a cake for the weekend :: elderflower and gooseberry sponge


With several bottles of homemade elderflower cordial in the fridge, I was reminded of that seasonal favourite of mine, elderflower drizzle cake. As I also had a bowlful of gooseberries from the farm shop sitting on my work surface, I felt inspired to combine the two. Gooseberries and elderflowers, growing almost simultaneously, as they do, are perfect partners in taste. I cooked up the gooseberries with some butter, sugar, and a couple of heads of elderflowers to infuse them with flavour and scent. Once cooled, I stirred through some double cream, and used this simple gooseberry fool as the filling for an elderflower sponge. To finish, a glaze of elderflower icing, its sweetness balanced by the tartness of the gooseberries.


This is not an elegant cake, but rather a generous, oozing concoction, dripping with summer bounty. Just right for eating  in the garden with a cup of tea, on a warm June afternoon. It won’t keep for more than a day or so in the tin, which makes for a perfect excuse to have a second slice…


Elderflower and Gooseberry Sponge

225g butter, softened

225g caster sugar

4 eggs, beaten

250g self raising flour

4 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon elderflower cordial


1 small punnet gooseberries

2-3 tablespoons caster sugar

1 tablespoon butter

a couple of heads of elderflowers, or a couple of tablespoons elderflower cordial

a small tub of cream


1 tablespoon elderflower cordial

icing sugar (about 100g)


Heat the oven to 180/ gas 4. Butter two 21cm sandwich tins, and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

To make the cake, cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a little of the flour. Stir in the elderflower cordial, and fold in the four. Lastly, add enough milk to make a smooth batter (about four tablespoons).

Spoon the mixture into the cake tins, smooth the tops and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the tins on a wire rack for ten minutes, then turn them out to cool completely.

To make the filling, top and tail the gooseberries and stew with the butter, sugar (to taste), elderflower heads (or cordial), and a couple of tablespoons of water. When the gooseberries are soft, remove the elderflower heads, if using, and mash the gooseberries to a puree with a fork. Allow them to cool. Softly whip the cream and fold in the puree.

To make the icing, pour a tablespoon of elderflower cordial into a bowl. Stir in 100g of sieved icing sugar, or enough to make a runny icing (you want it liquid enough to run down the sides of the cake, but not so liquid that it will run right off it!)

To assemble the cake, place one of the layers on a plate or cake stand and spread thickly with the gooseberry mixture (any leftovers are perfect for pudding). Place the second later on top and spread over the icing glaze.  Decorate with a couple of elderflower heads if you wish, and eat as soon as possible!


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