Lemon-elderflower cakes had their day in the sun when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry ordered one for their wedding in May. Most people have seen, if not eaten, a lemon cake in their lifetime, but the addition of elderflower flavor is relatively new, particularly in North America. In this recipe, which is adapted from the UK’s Belvoir Fruit Farms’ Elderflower and Lemon Drizzle Cake, the flavoring comes from lemon zest and juice, and a few tablespoons of St-Germain, a French liqueur made from elderflowers.
In Europe, the elderflower is used in many foods and drinks, but in the U.S. it is best known, if at all, as a floral accent in cocktails. Elderflower liqueur is somewhat rare, and that’s because its star-shaped white flowers are gathered from the hillsides in the French Alps during a short four-to-six-week period in spring. The picked flowers are quickly ushered to a collection depot, then carefully macerated to coax the delicate flavor into a refined liqueur.
Elderflower blossoms are maddeningly ephemeral—once picked they quickly lose their delicate fragrance and flavor—and with the limited season and frantic harvest one can understand why the liqueurs are so precious.
The cake pictured above was enjoyed early on the morning of May 19th (note crumbs). But it should not be limited to weddings, royal or not. It makes a bright, fresh summer dessert, perfect for outdoor dining.
- ½ pound butter, softened + 1 T. for greasing pan
- 1 C. granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- I C. all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ t. baking powder
- ½ t. salt
- zest and juice 1 lemon
- 4 fluid oz St-Germain liqueur or non-alcoholic Belvoir Fruit Farm Elderflower Cordial
- 2 T. granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8-inch round, deep, springform pan and line with baking parchment. Butter the parchment.
- Place the softened butter, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Use stand or hand mixer to beat the butter/sugar together until it is pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, whisking well between additions and adding 2 T. of the flour with the last egg–-this will prevent curdling.
- Sift together the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt, then sift the dry ingredients over the egg and butter mixture. Gently fold in with a spatula along with 2 T. hot water. Spoon into the prepared pan, level the surface, and bake for 45-50 mins. or until it is shrinking away from the sides of the pan. A fine skewer inserted in the center should come out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 mins.
- Squeeze the lemon juice, then sieve to remove the bits, and stir in the liqueur or cordial. Use a fine skewer to prick the cake all over. Brush syrup evenly over the cake, then sprinkle with sugar—it should sink in but leave a crunchy crust. Allow to cool completely before removing the cake from the pan. *
- Top with sweetened whipped cream and blackberries. Slice and serve.
* To make a layered cake, chill the cake after drizzling, then cut in half horizontally. Brush the top of the bottom layer with the elderflower-lemon syrup, then slather with sweetened whipped cream. Gently place the other half on top and add cover with mounds of the whipped cream. Fill the center with blackberries. Chill and serve.
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