A truly seasonal treat, this almond, gooseberry and elderflower cake is frankly irresistible.
It’s a recipe that can be dressed up or down depending on your preferences. I’ve filled the sponges with gooseberry jam and a layer of compote before topping with pearl sugar and crystallised flowers.
I’ve also, as seen in the picture below, simply filled them with jam and topped with an elderflower-scented buttercream. Both versions had an elderflower drizzle. I garnished the buttercream version with whitecurrants as gooseberries, let’s be honest, taste amazing but look decidedly blobby on a cake. However, you may well be more artistic than me, so go for it if you want to. Or just dust with icing sugar and call it quits.
The recipe is inspired by Jane Hornby’s Cherry Bakewell Cake from the BBC website, an all-in-one 2:2:2:4 sponge, but with half the flour replaced by ground almonds. It makes a beautifully light, moist cake. Or cakes.
I made individual sponges but the quantities given will fill two normal 20cm tins. If you’re using a 12-hole mini Victoria sandwich tin you will probably have some batter left over, so have a few paper cupcases on standby.
If you’d prefer to make the jam/compote filling you’ll need around 500g of gooseberries, washed, topped and tailed. Cook them gently with a splash of elderflower cordial until soft. Lift out the berries with a slotted spoon and drain in a sieve, keeping any liquid they release as well as the liquid in the pan. Reduce this down to a thick syrup, sweeten to taste, add back to the berries and cool. Add the compote just before serving the cake.
Gooseberry and Elderflower Cake
200g softened butter, plus some for greasing
200g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
100g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large eggs
For the drizzle:
For the buttercream:
300g softened butter
Approx 600g icing sugar
To garnish, your choice of:
Lemon zest, whitecurrants, redcurrants, pearl sugar, crystallised flowers, icing sugar
Heat the oven to 180C/160 fan/360 F/Gas Mark 4 and grease and base line your tins.
Put the sponge ingredients into a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until smooth. Spoon into your tins, filling them about three-quarters full, and level the tops. Bake for around 30 minutes for large sponges and 18-20 minutes for individual ones or until they’re golden and springy and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Cool in the tins for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Using a toothpick or slim skewer, poke holes in the sponges and drizzle with a few tablespoons of elderflower cordial. Allow to cool completely before filling.
To make the buttercream, beat the softened butter in a bowl and gradually add the icing sugar. Loosen with tiny splashes of elderflower cordial until you have a mixture suitable for piping.
Once the cakes are cool, you’re ready to fill. Slice individual sponges in half. Spread the bottom half with a layer of gooseberry jam (followed by a layer of compote if you’ve decided on that option.)
Top with the other sponge and pipe your buttercream on top, if using, before finishing with your choice of decorations. NB if you decide to simply dust with icing sugar, do it at the last minute, otherwise it will be absorbed into the drizzle.