Lemon Sponge Cake with Edible Flowers

Lemon Sponge Cake with Elderflower and Edible Flowers

This lemon sponge cake, flavoured with elderflower cordial and decorated with edible flowers, is the perfect show-stopper for a spring celebration. I bring it out for Mothers’ Day and Easter and also for spring birthdays.

There are lots of things that I love about this cake. First off, it is delicious! Lemon and elderflower are great flavour partners. Secondly, it is really easy to make. It is just a simple lemon sponge, perked up with the fantastic floral taste of elderflower cordial, sandwiched with lemon curd and covered in simple lemon and elderflower buttercream. It is also really easy to decorate. You do not need any icing or cake-decoration skills to produce a really striking cake. It is a doddle to cover the cake with the buttercream. Then all you have to do then is to get creative and add the fresh edible flowers. If there are any bits of the icing that are less than perfect, just cover them up with a flower!

As with all sponge cakes, this cake is best if it is eaten as soon as possible. You can make it a day ahead but any longer than that and it won’t be as good. However, you can make the sponge cakes and then freeze them if that makes things easier. After they have cooled, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer. When you are ready to use, allow to defrost and then sandwich them together, add the icing and decorate.

I make my own lemon curd and elderflower cordial and you can find recipes on this blog. However, there is absolutely no need to do this. A good quality shop-bought lemon curd is fine to sandwich the cakes together and there are lots of great ready-made brands of elderflower cordial. Having said that, it is really fun to make your own if you have time!

Using edible flowers – what you need to know

As you might have worked out from the name of my blog, I love using edible flowers. For someone who really appreciates the visual impact of the food that they eat, but has little decorative skill (piping sugar roses really is not my thing), edible flowers are the perfect ingredient. If you have never used edible flowers before, this is what you need to know.

  • There are many varieties of flower that are edible. There are also many that are not either because they don’t taste very nice or because they are harmful if eaten. It is vital that you know what varieties of flowers you can use in your cooking. If in doubt, don’t use it!
  • Similarly, you need to be sure that the flowers that you are using have not been treated with any chemicals (pesticides or fertilisers) that might be harmful to you. The best way to be sure of this, is to obtain your flowers from a location that you know to be safe such as your own garden. Alternatively, you can now buy edible flowers from suppliers such as Ocado or Fine Food Specialist. Do not use flowers from the florist as they will often be chemically treated to prolong their life.
  • Broadly speaking, edible flowers fall into three categories. Firstly, there are flowers that are primarily decorative. They include lilac, primroses, violas and pansies. Secondly, there are flowers that are decorative but also provide a flavour. These include roses, lavender, elderflowers and dandelions which are generally used in sweet recipes and the flowers of many herbs, such as chives or thyme, which are generally used in savoury recipes. Thirdly, there are flowers which actually form part of the dish. These include peppery nasturtiums which can liven up a salad or courgette flowers which can be stuffed and then either fried or steamed.
  • Before you use your edible flowers, you need to make sure that they are clean. I soak mine in a bowl of cold water for around 10 minutes and then let them dry out on a clean kitchen towel for a further 5 minutes.
  • If you are using edible flowers to decorate a cake, you need to add them just before you are ready to serve it up. This is because the flowers will only keep fresh for a few hours once they have been stuck to the cake. I will keep my decorative flowers in a bowl of water until just before I need to use them. They keep fresh for a couple of days if kept in a bowl of water.
Other recipes using edible flowers

If you would like to explore using edible flowers, I have a lot of recipes that use them for decoration and flavour.

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Lemon Sponge Cake with Edible Flowers

Lemon Sponge Cake with Elderflower and Edible Flowers

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 25
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 810 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Lemon Sponge Cake, flavoured with elderflower cordial and decorated with edible flowers, is probably the easiest show-stopping cake you will find!


