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.
- Rose (including rosewater and rose geranium) – Rose Ice Cream, Raspberry and Rose Pavlova, Rose Meringues, Crystallised Rose Petals
- Lavender – Lavender Ice Cream, Lavender Scones, Lavender Shortbread, Lavender Cake, Lavender Sugar
- Lilac – Lilac Cake, Lilac Sugar, Syrup and Honey
- Elderflower – Elderflower and Lemon Cupcakes, Elderflower Gin, Elderflower Cordial, Elderflower Pannacotta, Gooseberry and Elderflower Sorbet
- Dandelion – Dandelion Syrup
This Lemon Sponge Cake, flavoured with elderflower cordial and decorated with edible flowers, is probably the easiest show-stopping cake you will find!
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.
- First make your cakes. Set your oven to 180 degrees centigrade or Gas Mark 4.
- 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.)
- 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 and the cornflower.
- Add the milk, elderflower cordial and the grated lemon zest.
- Grease your Victoria Sandwich tins or containers and then add the cake mixture.
- 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.
- Allow your cakes to cool on a rack before removing them from the tins or containers.
- 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.
- 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.
- Spread the lemon buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.
- Decorate with edible flowers.
- 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