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Fiona Cairns’ Elderflower, Orange & Passion Fruit Layer Cake

Most years I clamber through the hedgerows in May or June and brew a few bottles of homemade elderflower cordial. This year I’m just too late as the tiny white lacy flowers that line our hedgerows at the beginning of summer are over. Fortunately, really good elderflower cordial is widely available in the supermarkets. I created this recipe for Belvoir Cordials – my go-to favourite range.
My elderflower, orange and passion fruit cake is extra moist – from the whole oranges and ground almonds so really useful if you wish to bake a couple of days ahead and assemble on the day as it keeps so well. Decorate the cake with any edible flowers of your choice – I have used tiny violas but a sprinkling of rosebuds, marigolds, pansies, geraniums, daisies or a selection of edible flower petals would look equally stunning.

For a perfect way to celebrate any occasion this summer, serve the cake with a glass of prosecco laced with elderflower cordial.
Tip – Do remember when using passion fruit to buy a few days beforehand as they are often sold under ripe in supermarkets. Once the skins are crinkly, they are fully ripened.

Fiona Cairns’ Elderflower, Orange & Passion Fruit Layer Cake
Serves 8
Perfect for spring and summer entertaining with afternoon tea or as a special dessert. This cake is very moist and keeps well if baked a day or two in advance. Simply whip up the icing and assemble just before serving.


For the cake
• 2 small sweet oranges (total weight around 300g)
• 3 tablespoons Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
• 300g caster sugar
• 4 large eggs
• 250g unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for the tins
• 150g plain flour
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp fine salt
• 150g ground almonds

For the syrup
• 3 tablespoons Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
• 1tbsp caster sugar

For the Elderflower Cream
• 1 x 250g tub mascarpone
• 1 x 200ml tub crème fraiche (not low fat)
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• 7-8 tablespoons Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
• 1 tbsp caster sugar
• 3-4 passion fruit
• A small selection fresh edible flowers (ensure dry and pesticide free) – I used violas in the photo
TIP: In May and June when the elderflowers fill our hedgerows you could surround the cake with a wreath of elderflower heads.


• Place the whole, washed and unpeeled oranges in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring up to the boil and simmer gently for about 2 hours – until they are completely soft. You may need to occasionally top up the water level. Drain, cool & remove the stalks, cut in half and remove any seeds. In a food processor, blitz to a puree adding the elderflower cordial. A much quicker method is to prick the oranges all over with the point or a skewer and microwave for 8-10 minutes until completely soft.
• Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/375F/gas mark 5.
• Lightly butter 2 x 20cm round tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
• Melt the butter in a small pan (or in the microwave) and set aside to cool.
• Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, tip in the ground almonds and set aside.
• In an electric mixer using the whisk attachment, or a large bowl and electric whisk, beat the eggs and sugar until they become pale, fluffy and thickened (about 5 minutes).
• Using a large spoon or spatula, gently fold in the cooled melted butter, the flour mixture and the orange pulp.
• Divide between the 2 prepared tins and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean or it springs back to the touch.
• Meanwhile make the syrup by mixing the cordial and sugar together in a little bowl. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven prick all over with a cocktail stick and pour syrup evenly over the cakes. Leave to cool in their tins.
• When ready to assemble, simply split each cake in half horizontally (I use a serrated knife). Soften the mascarpone in a bowl by mixing it and then stir in the crème fraiche. Gradually add the vanilla, elderflower cordial and caster sugar mixing all the time.
• Cut the passion fruit in half and scoop out the pulp into a small bowl.
• Place one of the 4 layers of cake onto a cake stand or serving plate.
• Spread with a quarter of the elderflower cream and a spoonful or so of the passion fruit. Top with the second layer of cake and repeat until you have 4 layers of cake – I keep the flat base of one of the cakes for the top (turned upside down). Spread the remaining cream and passion fruit over the top of the cake and decorate with edible flowers.
• The cake can be assembled and stored in the fridge for a few hours before serving if necessary.

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