Scale

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 450 g butter
  • 450 g caster sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 400 g self-raising flour
  • 50 g cornflower
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons elderflower cordial
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

For the decoration

  • 250 g butter
  • 500 g icing sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of elderflower cordial
  • 8 tablespoons of lemon curd
  • Edible flowers (primroses, pansies, roses)

You will also need three 18 cm loose-bottomed sandwich tins.


Instructions

  1. First make your cakes. Set your oven to 180 degrees centigrade or Gas Mark 4.
  2. Cream the butter with the sugar.  (I usually soften the butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave first as it makes it much easier.)
  3. 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.
  4. Once the eggs have been incorporated add the rest of the self-raising flour and the cornflower.
  5. Add the milk, elderflower cordial and the grated lemon zest.
  6. Grease your Victoria Sandwich tins or containers and then add the cake mixture.
  7. Bake your cakes in the oven for around 35 minutes.  They are done when they are golden brown, springy to the touch and have shrunk away from the edge of the tin.  You can test this by inserting a skewer in the middle of the cake – if it comes out cleanly with no mixture attached, your cake is done.
  8. Allow your cakes to cool on a rack before removing them from the tins or containers. 
  9. Next prepare the icing and decoration. Beat the butter and icing sugar together in a food processor or using a hand blender.  Add the lemon juice and elderflower cordial and beat until the mixture is pale and smooth.
  1. Spread 4 tablespoons of lemon curd on top of one of the cakes.  Place the second cake on top of it.  Spread 4 tablespoons of lemon curd on top of the second cake.  Place the third cake on top of it.
  2. Spread the lemon buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.  
  3. Decorate with edible flowers.  

 

 

 


Notes

  1. Make sure that you are using varieties of flower that are safe to eat and that they have not been chemically-treated.  Wash flowers before  use.

Keywords: cake, lemon, elderflower, edible flowers

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Feast Glorious Feast, and #BakingCrumbs with Apply To Face Blog and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday and [email protected], Spoons and Spatulas

Loved this recipe? You may also like the following recipes. Or checkout the Recipe Index.

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Rose Ice Cream

Home-made Rose Ice Cream

I first came across Rose Ice Cream about ten years ago on a family holiday to Alnwick Castle Garden in Northumberland. The castle is famous for its wonderful, dramatic modern garden which includes a large area devoted to scented roses. When we visited, they were selling rose-flavoured ice-cream with a flavour based on the old-fashioned roses in the garden. I loved the ice-cream and, as soon as I got home, set about trying to make a home-made version. If you love gardens, I would recommend a visit to those at Alnwick Castle which also include a cascade of 120 water-jets, an area devoted to poisonous plants and an extraordinary tree-house which is the location for a very fancy restaurant.

Maybe because I first had Rose Ice Cream in Alnwick, I associate it with an English summer garden. There are a few recipes for Rose Ice Cream which have a more exotic twist, including pistachios or almonds, and having a 1001 Nights vibe, but this is definitely a traditional English version.

Edible flower recipes – rose, lavender and elderflower

As is probably obvious from the title of this blog, I love using floral flavourings in my cooking. For rose-lovers, there are recipes for Rose and Strawberry Cream Cake and Rose and Raspberry Pavlova. Lavender-lovers might like the recipes for Lavender Ice Cream, Lavender Cake and Lavender Shortbread and Honey Cream Tea with Lavender Scones. For elderflower-lovers, there are recipes for Elderflower Ice Cream, Gooseberry and Elderflower Sorbet and Elderflower and Lemon Cupcakes.

You only need the egg yolks for this recipe which means you will have spare egg whites.  As I hate waste, I pretty much always make Meringues when I make ice-cream as, very conveniently, my Meringue recipe requires four egg whites. If you are in a rose-loving mood, you could make Rose Meringues!

