Strawberry and elderflower cake

Strawberry and Elderflower Cake

Elderflowers have an extraordinary affinity with strawberries, and make a perfect summer birthday cake. Assemble in only a couple of hours before the event (and chill, if you can) as the cake won’t keep, especially in the heat. A summer celebration on a plate!

Serves 24 (halve the recipe to serve 12)

For the cakes:

450g unsalted butter, really soft, diced, plus more for the tins

450g self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

8 eggs, lightly beaten

Finely grated zest of 2 large unwaxed lemons

450g golden caster sugar

4 tbsp elderflower cordial

For the elderflower cream:

1.2kg ripe, even-sized strawberries, cleaned, dried and hulled

2 tbsp golden caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

600ml double cream

8 tbsp elderflower cordial



To Bake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 170°C/350°F/gas mark 4. To make the three-tiered cake, take three 20cm round sandwich tins. Butter the tins and line the bases with baking parchment. If you have only two tins, then make the cake mixture and divide it evenly into three batches, baking the third as soon as a tin becomes free.
  2. For this cake, I use an electric mixer and beater attachment, but you can use a food processor, or a bowl and electric whisk, if you prefer. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl, add the butter, eggs, lemon zest and sugar, and beat well, adding the cordial towards the end. Be careful not to over-mix, as you want a light cake.
  3. Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until a skewer emerges clean. (To halve the recipe, bake in two 20cm tins for 20–25 minutes.) Remove from the oven, leave for a couple of minutes, run a knife around the rim to loosen the cakes from the tins and turn out on to a wire rack. Remove the papers and leave to cool completely. Trim the cakes flat.

For the Filling and Decoration

  1. Slice 400g of the strawberries and toss in a bowl with the sugar and vanilla. Leave all the flavours to mingle together for 30 minutes.
  2. Whip the cream until soft peaks form, adding the cordial slowly just as it begins to thicken. Place one cake on a cake stand and spread with a layer of cream and half the sliced strawberries. Repeat with another cake, a layer of cream and the remaining sliced strawberries. Top with the last cake. Spread the remaining cream all over the top and sides.
  3. Take the best-shaped 20 strawberries and cut 10–12 in half. Place the halved strawberries, cut side up, in a circle around the edge of the cake, and pile up the rest in the centre. Cut the remaining strawberries into slices – or in half – and press into the cream all around the sides.

Celebration Cakes by Fiona Cairns (Quadrille) Photography: Laura Edwards