Ever since a certain royal wedding cake, lemon and elderflower has sky rocketed in popularity. If you'd like to recreate this royal trend at your wedding, or next celebration, this Lemon & Elderflower Cake is the perfect way to do so. It's a lemon and elderflower sponge, brushed with elderflower cordial after baking, then covered in lemon buttercream. I've decorated this cake in the naked cake style, where you can see the sponge layers through the buttercream. This creates a rustic, yet elegant appearance. It will happily take centre stage to impress your guests on your special day!
How to make Lemon & Elderflower Cake
To make the sponge, mix together butter and sugar, then add lemon zest and mix in.
Add eggs and elderflower cordial and whisk them in. Then add self raising flour, and gently whisk in it. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake them for 45 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
To make the buttercream, mix together the butter and icing sugar, then add the lemon extract and mix until smooth. I made some fondant flowers to decorate the cake with too, but you can decorate any way you like.
Layer up the sponges, brushing some elderflower cordial over each sponge, then cover the cake in buttercream.
What is a naked cake?
A naked cake is a cake with a very thin layer of buttercream spread over it, so thin that you can see the cake sponge and layers peaking through. The trend is believed to have been started by Christina Tosi of the Milk Bar restaurant, and once celebrity weddings followed the trend, the rest of the world was not far behind! Naked cakes have a pretty, yet rustic appearance, and they can be very simply decorated with fruit or flowers. They are extremely popular at weddings, and it's easy to see why from their elegant look.
What is elderflower?
Elderflower are the flowers of the elder tree, they have a light and floral taste and are found throughout the UK in woodland. Elderflowers are in season from late May to mid June. They are clusters of tiny white flowers with a sweet and summery scent, and they look very pretty! Elderflowers are actually midly toxic, but this is removed once the flowers are cooked (for example when turning them into cordial) and they do have medicial applications too.
How long does this cake last for and can you freeze it?
The cake will keep in an airtight container for 3 days in a cool place. You can freeze the sponges either alone, or decorated (but do not freeze any fondant decorations or lemon slices). Once the sponges are fully cool, wrap them well with cling film or put them in an airtight container with some baking paper between them. You can freeze the buttercream on it's own in a tub, or you can decorate the cake and freeze it fully assembled.
To do this and avoid damage to the decoration, freeze it either in an airtight container. Or let it freeze solid on a cake board or plate, then wrap in cling film. Remove the cling film when you take it out to defrost it, if you don't it could damage the decoration as it defrosts and softens. You can also freeze slices of the cake, again well wrapped in cling film or in airtight containers.
More tips for making the Lemon & Elderflower Cake:
- If you don’t want to decorate the cakes with the fondant flowers I have used, you could also decorate them with sprinkles, some lemon zest, macarons, shop bought sugar or wafer flowers, or edible flowers.
- If you'd like the adapt this recipe to smaller or large cake tins, you can use my Conversion Guide to adjust the recipe.
- I used a shop bought elderflower cordial by a brand called Belvoir, if you have access to elderflower plants, you can make your own cordial. There are many recipes available online.
Recommended equipment & ingredients*
- 8" cake tins
- Mixing bowls
- Cooling rack
- Electric hand mixer
- Piping bags
- Kitchen scales
- Flower cutter & veiner press
- Wilton 8B Piping nozzle
- Lemon extract
- Silicone rolling pin
- Silicone mat
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More Lemon & Elderflower recipes...
Lemon & Elderflower Cake
For the sponge
- 500 g Butter or baking spread
- 500 g Caster sugar
- 3 Lemons zest only
- 9 Eggs large
- 6 tbsp Elderflower cordial
- 500 g Self raising flour
For brushing onto the baked sponges
- 3 tbsp Elderflower cordial
For the buttercream
- 350 g Butter or baking spread
- 700 g Icing sugar
- 2 tsp Lemon extract
For the decoration
- 100 g White ready to roll fondant
- 1 Lemon
- Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and grease and line three 8" cake tins (that are at least 2" deep)
- To make the sponge cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You can use an electric mixer or by hand with spoon
- Add the lemon zest and mix in
- Add the eggs, two at a time, and whisk between each addition. Then add the elderflower cordial, and whisk in
- Using a hand whisk, gently whisk in the self raising flour
- Divide the mixture between the tins, I like to weigh it out for accuracy so the layers are even
- Bake them for 45-50 minutes or until they are golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave them to fully cool either in the tins or remove from the tin and place on cooling racks
- To make the buttercream mix the butter and icing sugar together. Once it starts to come together add the lemon extract and mix until smooth. I use my electric hand whisk to do this but you can also do it by hand with a spoon
- If the cakes have domed on top, level them off with a cake leveller or a serrated knife
- Put one of the sponges on a cake board, and then onto a decorating turntable and brush some of the elderflower cordial over it
- Spread a layer of buttercream over the sponge and smooth it out, then add the second sponge and repeat the process
- Add the final sponge layer, this time, brush the cordial on to it, then flip it over and add on top of the other sponges
- Cover the cake in a base layer, or crumb coat, of buttercream
- Pipe some buttercream around the top of the cake and add your chosen decorations
- Move the cake onto a serving plate or cake stand to serve. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for 2-3 days