Recipes // The one with the Lemon & Elderflower Cake

I haven’t baked a big cake in the longest time and have been desperate to use these flavours since I saw the Duke & Duchess of Sussex had it for their wedding cake last year. So in celebration of my husband’s last year of his 40s, I decide to make him one as he loves all things lemon flavoured. And I just love the flavour of elderflower, it’s the most spring-like taste there is I think! It’s such a typically British thing too as I discovered after posting about it on my Instagram. Apparently lots of other countries don’t have the cordial in shops but there are lots of easy recipes online to make it yourself if you can find it growing in the countryside like it does here.

I was really excited to finally buy a bottle of St. Germain elderflower liqueur too. I’ve always wanted to try it but never had a reason to buy it as I’m not a huge drinker but I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to use some of the rest of the bottle in a Prosecco cocktail soon!

The actual wedding cake recipe was no where to be found on the internet so I decided to make my own recipe using a traditional Victoria sponge recipe as my base. And whilst it wasn’t intentional, I ended up using dairy free butter as I thought I had more in the fridge than I did! So the sponge ended up being dairy free too.

If you’d liked to give it a go, here’s my recipe.

Lemon & Elderflower Birthday Cake



  • 300g sieved self raising flour (I always use Waitrose Leckford Estate)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 300g butter or dairy free alternative (I used Pure sunflower spread)
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp elderflower syrup
  • 5 large eggs

Lemon & Elderflower Syrup

  • 6 tbsp elderflower cordial
  • 6 tbsp elderflower liqueur (I used St. Germain)
  • Zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 1 tbsp lemon curd

Buttercream Frosting

  • 450g sieved icing sugar
  • 250g butter (I didn’t try a dairy free alternative here)
  • Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 2 or 3 tbsp water
  • Optional: 2 or 3 tbsp elderflower liqueur


  1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  2. Grease and line 2 x 20cm sandwich tins.
  1. Mix the flour and the baking powder together in a bowl and put to one side.
  1. Using an electric whisk or freestanding mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until very pale. If you’re using an electric mixer, make sure you use a silicon spatula or spoon to scrape the bottom to make sure you’ve got all the sugar mixed in. If you haven’t you will need to continue mixing to ensure it’s all incorporated.
  2. Then add in the eggs one at a time, mixing after each egg. If you find the mixture is curdling (which it might if you’re using dairy free spread) then add a tablespoon or two of the flour mix with each egg. If you do this be careful not to over mix as the gluten in the flour will toughen the longer it’s mixed.
  3. Once the eggs are fully mixed in, add in the flour. You can use the mixer but if you’re worried about over doing it, then you can fold the flour in, making sure you don’t leave any floury pockets in the bottom of the bowl. Put an even amount of the batter into each tin. I don’t know if it actually works but I always make a dip in the middle of each tin to help prevent the cake from doming.
  4. Put both tins in the oven and cook for between 25-35 mins. Check them at 25 mins, they should be golden, springy and starting to come away from the side of the tins. Check with a cake tester or skewer if you’re concerned they might not be cooked through.
  5. Whilst the cakes are cooking, make the syrup by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and mixing. You don’t have to use the liqueur if you’d rather not use alcohol, just double the quantity of cordial instead.
  6. Once the cakes are ready, pop them out of their tins onto a cooking rack until the are cool enough to handle but still warm. Slice each cake in half so you’re left with 4 cakes. If your cakes did some excessively you might want to trim a bit off to help them stack easier. Then you can brush on the syrup onto the cut side of each cake, letting the syrup soak into them.
  7. Whilst you’re letting the cakes fully cool, make the buttercream. Start by creaming the butter. I often get asked how I get my buttercream so fluffy so I’ll share it with you now! Beat the cream until it’s pale, nearly white, and then stop the mixer and add in half the icing cream. Continue beating it, slowly at first so you don’t get sugar everywhere, and then speeding up until you notice it thickening. At this point add in some of the water and continue beating. You need to beat it for longer than you think! Once it starts looking like whipped cream, stop the mixer, add the rest of the icing sugar and then repeat the slow to fast mixing. When the icing sugar is incorporated, add the zest, curd and liqueur or cordial and mix again. You may need to add the rest of the water if it’s looking a bit thick after you’ve given it another good mix. The reason I use water instead of milk like most recipes is because milk goes off if you let it stand out and the buttercream can turn sour. Beat until the buttercream is the consistency you want it, but to get the light and fluffy texture I usually beat it for 5-10 mins.
    Then it’s time to start assembling the cake. Put one layer of the cake on a cake board or cake stand and put 3 or 4 tablespoons of buttercream onto it. You then need to spread it out – you can use a spoon or normal knife but I like to use a cranked spatula, spreading from side to side, from the middle outward in a rocking motion not like you are buttering toast. Try not to lift the spatula until you’re finished spreading as you’ll lift up crumbs which will get into the buttercream which might make it look less pretty/smooth. Then layer up the cake by alternating cake and buttercream until you get to the top layer. I like to put the top layer on upside down so you get the smooth underside on the top of your cake. Once the top is on, you can buttercream the sides. I like to do this by pointing the spatula downwards and spreading the buttercream round towards you. I don’t usually use a turntable, I just move the stand round a bit at a time. Don’t put too much buttercream on as it’ll all slide off. You can always add more as you go. Then add the buttercream on the top layer. I like to spread it so it just pokes over the top and then I do the sides one last time to smooth it off. Do the same motion where you don’t take the spatula off until it’s fully spread out or you’ll bring crumbs up!
    Once you’re happy with how the buttercream looks (don’t get too hung up on it being perfectly smooth, it’s buttercream not fondant!) pop the cake in the fridge for half an hour to firm up. Don’t skip this step, especially if it’s warm outside or else your cake layers will slide when it’s time to cut! If you’re not eating right away, you might want to put it back in the fridge for half an hour before you cut it too. You could leave it in there for the whole time, but I don’t have a huge fridge and need the space! I also don’t really like cold cake.
    You can then decorate it as you like, I used raspberries but you could use any fruit, flowers, sprinkles or even sweets like crystallised lemon pieces!
    Make sure you use a very sharp knife to cut it as it’ll be a deep cake, and wipe the knife between slicing. Enjoy!

Please let me know if you make it and how it turned out!

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