Raspberry and Elderflower Cake

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What? It's my birthday and I have to make my own cake? Whhyyyy? Because I want to. Because it is the only time I get to do what I want to do without having to ask anyone if they would be okay with it. And because I can :D

Being in the throes of summer affords me a plethora of fruity and floral options, and I always love working with a combination of both. I just recently 'rediscovered' St. Germain; it's a gorgeous bottle housing an alluring elixir of elderflowers. Its delicate floral note married with the eau-de-vie base it is macerated in, makes it my go-to summer liqueur. And so this became my spirit of choice for the cake.   

I was also looking for another component to bring to the cake, something a little tart, something fruity, to balance the floral. I looked through my pantry and fridge and examined the options: lemon curd, passion fruit purée and the few preserves I had on hand. Hmmm? No obvious option here, so after baking the cake, I tasted a bit of it with each of them, offered it to willing family members, before finally settling on one that went so perfectly with the elderflower aromas. It was the raspberry preserves.

Since every cake is different, each has its own journey, its own trials and tribulations. I have come some ways from being happy just making a recipe I saw online (usually the best photos win my heart). Now I think about what flavour pairings, I go for differing textures, and I want to do something that pushes the envelope.

When you read a few of my posts, you will find that I say that a lot - push the envelope. With life, as cake, you wither when you rest on your laurels. You deteriorate when you don't learn anything new. And most tragically, you live the same life, the same meals and the same cakes over and over. And that is sad!

So ... a new cake it will be. Perfumed with sweet notes of elderflower, tinged with a bit of tang from raspberries, this cake turned out so lovely and aromatic, perfect for a summery-fruity-floraly-boozy kind of birthday. And you can be sure I had a glass of St. Germain and Prosecco to accompany me on this, er, shall we say, creative process ;)

Elderflower syrup
240 ml (1 cup) water
100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) St. Germain elderflower liqueur

1. In a small saucepan, place the water and sugar.
2. Bring to a boil, then set aside to cool. 
3. When cooled, stir in the St. Germain elderflower liqueur.

Elderflower Cake
420 g (3-1/2 cups) all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
400 g (2 cups) granulated sugar
4 eggs + 1 yolk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp St. Germain elderflower liqueur
240 ml (1 cup) vegetable oil
300 g (1-1/4 cup) buttermilk, at room temperature

1. Butter and flour the sides of 4 20-cm (8-inch) round cake tins, and line the bottoms with parchment paper. 
2. Preheat the oven to 160C or 325F. 
3. Into a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, on medium high speed, beat the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and elderflower liqueur about 10 minutes until fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed. 
5. Drizzle in the oil, and continue beating for another 3-4 minutes. 
6. Reduce the speed to medium low, then alternate adding the flour (in 3 batches) and the buttermilk (in 2 batches). 
7. Give it a good mix with a spatula before dividing the batter between the 4 prepared tins. 
8. Bake for 50 - 55 minutes until a skewer pierced in the center of the cake comes out clean. 
9. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a cooling rack. 
10. When cooled, level the tops with a serrated knife or a cake leveler. 
11. Brush with prepared cake syrup.

Raspberry Spread 
240 ml (1 cup) raspberry preserves

1. Place the raspberry preserve in a blender and blitz until super smooth. 

Elderflower Italian Meringue Buttercream
425 g (2 cups + 2 tbsp) granulated sugar
90 ml (3/8 cup) water
6 egg whites, at room temperature 
Pinch of cream of tartar 
510 g unsalted butter, just slightly softened, cut into 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) cubes 
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 tsp St. Germain elderflower liqueur 

1. In a small saucepan, start heating the sugar and water. Have an infrared (or candy) thermometer ready. 
2. In a clean and dry bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, start whisking the egg whites on medium speed. 
3. As soon as the egg whites turn foamy, add the cream of tartar. Keep whisking the egg whites until you get to the soft peak stage. 
4. Keep an eye on the sugar syrup, as soon as it hits 112 - 115C or 235 - 240F, turn the heat off and VERY VERY CAREFULLY pour the syrup into the running mixing bowl, trickling it down the sides of the bowl. (You do not want to pour it into the whisking area because it will splatter and burn you!) 
5. Keep whisking until you get a voluminous white meringue. 
6. The bowl will get hot, at which point you want to cool it off with damp cold kitchen towels. You can stop whisking at this point long enough to place a larger bowl with ice and/or cold water under the mixing bowl to help it cool quicker. 
7. As soon as the meringue reads 39 - 40C or 102 - 104F, switch the whisk attachment with the beater attachment, then start beating on medium speed. 
8. Add the butter, a cube at a time, in about 5 second increments, the buttercream will start coming together after 2/3 of the butter is added. Continue adding the butter until depleted. 
9. Add the vanilla extract and Elderflower liqueur and beat for another minute. 

The buttercream will keep at room temperature, covered, for up to 2 days in maximum 25C weather. Otherwise you will need to refrigerate it. 

If your buttercream is curdling, or you see water is separating from the butter, the mixture is too cold. Warm the bowl by placing hot towels around the bowl. If your buttercream isn't coming together, or still watery, it may be too warm. Cool the mixing bowl by wrapping it in cold kitchen towels. Then continue beating until it comes together. 


Now that we have our buttercream ready and at room temperature, and our cakes leveled and brushed with syrup, we can continue to assemble them. Make sure your cake board, turntable, offset spatulas, leveler, and a large cookie scooper is also on hand.

1. Check all the layers and choose the best one for the top of the cake. We are looking to place the bottom side up for the top-most layer. 
2. Place a small smear of buttercream on a cake board, then place a layer, bottom side down, centering it as best you can. 
3. Using a cookie scooper, scoop about 3/4 cup of buttercream on top of the layer, leveling it as evenly as possible. 
4. Spread a thin layer of raspberry preserve on one side of the next layer. 
5. Place this layer raspberry side down on the buttercream.
6. Continue layering all the cakes in this way. 
7. Crumb coat the whole cake, then refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes to set and harden the buttercream. 
8. Frost the whole cake and decorate as desired.

You Might Also Like