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Whole-lemon and labne cheesecake with honey and thyme syrup

Begin this recipe two days ahead.

By Max Adey
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs 5 mins cooking (plus cooling, resting)
  • Serves 10 - 12
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Whole-lemon and labne cheesecake with honey and thyme syrup
The addition of honey and labne to this recipe incorporates a Middle Eastern flavour profile to this classic cheesecake. It's also topped with a thyme and honey syrup, to introduce a subtle, herbaceous note to the dish.


  • 750 gm Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 large lemon (180gm)
  • 150 gm (1½ cups) walnuts
  • 300 gm shortbread biscuits
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped thyme
  • 70 gm butter, melted
  • 200 gm caster sugar
  • 500 gm cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Manuka flowers, to serve
Caramelised honey and thyme syrup
  • 150 gm honey
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed


  • 1
    Line a fine sieve with muslin and set over a deep bowl. Add yoghurt; fold up edges of muslin and tie a knot to secure. Refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight to drain. Transfer labne to a bowl; discard liquid; keep chilled until ready to use.
  • 2
    Place lemon in a saucepan, add enough water to cover and bring to the boil. Cover with a plate to weigh down lemon. Reduce heat to low-medium; cook until tender (1 hour). Drain, cool and chop, discarding seeds.
  • 3
    Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C. Spread out walnuts on an oven tray lined with baking paper and roast until golden (15-18 minutes); cool.
  • 4
    Grease a 23cm-diameter springform cake tin, and line base and side with baking paper. Process shortbread, walnuts, thyme and ½ tsp salt flakes in a food processor until finely chopped. Add melted butter and process to a sandy texture. Using a flat-based glass, press mixture evenly over base and up the side of tin; place in the freezer until base is firm (10 minutes).
  • 5
    Reduce oven to 160°C. Meanwhile, process chopped lemon and sugar in a food processor, scraping down side, until very smooth. Add cream cheese and 400gm labne; process until very smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down side between each addition until combined. Add flour and lemon juice; process until smooth. Pour mixture into crust and bake until filling sets around edge but centre still has a slight wobble (45-55 minutes). Cool
    in oven with oven door ajar (2 hours). Refrigerate overnight to set completely.
  • 6
    For honey and thyme syrup, cook honey in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until lightly caramelised (3-4 minutes). Remove from heat, add remaining ingredients, swirling pan to combine (be careful, mixture will spit). Cool to room temperature.
  • 7
    To serve, place cheesecake on a large platter or cake plate, drizzle with honey syrup and scatter with manuka flowers.