elderflower and almond cake

i’m a sucker for cakes which have ground nuts as the main ingredient rather than flour – two of my favourites are nigel slater’s pistachio and orange cake with lemon rosewater icing and diana henry’s rose-drenched lime and yoghurt cake.

i love the slightly dense moist texture of these cakes as well as the way that you can load them with fragrant syrups so the flavours really sing. the way that the nuts carry the citrus and floral flavours is also something special.

this version with lemon, elderflower and almonds is very similar to the two mentioned above and just as good - i expect i’ll make time and again. the icing is something new though – both rich and light it’s a nice way to add an extra layer of elderflower flavour. and it looks ever so pretty when sprinkled with pistachios and rose petals.

elderflower and almond cake (serves 8-10)

225g butter, softened, plus extra for the tin

50g self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

200g ground almonds

225g golden caster sugar plus 15g extra

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 eggs, beaten

150ml undiluted elderflower cordial (i use bottle green cordial)

150g mascarpone

150ml double cream

pistachios and rose petals for decorating

preheat the oven to 180c and grease a 23cm springform cake tin with butter then line with greaseproof paper.

in a mixer, cream the butter, lemon zest and 225g sugar together until pale and fluffy. add the eggs gradually, beating well between each addition. in a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and almonds then add this to the butter-sugar mix – beat until mixed together and then put this into the cake tin, smoothing the top. bake for 35-45 minutes until risen and golden.

while the cake is cooking make a syrup by mixing, in a small pan, 100ml of cordial, the extra sugar and lemon juice. heat and mix until the sugar dissolves then set aside to cool.

when you take the cake out of the oven, leave it in its tin and make small holes over the surface using a skewer or fork and then pour over the elderflower syrup, spreading it all over the cake’s surface so it sinks in evenly. leave to cool.

for the icing, mix the remaining 50ml elderflower cordial and mascarpone together until smooth. add the double cream and mix again to make a smooth icing. when the cake is completely cool, remove it from the tin and spread with the icing. decorate with the pistachios and rose petals.