Thursday, June 5, 2014

Elderflower Cake with Strawberry Filling


When you are spending the day outside, surrounded by amazing smells and beautiful plants, the mind begins to wander. While we drove home from the Heritage Plant and Flower Show that I blogged about yesterday, I noticed a lot of elders, a common roadside tree around here.




Despite the very early appearance of this year's blossoms, there are still some blossoms to be found these days. The blossoms normally continue until the middle of June, gradually becoming harder to find as they transform themselves into that other hedgerow treat – the elderberry. The elder is a very easy plant to identify but there are one or two plants that may be mistaken for elderflowers at a glance. Take a look at the photograph here if you are unsure, but if it smells of elderflowers then that is what it is.




Elderflower has unique aromatics and when I start the very first picking session in our garden, trying to reach as many clusters of flowers as possible (I am by no means what you would call a tall person), the smell reminds me of drinking the elderflower cordial the previous summer.

Elderflowers are for everybody. Yet they still seem to be a seriously under-used resource. Elderflower cordial makes the most wonderful drink when diluted with water or sparkling wine, but it is also a superb cupboard ingredient to add a unique fragrant twist to all sorts of wonderful cakes, tarts and puddings. Apart from making elderflower cordial, wine, champagne, and vinegar, elderflowers have a great many other uses. Like one of my all time favorites and a rather unique treat that my grand-mother always made, namely those unique elderflower fritters. My favorite recipe for those lovely elderflower fritters, can be found here.




If you plan on using elderflowers for your baking, cooking, jam or juice making, make sure to choose elderflowers that have fully opened and still have cream colored florets. If possible, you should pick them on a sunny morning. They break away easily from the fork between two leaves and you can collect a huge number in just a few minutes. Elderflowers do not thrive in captivity so get to work as soon as you arrive home.




This elderflower cake is a delightful and delicate teatime treat. It is airy, light, and sweet, but this cake is also armatic from the homemade elderflower cordial in both the icing and the strawberry filling. You can also vary the filling and add some tart rhubarb to the sweet strawberry mix, rhubarb is wonderful in combination with the aromatic flavors of the elderflower, and there is still some late season rhubarb to be found at the green grocers around here.




Elderflower Cake with Strawberry Filling
(inspired by the Heritage Plant and Garden Show and a recipe from Inaki Aizpitarte)

Ingredients for the Cake
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled, plus more for the cake pan
  • 1 cup super fine (baking) sugar, plus more for pan
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups AP (plain) flour, sifted
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 6 eggs (L), organic or free range



Ingredients for the Strawberry Filling
  • 450 grams (1 pound) local strawberries, washed, hulled, quartered (you could also add some late season rhubarb to the jam filling)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsps elderflower cordial (preferably homemade)



Ingredients for the Icing
  • 2  cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsps cream (or more)
  • 1 tbsp elderflower cordial (preferably homemade)
  • freshly picked elderflowers ( for serving), optional



Preparation of the Cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Butter a 23 cm (9") - diameter springform cake pan and sprinkle generously with sugar, shake off excess.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Set aside.
  4. Whisk eggs, 1 cup sugar and pure vanilla sugar in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water (take care as the bowl should not touch water).
  5. Heat, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, about 4 minutes.
  6. Remove bowl from heat and, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg mixture until it is pale and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.
  7. Gently fold reserved dry ingredients into egg mixture in 3 additions, then fold in melted butter.
  8. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
  9. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.
  10. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan before turning out.



Preparation of the Strawberry Filling and Icing
  1. Bring strawberries, sugar, and 2 tbsps elderflower cordial to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
  2. Crush berries with a spoon to release more juices and simmer until berries are completely soft and mixture resembles a coarse jam, about  5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool completely.
  3. Using a long serrated knife, slice cake in half horizontally.
  4. Spread cooled strawberry mixture over bottom layer of cake and place top layer over strawberry mixture.
  5. Whisk powdered sugar, remaining 1 tbsp elderflower cordial, and cream in a medium bowl. Thin icing with more cream as needed (it should be pourable).
  6. Place cake on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and pour icing over cake.
  7. Spread with an offset spatula to smooth top and let drip down the sides.
  8. Let stand at room temperature until set, at least 30 minutes.
  9. Decorate with elderflowers, if using, just before serving. NOTE: This cake can be made one day ahead. It should be stored covered at room temperature - but then leave the elderflowers off just until serving.
NOTE: Please do keep in mind that while elederflowers can be consumed raw and uncooked, elderberries cannot!




