Elderflower and Roasted Strawberry Layer Cake #CakeSliceBakers

This was the one.

Every time I get a new cookbook, there is always one recipe that I can't wait to make.

One that makes you want to turn on the oven and immediately start baking. With last year's cookbook, this was the one that initially piqued my interest.  It turned out to not be my absolute favorite from the book (that honor went to this bake), but was still quite good with a couple tweaks.

In The New Way to Cake, this Elderflower and Roasted Strawberry Layer Cake got me excited.

And I wasn't disappointed.

Honestly, I haven't had a total flop yet from this book.

*Knocks on wood*

I still have recipes I need to try from The New Way to Cake, but this one will be a serious contender for favorite.  Check out the links at the bottom of this post to see what the other lovely bakers made!

I love.love.love The Great British Baking Show, and contestants frequently use elderflower as a flavor.  Harry and Meghan chose a Lemon and Elderflower cake for their 2018 royal wedding.  I guess it's a British thing. Or a Northern European thing--I've seen stuff with elderflower flavor at Ikea too. Edit: apparently, they also grow in NM! I gave my mom a little taste of the cordial and it immediately brought back memories of a tree that grew in her yard as a child. They called the fruits “wonderberries” and my grandma used to make jam using them. She hadn’t tasted them since childhood, but recognized the taste immediately. Crazy how scents and flavors can do that!

I had never tried it, though.

Elderflower cordial is made from the blossoms of elder trees, which are plentiful in Northern Europe. In the summer, people gather the flowers and infuse them in a lemony simple syrup to use in all kinds of refreshing drinks.

The trees also produce darkly colored berries, from which people have made elderberry syrup for centuries. I haven't tried it myself, but my friends who are in to homeopathic remedies swear by the stuff to treat colds.  In mythology, the tree itself had magical properties and could protect against evil.  (The Elder Wand from Harry Potter is made of wood from the elder tree--stemming *har har* from these stories)

I ordered a bottle of cordial from Amazon, and was very surprised by the flavor.

It is floral and fragrant, but not at all like rose or lavender.  It's kind of the duck billed platypus of floral flavors--in a category unto itself and very hard to describe.  Sweet. Kind of...musky? The closest thing I can liken it to is that kind of tangy flavor in lemon Brisk Iced Tea--without the tea flavor.  I don't like Brisk Iced Tea, and "musky" reminds me of a rodent or mold or something horrible.  Those descriptors make it sound awful when it's not at all.

But there you go. Just try it yourself--it's pleasant and fresh. And I guess won't pursue a career writing descriptions for floral flavors.  "Musky with a hint of processed, bottled tea." Haha!

Look at that drippy strawberry goodness.  Aaaaggghhhh *Drools like Homer Simpson* I had extra strawberry reduction, so I put it on the top as well.  Because...really?  Can you have too much strawberry?

The cake features the cordial, strawberries roasted in the oven to intensify the flavor, and strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream--which tastes like a frosting strawberry milkshake.

Meringue buttercreams are the kings of frostings. French, Swiss, Italian--give 'em all to me.  Smooth, creamy, fluffy, and not too sweet.  It's more work than butter-and-powdered sugar frosting, but SO worth the effort.

When I baked the cake, I was concerned that I'd ruined it. I baked them for the recommended amount of time (and have a thermometer in my oven to verify), but the layers turned out very dark on the outside--presumably because of the extra sugar from the cordial.  They also seemed dry.

After they cooled, I trimmed the caramelized portions off of the cakes because I think it makes the slices look prettier. The recipe calls for pouring a whole two tablespoons of syrup on to each layer, and trimming the edges allowed the dry-ish cake to slurp up all that elderflower goodness. Together with the pureed strawberry reduction, the layers were perfectly moist.

All in all, it was a super summery treat.

So give this Elderflower and Roasted Strawberry Layer Cake a try! It tastes like British summer time in a slice.

