Lemon elderflower cake is a late spring standard in Europe, with a sweet floral flavour perfect for this time of year. This vegan version is baked a loaf tin and has a simple coconut milk glaze to make a cake reminiscent of lemon drizzle cake so common in the UK and the Canadian prairies. Skip to the recipe →
At the risk of pissing off everyone reading this, I’m going to talk about my husband’s grandmother in relation to this recipe! I know this is a common joke right now – seems like everyone is trying to tell a different version of the same joke – but I think if you want recipes alone, then you can pay for the content. (And there’s a skip to recipe button up top, too.)
So Graham’s gran makes this lemon loaf cake every time she has guests, or hosts coffee in the building she lives in. I’ve only known her for a decade but I guess she’s been baking this cake forever and has recently started using a packaged mix sometimes. She’s 86, so it’s pretty impressive that she’s still baking, packaged or not.
I love her baking; it’s very old-school prairie style, and very British despite her dad having immigrated from Sweden. Graham compares every chocolate chip cookie to hers, and mine have never been as good as hers, and likely never will be. It’s a very different style of baking and cooking than what I grew up with.
This lemon elderflower cake, baked in a loaf tin, with a glaze, was entirely inspired by her lemon loaf cake. It’s not as yellow, and uses olive oil, spelt flour, and maple syrup or honey instead of more traditional ingredients. There’s also a handful of elderflower blossoms in the batter and the floral flavour really comes through.
This recipe is adapted from my lemon rhubarb cake (which I have updated photos for but haven’t gotten around to updating yet). 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, however, so I didn’t worry about that too much.
Note that I use a 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. Lilac blossoms can be substituted (same rules apply) or even lavender, though you risk soap 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.
There’s an option here to choose either maple syrup or honey, and if you eat honey, I recommend using it. The flavour is excellent with the lemon and olive oil and suits the spring theme. And the berries aren’t mandatory, but they are very pretty.
And lastly, if you visit my site often, you might notice that these photos are sort of warm and glowing. It’s this summer light! I shoot in a giant west-facing window and there aren’t any trees particularly close by, so the light is much warmer than it is in the winter months.
Let’s connect! If you liked this recipe, make sure to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you! Tag me on instagram @occasionallyeggs and #occasionallyeggs so I can see what you’re making, and stay in touch via email, facebook, and pinterest.
- 400 grams / 2 1/2 cups light spelt flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3-4 heads elderflower, blossoms only (~1/2 cup)
- 300 ml / 1 1/4 cups nondairy milk (oat, almond, etc.)
- 125 ml / 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey*
- 60 ml / 1/4 cup olive oil
- Zest two lemons
- Juice two lemons (~1/4 cup)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Coconut Milk Glaze
- 125 ml / 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk, cream only
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Fresh strawberries, halved
- Elderflower blossoms
- Sliced lemons
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
• The glaze will soak into the cake if it's left on it. It doesn't taste bad, but it will soften slightly if stored with the glaze.
* As mentioned above, honey is best for this cake if you eat honey.