There is a lot of superstition associated with elder trees, which have been thought to have magical qualities. An elderflower tree is also meant to protect the household from evil if planted nearby and is apparently never struck by lightening – good to know, we have an elder tree in our garden.


"Respect your elders..."




36 comments:

  1. What a lovely cake Andrea, the strawberry filling looks perfect for this. I did not know the elder flowers were edible. It certainly makes sense. I am learning so much about plants lately. Thanks!

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    1. Cheri, how nice that you enjoy learning about these things - hope I am not talking too much about all those plants...thank you for your kind words! And, yes, the elderflower blossoms are edible - although you would consume only small amounts of them raw anyways. But you should never, ever eat the elderberries uncooked - they have to be cooked before consumption.

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  2. Oh Andrea, this cake is so gorgeous! It looks so innocent from the outside and when you cut the first slice, it's plain delightful :)
    I have never tried elderflowers, would it be possible to buy them in the supermarkets?
    Hope everything is well with you,
    Viele liebe Grüße aus München!
    Inês

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    1. Dear Inês, no, unfortunately it is not possible to sell elderflowers in the supermarket. After you cut them from the tree, they start to wilt almost immediately - but since you are presently living in lovely Munich, I am quite sure that you should be able to find them around town, in one of the many parks growing wild - how about that famous "Englischer Garten" I read in an article that there are some elder trees there - by the way, that park is 225 years old this year, unbelievable but true. Good luck when searching for some elderflowers but you should hurry, the season is coming to an end fast. Or maybe you are lucky and your neighbour has an elder tree in his backyard...
      Liebe Grüße nach München - ich hoffe, dass Wetter bei euch ist gut!
      Andrea

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  3. OMG...this cake looks so elegant! I love that you use elderflower in the strawberry filling...not only sound heavenly, looks gorgeous! I would love a slice of this cake...
    Hope you are having a great week Andrea :D

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    1. Juliana, thank you kindly - the look is what got me first too - I love that all white look from the outside and the wonderful bright red strawberry jam in side. And this cake is an absolute delight to eat as well.

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  4. A very tempting and gorgeous looking cake indeed...no elderflower here to be picked unfortunately:P

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    1. Jeannie - lots of elderflowers to be picked around here but the season is coming to an end - unfortunately. By the way, this cake tastes absolutely delicious without the addition of fresh elderflowers on top and good quality elderflower cordial (for the filling as well as the icing) is widely available online. Thank you for stopping by!

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  5. Yummie :-) Die Blüten lassen den Kuchen so elegant aussehen. Ein herrlicher Kuchen für ein Kaffeetrinken im Garten. Ich bin sehr inspiriert :-)

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    1. Liebe Wally, inspiriert ist immer gut...ha...auf jeden Fall kann man diesen Kuchen auch mit nicht selbstgemachten Holunderblüten-Sirup backen (gibt ja jede Menge gute auch online zu kaufen) und einfach die Blüten auf dem Kuchen weglassen - dann schmeckt der Kuchen immer noch wunderbar! Nicht jeder hat ja einen Holunderblüten-Busch im Garten.
      Lieben Dank für deinen netten Kommentar und noch einen schönen Freitag und liebe Grüße aus dem sehr sonnigen und warmen Bonn,
      Andrea

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  6. Your cake is gorgeous, Andrea! I have an Elderberry bush in my yard…can’t wait to get some flowers! They should be ready in a week or two. I picked up a recipe for Elderberry syrup just a few weeks ago!

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    1. Kathy, this is presently my very favorite cake of all to make - I am jealously guarding the last of the elderflower crop to make this lovely cake one more time before all elderflowers will start to turn into elderberrries.

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  7. I love the white on white. Just beautiful, Andrea!

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    1. Cathleen, how very nice of you - thank you for the compliment!

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  8. Hi Andrea,such an adorable,tender cake and elder flowers sprinkled on top look beautiful....we are so excited to try those flower fritters out...going to try them out really soon and this cake is a must bake for this weekend,thanks so much for sharing such inspiring recipes :-)

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    1. Kumar, those fritters are an absolute delight and always take me back straight to my childhood and wonderful times spent at my grandma´s house! Thank you for all your lovely comments! Very much appreciated!