Or so I assume. Really, I have no idea what British summertime tastes like--but I can verify that this tastes delicious;)

Elderflower and Roasted Strawberry Layer Cake

from The New Way to Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi

Cake Layers:
2 "shy cups" flour (don't pack it in at all)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 T milk
2 T elderflower cordial
1 C softened butter
1 C + 2 T sugar
Zest from one lemon
4 eggs

Strawberry Reduction:
1 lb fresh strawberries, stems removed and sliced in half
1/4 C sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 C plus 1 T egg whites
1 C sugar
1 1/3 C softened butter
(and reserved strawberry reduction)

6 T elderflower cordial

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line the bottoms of three 6" cake tins with parchment.
2. Mix the flour and baking powder and set aside. Whisk together the milk and elderflower cordial in a small bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy--about 5 minutes. 
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each. The mix might start to look curdled--if it does add 1 T of the flour mixture.  On low speed, add 1/2 of the flour mix, then the milk mixture. Finish with the remaining flour and divide the batter between prepared tins.  
4. Bake for 35ish minutes, until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs.  Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from tins and cool on a wire rack until cool.  Then refrigerate to firm up.

Strawberry Reduction:
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place stemmed and cut berries in a baking dish and toss with vanilla and sugar.  Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring one time halfway through the baking time. You will know that the strawberries are ready when they have softened and the juices are syrupy.  Cool completely and transfer to a food processor--blend until smooth. Put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble.

1.  Using the bowl of the stand mixer (wipe it down with vinegar to remove any traces of grease so that the meringue will work), whisk the egg whites and sugar together.  Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Make sure that the bottom of the mixer bowl does not touch the water.  Whisking constantly, cook the mixture until it reaches 150 degrees on a candy thermometer or until you don't feel any sugar granules when you rub a bit between your fingers.

2. Remove from the heat, and fit to the mixer. With a whisk attachment, beat on high until the whites are about twice the volume and are white and thickened. Once the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch, begin adding the butter a cube at a time.  Beat until all the butter is incorporated and it is smooth and glossy.  It will likely look like a soupy, horrible mess at first, but fear not! Just continue beating and it will come together.  If, after 10 minutes, it still looks awful, put the bowl in the refrigerator and leave it for 20 minutes before beating again.

3. Add about 1/2 cup of the strawberry reduction to the buttercream and beat until smooth. Meringue buttercreams get quite firm when cold, so keep it at room temp until you are ready to assemble.

1. Take the cake layers out of the fridge and level/trim them.
2.  Brush each layer with 2 T of cordial.
3. Place first layer of cake on a cake board, and put a scoop of buttercream. Level the frosting with an offset spatula--making sure it gets all the way to or over the edges.  Add 1 T of strawberry puree to the center of the layer, making sure that an inch around the edge remains clear.
4.  Top with another layer of cake and repeat.
5. Add the third layer of cake, top with buttercream, then thinly frost around the sides.  Put the cake in the fridge to make it more solid.
6. Top with swirls of buttercream, fresh strawberries, and remaining puree.

Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through. This year it is The New Way To Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi. We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th - never before - we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes! Follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the thumbnail pictures below to take you to each of our cakes. If you have a blog and are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details. The Cake Slice Bakers also have a new Facebook group called The Cake Slice Bakers and Friends. This group is perfect for those who do not have a blog but want to join in the fun and bake through this book.
It is a new year and a new book - The New Way To Cake - and our choices for July 2020 were ~
Elderflower & Roasted Strawberry Layer Cake
Pineapple & Saffron Syrup Cakes
Fig, Blackberry & Tahini Cake


  1. It really was good, wasn't it? I love the red top of the cake too. Great idea. Thanks for all of the info on elderflower cordial too! I agree, it's not like the other floral flavors.

  2. This cake was great. I dont normally like floral flavors but the Elderflower was actually pretty good.

  3. Mmmm, that looks so good. And it does look like summer - definitely!

  4. This was a great cake, wasn't it! And, yes, elderflowers mean summertime to me. Love it.

  5. This is so pretty! My reaction to the texture of the cake was the same, dry. I totally skipped the step to use some of the puree between the layers, and boy was that frosting great.

  6. So pretty!! Love that you added more of the puree over the top!


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