With its sweet, delicate flavor of muscat, elderflower cordial is generally known as a mixer for refreshing spring and summer drinks. We also love using it in desserts, such as this lemony sponge cake infused with elderflower syrup and served with a dollop of sweet whipped cream. Based on Delia's Smith's classic Victoria sponge, the cake is light and moist with a burst of lemon from added zest and a drizzle of elderflower-lemon syrup soaked into the cake after it bakes. Served with fragrant elderflower cream, it would be lovely for Mother's Day or a weekend brunch.
If you have access to elder trees, which bloom from about April to June, we highly recommend making your own elderflower cordial from the blossoms, sugar, lemons, and citric acid (some people also add oranges). We use recipes from chefs Matt Tebbutt and Sophie Grigson. Otherwise, we suggest bottled Elderflower Cordial from Belvoir Fruit Farms, or you could use another brand (often imported from the UK) or even Flädersaft Elderberry flower drink concentrate from IKEA.
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
8 ounces superfine sugar
4 large eggs
Zest of 2 lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
8 ounces self-rising flour
1/4 cup elderflower cordial
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons elderflower cordial
For the cake
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer or a spoon), cream the butter and sugar until very pale and fluffy. Mix in the lemon zest.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs together. Gradually add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture (about 1 teaspoon at a time), beating well after each addition.
Sift a quarter of the flour into the bowl and gently fold with a spatula. Repeat until all the flour is incorporated.
Pour the batter into the pan. Bake in the oven until a tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
While the cake is baking, combine 1/4 cup elderflower cordial and lemon juice.
Place the cake (still in the pan) on a wire rack and prick all over with a skewer. Drizzle the elderflower and lemon syrup over the cake so that it seeps into the holes.
Cool cake completely, then remove from pan to serve.
For the cream
To make elderflower cream, combine heavy whipping cream and 2 tablespoons elderflower cordial in a mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, a handheld mixer, or a wire whisk.
Sponge cake adapted from Delia Smith's Victoria Sponge Cake.
(Images: Emily Ho)