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  9. This post has me wondering if elderflowers can grow here in the desert. My fear is that they cannot, and I will simply need to use elderflower liqueur to make this wonderful and absolutely gorgeous cake. NExt to lemon desserts, cakes with fruit fillings like this are a favorite. I will try it and let you know how it comes out. Liebe Grüße aus immer sonnigem und sehr heißem Tucson. ~ David

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    1. David, probably not as elder trees agree with shady spots rather than the bright sunshine of the desert - Schade! I am absolutely crazy about the elder trees, the blossoms and the berries - right now I can see jam recipes and pies with elderberries in the future.
      Lieben Dank für deine herzlichen Worte!
      Euch beiden ein schönes Wochenende,
      Andrea

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  10. You made another beautiful treat, Andrea! Your family is surely lucky to have you :)! I have never seen those flowers before, they're gorgeous and would certainly make great garnish as well - what do they taste like?

    Schönes Wochenende wünsche ich dir :).

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    1. Well, one of my very favorite cook describes the smell as follows: " The smell of the blossom is, like that of spreading lavender honey on hot toast, the essence of the English summer Miss Marple might have known. Of cricket matches and policemen on bikes, village greens and shady, leafy lanes." To me, they smell a little like "muscat grapes", quite a unique smell (and taste). Love it!
      Ganz lieben Dank für deinen wunderbaren Kommentar und auch dir ein schönes Wochenende,
      Andrea

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  11. When we moved back to Colorado, 4 years ago, we were renting a house. The house next door, had an elder tree in their yard and all the flowers band berries hung over into ours. I didn't notice this elder tree till the following year and still kick myself for letting all that time go by without using the goodies! We now live somewhere else and I don't see many elders around. Still kicking myself. This cake is absolutely beautiful, Andrea. It sounds delicious and looks beautiful. Perfect for a spring tea party, preferably with good blogger friends :)

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    1. Nazneen, this would indeed be perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon with wonderful and kind blogging friends! Thanyk you for the kind comment!

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  12. So so soooooooo pretty! I am not familiar with the name Elderflower so I checked dictionary but I'm not even familiar with Japanese name. xD The white elegant flower makes a beautiful topping on the cake! The strawberry filling adds a nice accent for the color and flavor! I love it!

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    1. Nami, I am not sure that elderflowers grow in Japan, they are quite common in EU though - but this cake can be made using only elderflower cordial (which is easy to find only) sans the fresh flowers.

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  13. I am not sure if elderflower is common here in Queensland as it is so hot and humid so I will have to try to buy some of the cordial to try. This cake looks beautiful and I am so intrigued to know what elderflower tastes like!

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    1. Karen, I really am not sure about the elder tree growing outside EU - have not found reliable info on that but I do know that this cake is equally nice without the elderflowers as a garnish and with a good-quality elderflower syrup that you could order online. The smell is exacly as I described above...sounds nice and is great...one of my favorite smells of spring.

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  14. Happy Friday, Andrea doll!
    I don't know how I missed this post. The pics are drool-worthy, as usual. Just so lovely and now I'm so curious about elder flower. I have to hit the market and find some to make the cordial for the filling.
    Wishing you and your sweet family a very relaxing w/end. xo

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    1. Dear Colette, this was such a lovely, seasonal cake - pure joy in each bite if I may say so. We also enjoyed how the final cake looked like - thank you for your fabulous comment! Elderflowers are not sold at the market, they wilt almost immediately when you pick them but looking for elderflowers is a great excuse to go "foraging"!

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  15. PS-I love the final note to respect your elders! :0)

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  16. I can't get enough of this blog & I'm missing your posts on my email. .Not sure why.

    Exquisite, sublime cake.

    I cannot imagine how this must smell w/ the sugar and vanilla and elderberry combined.

    A lovely celebration for the taste buds.

    xxxxx LUV and Appreciation from Duluth.

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    1. Kim, do not know why my posts do not arrive by mail anymore - will check though, thanks for letting me know...
      And thank you so much for your absolutely fabulous, kind and thoughful comment - that means a lot to me!!!
      Hugs and kisses,
      Andrea

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  17. It will be made THIS WEEK!!!!

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    1. Candy, so nice to read that you like this cake!

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  18. What a unique cake! Where did you get the idea for it?

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    1. Robin, nice to hear from you again - the inspiration from this cake came from the elder bush and the strawberries growing in our garden as well as the Heritage Plant and Garden Show we attended the week before I baked this and a wonderfully talented Spanish cook working in France.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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