I hosted book club in June. The best month! I love hosting book club because I love to bake. I love leafing through cookbooks to come up with a cooking challenge, but I was feeling uninspired. Then I watched the royal wedding and like the rest of the world was dazzled by the grace and the beauty of that picture perfect day with the cloudless blue sky. I read about the royal wedding cake and that it was Lemon and Elderflower and knew we had a winner. Perfect for a summer book club.
I have always loved elderflowers. In fact, my dad found a picture of me as a baby by a washbasin picking elderflower berries. Also growing up, elderflowers weren’t that popular. So when I went to Austria I fell in love with their many uses of elderflowers. They bake with the berries and use them in sauces and make juice concentrate out of the flowers. They call it Hollersaft and it is delicious and look how pretty it is. It tastes like light delicate flowers. Yum. So a few years ago when the French elderflower liqueur St. Germain hit the American craft cocktail scene, I was super excited. If there is a cocktail on a menu that has St. Germain there is a 100% chance of me ordering it.
This recipe is from Stacy Zarin Goldberg and it appeared in the Washington Post. Here’s the link to the recipe. For such a show-stopping dessert it is actually easy to make. First step. Make the lemon curd. I used this recipe and you can cut the recipe in half. I would say the hardest part of the recipe is making sure the lemon seeds don’t get in your juice. I solved this by hand juicing the lemons and then straining it over a wire mesh strainer over the pan.
Next up make the cake layers. In my opinion, it takes just as long to butter and prepare the pan with parchment paper as it does to make the rest of the cake. This recipe makes very thin layers and I struggled to get the cake batter to spread all the way to the edges. And I baked the layers a good five minutes longer than the recipe said. Also because I was unable to find elderflower juice, I just used only St. Germain and it turned out fine.
Now time for the fun stuff -the decorating. This recipe calls for crystalizing violets which is easy and simple to do and looks stunning. For best results, I would recommend starting the night before, but I did it the morning of my event and it turned out fine. Take violets from your garden (or in my case my mom’s garden) Snip the stems close to the base of the flower. Dip the flowers in beaten egg white and then in extra fine sugar. Let dry on a paper towel. I liked the mixture of the fresh flowers and the crystalized ones. Violets are edible by the way.
After cooling the cake and making the frosting. I did an extra step that I would usually not do. I gave the cake a crumb coat, a light layer of frosting and allow it to chill for about 20 minutes in the refrigerator. This gave it very clean and smooth lines when I added the rest of the frosting.
Decorating the cake, I started in the left-hand corner and made a triangle with the flowers. Decorating cakes with flowers is simple, easy and fun. This cake tastes absolutely delicious and depending on the season you can vary the flowers, in early summer violets work best because they are easy to find in home gardens and in late summer you are in luck. Try roses, lavender, and borage with its lovely, tiny blue flowers. All edible. All super beautiful.
Truly, one of the most delicious things I have ever baked.