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Rose Ice Cream

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Rose Ice Cream

Rose Ice Cream

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
  • Category: Ice Cream
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Rose Ice Cream is a lovely summer recipe which combines the floral taste of rose with fresh cream.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 85 g caster sugar
  • 425 ml double cream
  • 1 tablespoon of culinary rosewater
  • A few drops of red food colouring (optional)


Instructions

  1. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl until the mixture looks paler and resembles a mousse.
  2. Put the cream in a saucepan and heat gently. Do not allow to boil – it will be the right temperature when you are just about able to bear to dip a finger in it!
  3. Pour the cream into the bowl containing the egg yolks and sugar, whisking all the time.
  4. Transfer the combined mixture into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water or, ideally a double-boiler, as you need to reheat it very gently.
  5. The mixture will gradually thicken until it looks like a custard (which is what it is).  Stir regularly to make sure it does not stick while it is thickening.
  6. Remove the thick custard from the heat and transfer into a bowl. 
  7. Add the rosewater to the custard.  If you wish, stir in a few drops of red food colouring so that your ice cream will be pink.  If you don’t do this, your ice-cream will be cream-coloured but will still taste the same!
  8. Allow to cool to room temperature and then transfer to the fridge to become thoroughly chilled.
  9. When you are ready to make the ice-cream, transfer to your ice-cream maker and use according to your machine’s instructions.  If you do not have an ice-cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen.  Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.

Notes

You only need the egg yolks for this recipe which means you will have spare egg whites.  As I hate waste, I pretty much always make Meringues when I make ice-cream as, very conveniently, my Meringue recipe requires four egg whites.

If you want to go for a full-on rose theme, you can decorate your ice-cream with Crystallised Rose Petals.

Keywords: rose, rose ice cream, rose recipe

Loved this recipe? You may also like the following recipes. Or checkout the Recipe Index.

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Elderflower Cordial

Elderflowers
Picked elderflowers

Elderflower Cordial

Although there are a number of brands of ready-made Elderflower Cordial available now, it is is really easy to make your own.    I think home-made Elderflower Cordial is best as it has a zesty lemony taste which ready-made versions don’t seem to have.  Also, it is cheaper as the main ingredient is free!

Elderflowers are a good starting point for new “foragers” as they are so widely available and easily recognisable.   They are the blossoms of the elder (Sambucus nigra) which is a small tree or shrub commonly found in woodlands and gardens throughout the UK.   The small creamy-white flowers are arranged in big clusters and bloom in late May or early June.   In autumn, they turn into purple elderberries which also have a range of culinary uses.

Elderflowers
Elder bush

Elderflowers
Elderflowers

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Elderflower cordial

Elderflower Cordial

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Total Time: 15
  • Yield: 1.5 litres 1x
  • Category: Cordial
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This luscious home-made elderflower cordial is so easy to make and can be used in soft drinks, as a cooking ingredient or to bring a floral note to cocktails.


Scale

Ingredients

  • About 20 elderflower heads
  • 3 unwaxed lemons
  • 1 kg sugar

Instructions

  1. Wash the elderflower heads to remove any insects.
  2. Then place them in a large bowl together with the grated zest of the lemons.   (Reserve the lemons as you will need to use their juice later.)
  3. Pour 1.5 litres of boiling water over the elderflowers and lemon zest.   Cover and leave to infuse overnight.
  4. The next day, strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin or kitchen paper, into a large saucepan.
  5. Add the sugar and the juice of the lemons to the infused liquid and heat gently to dissolve the sugar.   Once the sugar is dissolved, simmer more rapidly for around 5  minutes until the liquid has thickened slightly.
  6. Transfer the cordial into sterilised bottles or jars. (There are various ways of sterilising bottles and jars.  I think the easiest is to wash in soapy water and then put in an oven at 120 C for 15 minutes).
  7. Once bottled, the cordial will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

Notes

Although the preparation time is only 15 minutes, you do need to leave the mixture to infuse overnight (see step 3).

Keywords: elderflower cordial

Elderflower cordial
Picked elderflowers

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