lemon cake with chamomile whipped cream


For the lemon syrup

  • 1 lemon, juice of (and zest, see below)
  • 25g golden caster sugar

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For the cake

  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest of
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tspn vanilla-bean paste
  • 50ml Greek yoghurt
  • 1tspn baking powder
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 200g strawberries, hulled and quartered (plus more, below)
  • 3tbspn strawberry jam

For the whipped cream

  • 1 handful chamomile flowers (or a tea bag with fresh flowers)
  • 475ml double cream
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 400g fresh strawberries to decorate and serve alongside


Preheat your oven to 160˚C fan/180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4 and grease two 20cm (8in) sandwich cake tins and add a parchment circle to the base of each.

To make the syrup, bring the lemon juice and sugar to the boil in a small saucepan. Simmer gently for five minutes and set aside.

In a large bowl, use your fingertips to rub the lemon zest into the caster sugar to release the oils. Cream the butter and lemon sugar together until pale and then mix in the eggs, one at a time, together with the vanilla paste and Greek yoghurt. Fold through the flour and baking powder and, finally, fold in the chopped strawberries. Divide between the prepared sandwich tins and bake for about 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven, invert onto a wire rack and brush with the lemon syrup.

To make the whipped cream, add the cream to a saucepan with the chamomile flowers and heat to near boiling. Remove from the heat and leave to steep for an hour. Strain into a bowl and then whisk to soft peaks, add the icing sugar and whisk to mix through.

Take one cake and brush it with strawberry jam. Arrange a layer of sliced fresh strawberries on top of the jam, pile on half the chamomile cream and then sandwich the other cake on top. Top with the rest of the whipped cream, decorate with more strawberries and finish with chamomile flowers (or daisies if using a tea bag).

Serve in a beautiful country garden with a pot of tea.