Looking for the perfect treat for mum this Mother’s Day? Try Valentina Harris’ Lemon and Elderflower cake. The delicate fragrance of elderflower is amazing when combined with lemon, and in this lovely teatime cake both flavour and scent come together beautifully.
Lemon and Elderflower Cake
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30–35 minutes
For the Cake:
butter, for greasing
225g/8oz/scant 1 cup caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp for sprinkling
4 large eggs
225g/8oz/heaped 1¾ cups plain white flour, sifted
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated unwaxed lemon zest
For the Glaze:
115ml/3¾fl oz/scant ½ cup elderflower cordial
1 tbsp grated unwaxed lemon zest
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 edible elderflower heads (optional), shaken and divided into small florets, plus edible flowers, to decorate
For the Filling:
300ml/10½fl oz/scant 1¼ cups double or whipping cream
2 tbsp elderflower cordial
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4. Line 2 x 20cm/8in shallow cake tins with greaseproof paper, then grease the paper with butter and sprinkle with the 1 tablespoon sugar.
To make the cake, separate the eggs into 2 bowls, then cover and chill the egg whites. Whisk the yolks until fluffy, then sprinkle in the sugar, one spoonful at a time, and continue whisking until the mixture is thick, light and pale. Gradually fold in the flour using a metal spoon, alternating with the lemon juice and zest, until mixed together.
Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then gently fold into the flour mixture to make a batter. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until golden and firm when lightly pressed with your finger. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack, remove the paper and leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. Put the elderflower cordial, lemon zest and sugar in a small pan over a low heat and heat through, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat slightly and boil for 6 minutes, or until syrupy. Drop in the elderflower florets and remove from the heat. Leave to cool slightly, then strain through a fine sieve into a bowl.
To make the filling, whip the cream in a bowl until thick, then fold in the elderflower cordial. Spread the cream over one cake and top with the second cake. Lightly prick the top with a cocktail stick in several places, then spoon the warm glaze over and decorate with the flowers.
Renowned cookery writer Valentina Harris has an extraordinary family history to tell: political activism, scandalous love and exile.
Against a backdrop of different cultures and cuisines, Valentina narrates these beautiful and powerful stories along with her discovery of pure, intense happiness from cooking. Each of her recipes tells a tale – you’ll find the Chinese Tea-Smoked Duck, her grandmother’s legacy of a life in Peking, the Seafood Risotto that Beppino, their cook, taught her in Italy and the Nougat Semifreddo that she used to eat with her father on the via Veneto in Rome.
Here are 85 recipes that have been handed down through the generations or inspired by family stories and experiences. This is the culmination of Valentina’s career and the book of her heart and soul.