As a child, I paired elderflower cordial only with fizzy water and ice. Yet, after posting my recipe for cordial recently, I began to wonder why I have never incorporated an ingredient that I love so much in my cooking. Elderflower cordial’s delicate, citrusy sweetness makes it the ideal accompaniment to tart summer berries and perfect for gently infusing cakes – two elements that are brought together in this recipe.
In the mood for something more robust than a traditional sponge to stand up to the thick, sugary cordial, I took inspiration from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s financiers with their crisp crust and dense, tender crumb. Named after the gold bars they were originally made to resemble, financiers’ ground almonds and browned butter lend them a complex, nutty flavour that works wonderfully well here with an elderflower-infused strawberry compote and fresh strawberry crown.
For the final flourish, a tangy yogurt icing acts as a foil to the rich buttery cake and its sweet fruit centre. I couldn't resist adding a touch of elderflower cordial to the icing, as in all other aspects of the recipe; after all, it’s about time that my baking paid respect to its elders.
Makes 8 cakes, depending on the size of your tin
- 300g strawberries
- 1 tbsp elderflower cordial
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- 115g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- 40g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 125g icing sugar
- 140g ground almonds
- 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
- 100g strawberries, cut into eighths (or smaller)
- 2 tbsp elderflower cordial, for brushing
- 1 x 12 hole muffin tin
- 100g thick, Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 tbsp elderflower cordial
- A handful offlaked almonds, toasted
- To make the compote, cut the strawberries into small cubes and add to a small saucepan with the elderflower and lemon juice.
- Place over a low heat for around 25 minutes, occasionally stirring and crushing the strawberries with the back of a wooden spoon.
- When the fruit has broken down and you have a thick syrup, remove the compote from the heat. Set aside until ready to use.
- Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7.
- In a pan, warm the butter over medium heat. Use a little softened butter to grease 8 holes of a muffin tin, dust with flour and chill in the fridge.
- Heat the remaining butter until the milk solids turn nut brown and the clear liquid is a rich, amber colour. Strain into a bowl using a muslin or tea towel, discard the solids and whisk in the honey. Set aside to cool.
- Sieve the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl, then stir in the ground almonds. Stir in the egg whites until well combined, then pour in the browned butter and mix until smooth.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared tins, and gently place a few strawberries along the centre of the mixture – the strawberries move outwards as the cakes rise and expand, so it’s best to start with them in the centre.
- Bake for six minutes, then turn down the heat to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and cook for a further six minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the cakes in there for five minutes to firm up.
- Remove and, using a fork, gently prick some inconspicuous holes in the cracks of the cake or under the fruit. Brush the top of the cakes with a little elderflower cordial.
- Allow to cool for five minutes in the tins, then turn out on to a rack right-side-up to cool completely.
- While the cakes are cooling, make your icing.
- Simply mix the ingredients together until smooth.
- If you haven’t already, toast the flaked almonds in the oven at 160c for 5 minutes until golden brown. Keep an eye on these, otherwise you’ll be throwing out burned nuts!
- With a chopstick or similar implement, carefully make a hole in the top of the cake to about half way through. Swirl the chopstick around to widen the cavity at the centre, without widening the hole at the top.
- Put the compote into a piping bag and fill each hole. You may need to pipe a bit in, push it down with the chopstick, and repeat until the hole is full.
- Zig zag each cake with icing and then sprinkle on the flaked almonds (and, if you like, a sprig of elderflowers) so that the chopstick hole is covered.
- Enjoy with a cup of tea or a cool glass of elderflower cordial!