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Elderflower Cake with Green Gooseberry Compote

When I'm driving through country lanes in late May or early June, suddenly I spy the elderflower coming into bloom. Then I know its time to go and search on gooseberry bushes for the hard, green fruit, far too under-ripe at that stage to eat raw, but wonderful cooked in tarts or fools or in this delicious Compote. Elderflowers have an extraordinary affinity with green gooseberries and by a happy arrangement of nature they are both in season at the same time.


350g (12 oz) soft butter

350g (12oz) caster sugar

4 eggs, preferably free range

350g (12oz) self-raising flour

Elderflower Syrup

2 heads of elderflower

50g (2oz) caster sugar

150ml (5fl oz) water

zest and juice of one unwaxed lemon

We used a round tin with slightly sloping sides –  4cm (1 1/2 inch) deep, bottom diameter 21.5cm (8 1/2 inch), 24cm (9 1/2 inch) across top,  well greased, but a regular 23cm (9 inch) round cake tin will be fine.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

Put the butter, caster sugar, eggs and self-raising flour into a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate. Spread evenly in the well buttered tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour approx. or until golden brown and well risen.

Meanwhile make the syrup.  Put the sugar and water into a saucepan over a medium heat.  Stir until the sugar dissolves, add the elderflowers, bring to the boil for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and add the lemon zest and juice.  Leave aside to cool.  Strain.

As soon as the cake is cooked, pour all the syrup over the top, leave to cool. (see note at end of recipe)

Remove the cake from the tin and serve with Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote and softly whipped cream for dessert.  

A slice of the cake on its own with a cup of tea is also delicious.

Note: If you are serving the cake on its own, only pour half the syrup over it.

Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote

Serves 6-8

900g (2lb) green gooseberries

2 or 3 elderflower heads

600ml (1 pint) cold water

450g (1lb) sugar

First top and tail the gooseberries. Tie 2 or 3 elderflower heads in a little square of muslin, put in a stainless steel or enamelled saucepan, add the sugar and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to the boil and continue to boil for 2 minutes. Add the gooseberries and simmer just until the fruit bursts. Allow to get cold. Serve in a pretty bowl and decorate with fresh elderflowers.

This is a recipe by
Darina Allen
View all my recipes

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