These Elderflower and Lemon Cupcakes are the perfect easy summer baking recipe. The sponge is light and buttery. The use of fresh lemon makes them fresh and zesty and perfectly balances the floral flavour of the elderflower. The flavour of the cakes is echoed in the buttercream which is flavoured with fresh lemon juice and elderflower cordial.
Over the past few years, elderflower has become a very popular flavouring for all kinds of cakes and desserts. I first made these Elderflower Cupcakes a number of years ago at the request of my daughter for her to share with her biology class. Each week a member of the class brings in cakes to share – school doesn’t sound so bad nowadays – and she specifically asked me not to make cakes with an unusual flavour. Her exact words were “don’t make the flavour too ‘out there’, mum”. After a focused discussion, during which various flavours were discounted – lilac? (No), Lady Grey tea? (No!), dandelion? (Seriously?!!) – we agreed on elderflower.
Although I love elderflower and use it in desserts regularly, this was the first time I had tried it in Elderflower Cupcakes. I am not really a big cupcake maker! I made two batches – one with just elderflower and one with elderflower and lemon. When I tasted them, I understood immediately why it is usual to include lemon as an additional flavouring. The cupcakes made just with elderflower were far too sweet for my taste but those made with elderflower and lemon were just right – floral but zesty!
What you need to know about these cupcakes
You don’t need access to fresh elderflowers to make them. In England, elderflowers are in season in May and June and are very common in hedgerows and the edge of woodland. I use fresh elderflowers to make many recipes including Elderflower Cordial. I really love making my own cordial but you can make these cupcakes using store-bought cordial and they taste just as good.
Cupcakes are very easy to make and quick to bake. Therefore, you can whip up a batch in under half an hour. However, you need to allow them to cool completely before you add the buttercream icing otherwise it will just melt into the cakes. I generally make these cakes the day before I plan to eat them so they have plenty of time to cool down.
I am not a brilliant icing piper. When I make these cupcakes, I generally simply put a teaspoon of icing onto each cake and smooth it down. I will always add some additional decorative element to make up for my lack of icing skills. If fresh elderflowers are in season, I will add a sprig to each cake. If not, I will add a little grated lemon zest as I think it is helpful to give a clue to the flavour of the cakes.
Make the cake batter by creaming together the 250 g butter with the 250 g sugar. Add the eggs gradually to ensure the mixture does not curdle. Then add the 250 g self-raising flour.
Add the grated lemon zest and the 4 tbs of cordial to the mixture and stir to combine.
Put a dessert spoon of the cake mixture into each of the cupcake papers.
Put your cupcake trays into the oven and cook for around 15 minutes. The cakes will be done when they are golden brown and springy to the touch.
Remove the cupcakes from the trays and put on a rack to cool.
Make the icing by putting the 500g icing sugar, 250 g butter, lemon juice and 3 tbs elderflower cordial in a mixing bowl and beating until they form a pale, smooth icing. Ice the cooled cupcakes and decorate as you wish!
Keywords: elderflower and lemon cake, elderflower cupcakes
This is a simple Victoria Sandwich cake, flavoured with vanilla, and filled with a mixture of Rhubarb Curd and whipped cream. It is very easy to make and can be used as a pudding or eaten at tea-time or with morning coffee. The tartness of the rhubarb goes very well with the buttery cake and the smooth, rich taste of vanilla. I also have another recipe for a very different kind of rhubarb cake, Rhubarb Upside Down Cake, which uses fresh rhubarb.
I am a big cheerleader for home-made cakes. My cakes tend to be simple and use seasonal ingredients. They do not require advanced baking skills or complicated decoration. My goal is to make cakes that taste delicious and look attractive but which anyone can make. One of the reasons I love home-baking is that I get to experiment with different flavours and flavour combinations. Here are some of my favourites.
Set your oven to 180 degrees centigrade or Gas Mark 4.
Cream the butter with the caster sugar. (I usually soften the butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave first as it makes it much easier!)
Gradually add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture. If it looks as if it is going to curdle, add some of the self-raising flour.
Once the eggs have been incorporated add the rest of the self-raising flour.
