If you’ve been following the royal wedding (or even if you haven’t), you’ve probably heard about the spectacular elderflower cake that pastry chef Claire Ptak designed for the much-anticipated wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Windsor Castle released a photograph of the beautiful cake, writing:
It was designed by Claire Ptak and features elderflower syrup made at The Queen’s residence in Sandringham from the estate’s own elderflower trees, as well as a light sponge cake uniquely formulated for the couple.
Bakers and bloggers around the world have been quick to post their own recipes of elderflower cakes, but most of them call for elderflower liqueur, such as the delicious but quite expensive brand St. Germaine’s. The cake chosen by Meghan and Harry did not use elderflower liqueur, though, but elderflower syrup.
Elderflower syrup is a delicious and versatile syrup that can be used in many ways. You can drizzle it over fresh fruit, use it in alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, add it to recipes instead of simple syrup, and more.
And you’re in luck, because elder shrubs (which produce elderflowers and elderberries) grow wild throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and beyond, so chances are that you can harvest your own elderflowers and make your own syrups, cordials, liqueurs, teas, health remedies (remember, the flowers are not just delicious but also medicinal, just like the berries) and more.
Best of all, they’ll be blooming soon all over the country, so this is the perfect time to learn how to find them.
Here’s the simple recipe for elderflower syrup, from my book, Elderberries: The Beginner’s Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks & More.
I’ve also linked my gluten free cake and cupcake recipe that I use for gluten free elderflower lemon cakes and cupcakes at the end of the post, and have instructions on how to convert any yellow cake to an elderflower cake.
- 5 cups sugar
- 6 1/2 cups boiling water
- 4 lemons, washed (preferably organic)
- 30 large Elderflower heads, shaken to remove dirt and insects, then thick stalks trimmed off with kitchen scissors
- Boil the sugar and water to make a light syrup. Let cool completely (warm syrup will discolor the elder flowers).
- Grate the rind of the lemons with a fine grater and add to the syrup. Slice the lemons into thick slices and add to the syrup. Add the flowers and stir.
- Cover and leave to macerate for 48 hours.
- Strain the syrup mixture through clean fine muslin cloth or fine sieve into a clean bowl. Using a funnel, fill sterilized bottles with the syrup. Either process in a hot water bath or store in the refrigerator.
Ways to use elderflower syrup:
- Make an elderflower cake by preparing your favorite yellow or lemon cake and then poking holes in the cooked and cooled cake, drizzling elderflower syrup over it. Frost as desired or serve with whipped cream.
- Make elderflower cordials by mixing elderflower syrup with plain or carbonated water.
- Use in cocktails.
- Drizzle over chopped, fresh strawberries for a delicious, easy dessert (garnish with a few spare elderflowers if you have them, for a beautiful presentation).
- Drizzle over fresh fruit and ice cream.
- Add to lemonade for a swoon-worthy elderflower lemonade.
- Use in recipes to make decadent homemade ice creams and more.
I posted this simple elderflower lemonade recipe on Instagram last year.
If you’d like to make a gluten free elderflower cake, this is the recipe I used for the gluten free elderflower lemon cupcakes and mini-cakes that my son Alex and I sold at the farmers’ market last year. I make the lemon version and then use a chopstick to poke a few holes in each cupcake and then drizzle elderflower syrup over the cake, especially on the holes. Frost with lemon, cream cheese or vanilla frosting, or just drizzle with elderflower glaze — a mixture of powdered sugar and elderflower syrup. Garnish it with a few more elderflowers for a really whimsical touch.
Check out my elderberry book for information on how to find elder flowers and elderberries, how to use them for health remedies and more than 70 recipes — including a recipe for that otherwise expensive but so delicious elderflower liqueur too!
Note: We are participants in Amazon’s affiliate program. This page contains affiliate links to my book. Purchases made through our links earn us a small commission at no extra cost to you and earn me a little more as an author. Thanks for using our links to make your Amazon purchases! ~Alicia