How to Bake a Lemon and Elderflower Cake
Not invited to the royal wedding? Don’t be a bitter lemon! We’ve got the perfect recipe to put your own spin on Harry and Meghan’s lemon and elderflower cake. Decorate with florals using piped nozzles available online and in store at Hobbycraft.
Ingredients for the cake:
1lb/460g caster sugar
1lb/460g soft, unsalted butter or margarine
1lb/460g self-raising flour
8 medium eggs
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of 3 lemons
3 tbs elderflower cordial
For the syrup:
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs elderflower cordial
2 tbs caster sugar
For the buttercream:
12oz/350g soft, unsalted butter
1lb 8oz/700g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbs elderflower cordial
1 jar lemon curd for the filling
Preheat the oven to 170°C fan. Line the cake tins with a circle of greaseproof paper in the bottom and a strip around the inside edge.
In a stand mixer (or with an electric whisk) cream together the butter/margarine and the caster sugar with the lemon zest. When the mixture is pale, light and fluffy beat in the eggs one at a time.
Sieve in the flour and baking powder and mix until just incorporated and no lumps of flour remain. Evenly distribute the cake mixture between the 3 prepared cake tins and smooth over the tops.
Bake in the oven for approximately 35-45 minutes, turning the tins around in the oven halfway through the cooking time. When the cakes are well risen, coming away from the sides of the tin and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean then remove from the oven and leave on a cooling rack.
Meanwhile, make the syrup by putting all of the ingredients into a small saucepan and heat through until just coming up to the boil.
Turn the cakes out of the tins and remove any domes from the tops of the cakes with a serrated knife. Prick the surface of each cake all over with a cocktail stick and brush or spoon the syrup over the sponges. Leave the cakes to go completely cold whilst you make the buttercream.
Beat the butter in the mixer for 2 minutes before adding in the icing sugar a bit at a time, along with the lemon juice and elderflower cordial – you may not need all of the liquid or all of the icing sugar – aim to get a stiff but pipeable buttercream. Beat the buttercream in the mixer for 5 or 6 minutes until it is pale in colour and light and fluffy.
Place one of the cakes on the cake board, using a splodge of buttercream to affix it to the board. Put this on a cake turntable and fill a piping bag with buttercream. Snip off the pointed end and pipe a buttercream ‘dam’ around the edge of the top of the cake. Fill the inside of the dam with lemon curd.
Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the bottom of the second sponge and place this on top of the first one to make a sandwich cake.
Repeat the process again, piping a dam and filling with lemon curd. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the top of the third sponge and invert this onto the cake so that you end up with a flat and level surface on the top of your layer cake.
Cover the whole cake with a thin layer of buttercream (apply this with a palette knife) and use the metal cake scraper to smooth the buttercream – hold the scraper still in one hand at a right angle against the side of the cake and use your other hand to turn the cake turntable. As you remove the buttercream on the scraper you should end up with smooth, straight sides and some of the cake will be visible – you now have a semi-naked cake! Smooth the top of the cake by working from the outside edge, inwards. Put the cake in the fridge to cool for at least an hour to set the buttercream before proceeding with the decoration.
Colour the remaining buttercream as you wish with the food colours in separate bowls. Snip the end off the piping bags and insert a floral piping nozzle in each one.
For a 2-tone effect (like the blossom with pink centres) firstly put the outside colour (in this case, uncoloured buttercream) in the bag, filling it only halfway. Pat the bag flat on a surface to coat the inside of the bag. Open up the bag again and put your second colour (pink) in the hollow in the middle. Twist the open end of the bag and gently squeeze the bag until the buttercream comes through the nozzle. Test a couple of flowers on your work surface before piping onto the cake.
For a wild and random effect, pipe clusters of 2 or 3 flowers together of varying types and colours. Fit a piping bag with leaf nozzle 352 and half fill the bag with green buttercream. Pipe leaves in between the flowers, filling any gaps.