Add the milk and the vanilla extract. It really makes a difference if you use a good quality vanilla extract – as opposed to vanilla essence – as this will give it a much more intense flavour.
Grease your Victoria Sandwich tin or container and then add the cake mixture.
Bake your cake in the oven for around 30 minutes. It is done when it is golden brown, springy to the touch and has shrunk away from the edge of the tin. You can test it by inserting a skewer in the middle of the cake – if it comes out cleanly with no mixture attached, your cake is done.
Allow your cake to cool on a rack before removing it from the tin or container.
Once the cake is cool, slice it in half horizontally (I find a bread knife is good for doing this).
Spread the Rhubarb Curd on one half of the cake followed by the whipped cream and then put the other half of the cake on top.
Dust the cake with icing sugar by shaking a small amount through a sieve onto the top.
You will need to keep the cake in the fridge if not using immediately as it contains cream and Rhubarb Curd. If stored in the fridge, remove it around half an hour before eating to allow it to come up to room temperature.
This Rhubarb Cake consists of a layer of sweet-sharp rhubarb on top of a light, buttery sponge. It is extremely easy to make and can be used as either a cake or a dessert.
I make a lot of Upside Down Cakes – they are really versatile and can be used as puddings or are great mid-morning with a cup of coffee or with afternoon tea! I usually use them a lot as puddings as they are very quick and easy to do and are fantastic, served with cream or ice-cream, at the end of a meal. Rhubarb Upside Down Cake tends to go down well with those who have past form as rhubarb-haters (such as my eldest son) as the topping is effectively a jam and so is less astringent than in some other dishes and therefore more palatable.
In the past, I have been a bit ambivalent about rhubarb. On the one hand, I liked its sharp/sweet flavour but I also had a lot of unfortunate memories from my school days of pink mush shrouded in lumpy custard…
The turning point in my relationship with rhubarb was when we moved into our current house a few years ago and found a huge rhubarb plant in the middle of one of the flower beds. Over several years, I did my best to kill it and, when this failed, to move it, as I wanted to plant pretty flowers! It resisted all my attempts at destruction and, in the end, in a spirit of defeat, I decided to start trying to use it and looked for tasty recipes. I am now quite pleased that I failed to get rid of it, although it still looks a bit odd in the middle of the flower bed, and have adapted a lot of my favourite recipes, including the one for Upside Down Cake, to include rhubarb.
Rhubarb Upside Down Cake can be served as a cake with morning coffee or afternoon tea or as a desssert with cream or ice cream.
For the rhubarb topping:
300 g (10 oz) rhubarb
180 g (6 oz) caster sugar
50 g (2 oz) butter
For the cake:
125 g (5 oz) butter
125 g (5 oz) caster sugar
125 g (5 oz) self-raising flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/gas mark 4.
Wash the rhubarb stalks thoroughly. Cut into small pieces of around 1 cm.
Put the rhubarb pieces, 180 g (6 oz) caster sugar and 50 g (2 oz) butter into your tarte-tatin dish or frying pan and put on a low heat for around 15 minutes. The rhubarb will soften and, initially release a lot of moisture, but by the end of the time the mixture should be syrupy and jam-like in consistency. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
Make the cake batter by creaming together the 125 g (5 oz) butter with the 125 g (5 oz) sugar. Add the eggs gradually to ensure the mixture does not curdle. Then add the 125 g (5 oz) self-raising flour followed by the 1 tablespoon of milk.
Spoon the cake batter on top of the syrupy mixture in your tarte-tatin dish or frying pan.
Put the dish into the oven for around 30 minutes. At the end of this time, the cake should be light brown and springy to the touch.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for around 5 minutes. Then, put a plate over the pan, turn it upside down and remove the pan so that the cake is on the plate rhubarb-side upwards. Don’t leave it any longer than this or it will be hard to turn it out as the jammy mixture will solidify as it cools and glue the cake to the pan!
You can either serve immediately when it is warm or leave to cool to room temperature.
You will need a cast iron tarte-tatin dish or a cast iron frying pan which can be used on the hob and also can be put in the oven.