This lemon elderflower cake, baked in a loaf tin, with a glaze, was entirely inspired by Graham’s gran’s lemon loaf cake. She has since passed, but we still use her recipes as benchmarks and compare much of my baking to hers, especially with old-school recipes.
It’s not as yellow as her cake was, and uses olive oil, spelt flour, and honey, but the texture is similar and it has a fairly strong lemon taste. There’s also a handful of elderflower blossoms in the batter and the floral flavour really comes through. It’s one of my favourite springtime cakes and I make it every year when elderflower is in season.
This recipe is adapted from my lemon rhubarb cake. For some more springtime desserts, try a strawberry elderflower scone cake or German rhubarb cake.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Spelt flour: use light or white spelt flour for the best result. Substitute plain white flour if preferred.
- Elderflower: use half the amount if you want to use dried elderflower blossoms rather than fresh.
- Honey: if you eat honey, I think it’s preferable in this recipe over maple syrup, but both work. I haven’t tried making this recipe with sugar.
- Olive oil: substitute another light-tasting oil for olive, but make sure it’s one that’s liquid at room temperature, or the cake will be too dense when cooled.
The loaf can have a bit of a wonky rise, not quite the perfect dome, and tends to crack a bit. The texture is spot on, though, so we won’t worry about a cracked top.
Note that I use a slightly longer and narrower loaf tin than a standard North American one. It won’t really make a difference, but if you’re using a slightly shorter tin you might get a higher cake.
Elderflowers are edible, but make sure that 1. you’re actually harvesting elderflowers, and 2. avoid using the stalks/green parts of the flower heads (see more about this in the post on elderflower lemonade). Lilac blossoms can be substituted (same rules apply) or even lavender, though you risk a soapy taste in that case. If you want to make the cake and skip the flowers, you can do that too – just make a lemon loaf cake instead.
How to Store
Storage: to store, don’t add the glaze to the cake. Place cooled cake in a sealed container and keep at room temperature for up to three days.
Freezing: place the cake (or slices) into an airtight container and freeze for up to three months.
- Don’t over mix: as with any spelt recipe (which is almost every baking recipe on OE!) it’s important to have a light hand. Spelt contains less gluten and will become tough if over mixed.
- Choose unwaxed lemons: as you’re using the zest of the lemons, try to get organic, unwaxed ones if possible. Regardless, give them a good wash in warm water before zesting.
- Smell the flowers: the key to picking nice elderflower blossoms is giving them a good sniff before harvesting. Not all elderflower is going to taste exactly the same, and you should choose heads that smell very nice to you.
More Edible Flower Recipes
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Lemon Elderflower Cake
- 400 grams light spelt flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 3-4 heads elderflower blossoms only (~1/2 cup)
- 300 ml non-dairy milk
- 120 ml honey or maple syrup
- 60 ml olive oil
- Zest two lemons
- Juice two lemons ~1/4 cup
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Coconut Milk Glaze
- 120 ml full-fat canned coconut milk cream only
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Fresh strawberries halved
- Elderflower blossoms
- Sliced lemons
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease or line a standard loaf tin. Set aside.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the elderflower blossoms.400 grams light spelt flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 3-4 heads elderflower
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, honey, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the larger bowl and gently whisk until just combined. Don't over mix.300 ml non-dairy milk, 120 ml honey, 60 ml olive oil, Zest two lemons, Juice two lemons, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking tin, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack for ten minutes before tipping out of the tin and cooling fully. The cake can be served warm if not glazing. If you are using the glaze, pour it over the cooled cake directly before serving and top with the lemon slices, berries, and elderflower.Fresh strawberries, Elderflower blossoms, Sliced lemons
Coconut Milk Glaze
- Whisk the coconut milk, honey, and lemon juice together in a small bowl until frothy. This can be made slightly ahead of time, but will harden if refrigerated.120 ml full-fat canned coconut milk, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* As mentioned above, honey is best for this cake if you eat honey.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
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