There’s something about elderflower: it seems almost magical, like it shouldn’t exist, but it does. And life is ever the sweeter for it. I’m really not sure why I think that, there’s just something about it that is so perfect!
I think it makes me think of that sweet patch in September/October when the weather gets better, and each morning you get the slightest hint of summer, of reprieve and of joy – it’s like this intense sense of relaxation, in some sort of carefree, Winnie-the-Pooh-esque land where everything is okay because spring is coming and winter is finally over.
I didn’t expect the intensity of that last paragraph, but honestly, that’s how elderflower makes me feel. So, naturally, when I find an ingredient or flavour that makes me as happy as that, I want to create something that screams elderflower and celebrates it as clearly as elderflower syrup, but is also something more than just elderflower syrup. Elderflower lemonade with strawberries and raspberries gets pretty close – but I’m thinking more along the baking lines.
So when I found that Aldi was selling bottles of elderflower cordial for less than half the price of the stuff in Coles, I pounced – remember when I said that when someone offers me free produce I take all of it? Yeah, well I’m the same with limited-edition and seasonal buys – although I do pay for them.
So, now I just had to make something with this magical and slightly-expensive-therefore-must-be-used-carefully syrup. Let’s face it, nothing is going to be as good as straight syrup, so I figure there have to be compromises. But cake is good, right? Everyone loves cake. And also, let’s not forget that I’m a baker, so I do a lot of cakes and not much else.
So of course I chose to make a cake. But the question was, what should I pair the elderflower with to make it pop? I was concerned that just having elderflower syrup in a butter cake might not work so well, so I had to use something else. And what better than lemon? It’s classic. It’s a favourite. It complements the very, very sweet elderflower syrup. So we have a winner: Lemon and Elderflower Cake.
And the very best part of this story is that we sat in my sister’s beautiful, light-filled house with good friends, on a lusciously warm spring Friday, with pretty plates and cutlery (because it makes everything better!), drinking passionfruit-infused lemonade with pretty straws and the windows open to make the most of the spring breeze, and not a care in the world. That’s basically how even the thought of elderflower makes me feel, and so you can imagine the bliss of actually eating elderflower cake in a situation that makes you feel like spring is finally here and there’s nothing to worry about. Life is lovely.
175g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup elderflower cordial (to taste)
175g self-raising flour
- Pre-heat oven to 160C fan-forced and line the base of 2 20cm tins or 1 22cm tin with baking paper.
- Cream butter, sugar and zest until pale in colour.
- Add eggs, beating well after each egg.
- Add cordial and flour and stir through carefully until combined.
- Scoop into tins and bake for 30-40 minutes, or a bit longer if using the 22cm tin.
- Once cool, drizzle with simple icing of icing sugar and elderflower cordial and top with fresh, edible flowers.