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Gooseberry and elderflower cake

02 March 2016

Things that grow together, go together, as the saying goes. This cake of early summer harvests is perfect for those first tentative picnics of the season.

Gooseberry and elderflower cake
Gooseberry and elderflower cake. Photography by Jason Ingram.

Cooking time

25-30 minutes


1 20cm cake


For the gooseberry compote

  • 500g/1lb 2oz gooseberries
  • 100–150g/3.–5oz caster sugar

For the elderflower syrup

  • 75g/2.oz caster sugar
  • 75ml/2.fl oz water
  • 6–7 elderflowers

For the cake

  • 6 eggs
  • 180g/6oz caster sugar
  • 180g/6oz plain flour
  • 90g/3oz unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 tbsp elderflower syrup
  • Icing sugar, to dust (for decoration)


  • 100ml/3.fl oz double cream
  • 4 tbsp elderflower syrup

Makes a two-layer cake. You will need 2 x deep, round cake tins, 20cm/8in diameter, greased and base-lined.


For the compote, put the gooseberries and 100g/3.oz of the sugar in a saucepan with a splash of water and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook over a medium–low heat until the fruit is soft, then push through a sieve into a bowl. Add more sugar to taste and leave to cool.

For the syrup, put the sugar and water in a small saucepan over a medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. 

Take the pan off the heat and add the flowers, stirring to coat them in syrup. Leave, covered, to infuse and cool for at least half an hour.

For the cake, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Whisk the eggs and sugar together (this should be done using a stand mixer or electric beaters for best effect) until a little mix trickled over the surface leaves a trail, and the mixture has at least doubled in volume. 

Sift in half the flour and fold in. Sift in the rest of the flour and fold in. 

Finally trickle the melted butter into the batter, folding as you go to minimize the loss of volume, and continue folding until everything is incorporated. 

Divide between the two tins and bake for 25–30 minutes until golden, and firm to the touch. Do not open the oven door before 25 minutes have elapsed or the cake will sink. 

Remove from the oven and turn over on to a wire rack, but leave the tins over the top of the sponges for 10 minutes, then remove them. Once cool, drizzle each sponge with 4 tbsp elderflower syrup.

For the cream, whisk the cream and syrup together until stiff enough to spread.

To assemble

Spread the compote and then the cream over one layer of sponge. Place the other sponge carefully on top and dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Grow Your Own Cake by Holly Farrell is published by Frances Lincoln, £16.99. Photography by Jason Ingram.

Visit our cake recipes section for more delicious cake ideas.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.