Is anyone else having wildly cathartic moments during this lockdown? It might be the smell of Montreal’s fresh spring grass (insert your own double-entendre) but I’ve been seeing the world in vivd pops of color that’s pulling me out of a “when is this C-crisis gonna end” slump and thrown me onto a creative little cloud that’s helping propel new ways of pushing my imagination.
I’ve been filming a little lockdown happy hour for the past few weeks on Instagram. A bit of a departure from my usual posts, it’s one that I’m enjoying, and apparently my viewers are digging this new (and slightly boozy) perspective. So when I got cocktail recipe to feature on my social media sent in by Raven Rudolph, beverage manager and bartender at the Waldorf Astoria in Dubai’s DIFC, I was intrigued. With St-Germain elderflower liqueur, green-tea-infused gin, and a fat squeeze of lemon, how could I possibly refuse? Especially when those flavors would work beautifully in feather-light, heavenly sponge cake, drenched with sugar syrup and made with love.
No stranger to this beautiful elderflower liqueur, I’ve loved its sweet floral notes the moment it’s heavenly nectar kissed my lips on a tipsy girls night out. Unlike the girls night, the story behind St-Germain is as charming as the taste behind it. An artisanal, all-natural French liqueur created in 2007, elderflower blossoms are harvested once a year during a few fleeting weeks in summer – carefully hand picked at the height of their aroma. With flavor notes of peach, pear, and grapefruit, it’s dances softly on your palate and is a welcome, refined addition to your liquor cabinet. And after making this cake, trust me when I say it will bring a breath of fresh spring air into your kitchen.
*I’ve used the St-Germain in two parts – first in the cake batter, and second, as the base for the sugar syrup. If you want to make this cake alcohol-free, substitute an elderflower cordial for the St-Germain and omit the gin entirely.
Makes one 9 inch loaf or one 9 inch round cake (3 inch high sides). Feel free to spread the batter across two pans, note that the baking time will vary.
St-Germain Elderflower Cake with Green Tea, Gin & Lemon
For the cake:
- 4 eggs
- 1 & 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- zest of half a lemon
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 180 ml St-Germain elderflower liqueur (or non-alcoholic elderflower cordial)
- 20 ml fresh lemon juice
- 50 ml Gin
- I green tea bag
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Confectioners sugar for dusting
- Fresh blueberries or any other berries of your choice (optional)
Butter and flour your baking tin. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 180 celsius (350 degrees Farenheit). Position the oven rack in the center of the oven.
Start by placing placing your tea bag in a cup with the gin. Let the tea infuse for twenty to thirty minutes, then mix with the elderflower liqueur and lemon. Set aside.
In a standing or handheld mixer, beat the eggs slightly. Slowly add the sugar. Beat until creamy and light in color. You want the eggs and sugar to develop volume. This should take about five minutes.
Mix together four, baking soda, lemon zest and salt. Whisking by hand, gently sprinkle flour into the batter with a large wire whisk in three separate additions. If you are using a Kitchen Aid or standing mixer, use the whisk that comes with the machine. *It’s important that you get the sides and bottom of the bowl while you are whisking (how many times did I say the word “whisk” in this paragraph!).
Mix your canola oil with the elderflower, lemon green-tea-infusion and vanilla. Slowly add the liquids into your batter, whisking by hand continuously as the you pour (a lot of arm work here). Keep on whisking until all the liquid has been incorporated and you are left with a lovely, lemon-colored batter.
Pour immediately into your prepared baking tin. You do not want this batter to sit. If it does, the liquids and flour will fall to the bottom of the batter and your cake could develop a rubbery film.
Bake for 45 minutes to one hour or until the top of the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch. Remember that baking times can vary depending on the size of the tins you are using. Start checking for doneness after thirty minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before turning out.
- 1 cup of St-Germain Liqueur
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
In a saucepan, mis together the liqueur and sugar. Heat over medium heat. Let simmer gently for five minutes or until slightly reduced and the sugar has dissolved.
While still warm, place the cake on a serving platter. With a fork or skewer, poke holes over the top of the cake. If using berries to garnish, reserve two tablespoons of the elderflower sugar syrup to toss them in. Pour the remaining sugar syrup on top of the cake.
When you are ready to serve, dust confectioners sugar on top of the cake using a fine mesh strainer. If using fresh blueberries, tumble them on and let them fall as them may. *I find this cake tastes better the next day as the elderflower seeps into the depths of the cake giving it a beautiful damp crumb. Hard to resist eating it immediately though, no judgements either way!