Elderflower cake: fluffy genoise soaked in elderflower syrup with blueberry compote and elderflower whipped cream. A true summer cake!
Happy Summer! It’s finally here!
Although I cherish the days of spring where things are blossoming and the days are getting longer one by one, the start of summer is always exciting. Summer brings berries and river trips on kayaks. Where I currently live, it gets HOT in the summer months. You just have to surrender to it and accept the fact that you’re going to be sweaty. All the time. No, but, for real. The only salvation is getting in some sort of body of water. Maybe it’s your sprinkler. That works too.
Lucky for us all, nature is smart. She gives us juicy, watery fruits and vegetables during the hottest time of year. Blueberries, I’m looking at you! At least until the tomatoes are ready.
Another pretty cool thing that tends to happen in my neighborhood around summer solstice is that the elderflowers start to open. Of all the things I love to go out and hunt for in the wild, it’s the elderflowers that I love the most. I know a spot up in the mountains that happens to be heavily decorated in huge, glorious elder trees. This time of year, you might catch me, giddy with a wildcrafter’s high, hopping around wildly through this paradise of elders, broken stumps, and berry bushes. It’s not the easiest terrain to scramble, but it’s well worth it.
If you’ve never had the joy of smelling, picking, and/or eating these highly aromatic flowers, do yourself a favor and go find some. They are heavenly. Each year, I try to find new ways to preserve them in order to make the most of them. These blooms are a journey to get to, and they don’t last very long out there. But we’ll talk more about that in another post. For now, let’s eat a very summery elderflower cake.
For this elderflower cake, I used a plain genoise base and soaked the layers in elderflower-scented syrup. Add a fresh blueberry compote and soft whipped cream – also spiked with elder- and you’ve got a cake that screams, “Summer!”.
Elderflower Cake with Blueberries
An elderflower cake soaked in floral-scented syrup, filled with blueberry compote and topped with elderflower whipped cream
elderflower cake (adapted from Tartine)
- 2 1/2 ounces butter (5 tbsp)
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large elderflower umbel
- 1 pint fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean scraped
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp elderflower bourbon or cordial
for the elderflower cake:
First preheat the oven to 350F. Line the bottom of two 6-inch cake pans with parchment but do not butter the sides.
Melt the butter on low heat and keep slightly warm. Sift flour and cornstarch together in a small bowl.
Combine eggs, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer and place in a pot over an inch or two of simmering water. You do not want the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Whisk occasionally until hot to the touch, about 6-10 minutes.
Place the bowl with the warm egg mixture onto your stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high until mixture is pale, has tripled in volume, and has reached "ribbon" stage, 3-5 minutes.
Carefully fold your flour into this mix with a spatula in three additions, making sure to get all the flour that falls to the bottom without deflating the batter much. Take about a cup of batter out and mix with the melted butter. Gently fold the butter mix into the rest. Divide evenly amongst your prepared pans. Bake until cakes are golden brown and spring back when you press them with your finger, about 23-30 minutes. Allow to cool completely in their pans before removing.
for the syrup:
Meanwhile, make the syrup and compote. For the syrup, pour your sugar in a small saucepan and cover with water; stir lightly. Bring to boil and allow to boil for a few minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Place an elderflower umbel in a small glass container. Pour the hot syrup over the flower and allow to steep as the syrup cools.
for the compote:
Place all compote ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil, turn heat down slightly, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until most of the blueberries have popped and sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust sugar or lemon if necessary.
for the elderflower whip:
Once cakes have completely cooled, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and elderflower flavoring until it comes just to soft peaks.
Slice each cake into two layers horizontally. Brush each layer liberally with the syrup. Fill layers first with blueberry compote, then a nice layer of whipped cream. Frost with a thin layer of whip to crumb coat; chill in the fridge for about an hour. Finish frosting with the remaining whipped cream. Decorate with fresh blueberries and fresh and candied elderflowers., and serve with any remaining compote.