Lemon cake tends to have a bright, tangy flavor, while elderberries have a mild, sweet berry flavor. When combining these two, we figured a traditional lemon cake was the way to go, with the elderberry in the frosting to bring out the sweetness of the berries. Creating a cake that uses these two components in different ways made it easier for the different flavors to stand out.
Did we mention that elderberry frosting also comes out as a beautiful purple color? We used our Just Elderberry Tea to create the frosting for this lemon elderberry cake recipe, which creates a muted purple color. For a more vibrant color, try using elderberry syrup or fresh elderberry juice. Although, an added bonus of using the tea is that you can keep it on hand to make this cake any time of year!
The purple of the frosting offers great visual contrast once you cut into the vibrant yellow cake. We kept the main exterior frosting color white to help make the elderberry frosting between the cake layers (as well as for the outer accents) pop a bit more. Feel free to mix and match the frostings to your liking.
Of course, you must have tea with your cake. Aside from our delicious wildcrafted elderberry tea, you could also pair this cake with our Self Care Blend elderberry and apricot tea; the Slowly Unwind linden flower tea with elderflower and berries; or the Evening In the Garden lemon rose tea with elderflowers. Of course, there's also the apropos Royal Wedding tea, which mirrors the cake well with flavors of lemon and elderflower. Any of these teas would make wonderful iced tea to serve with this cake, as well.
Lemon Elderberry Cake Recipe
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 heaping Tablespoon lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2-1/2 tablespoons strongly brewed elderberry tea, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease three 9-inch cake pans.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat together on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients just until combined.
With the mixer still running on low, add the buttermilk, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix just until combined. Scrape up the bottom of the bowl to make sure there are no lumps left.
Pour batter evenly into all 3 cake pans. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through.
Let cool for 5 minutes. Remove from cake pan to cooling rack and let cool completely.
While the cake cools, add the cream to a clean mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue beating just until stiff peaks form. Divide by half and set one aside. For the remainder, add the elderberry tea and continue beating just until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard the excess.
Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover just the top with about 1 cup of elderberry frosting. Place the 2nd cake layer on top and evenly cover, again, just the top with about 1 cup of elderberry frosting. Place the third cake layer on top. Spread the white frosting all over the top and sides.
To create the drips shown in the photographs, add more elderberry tea to the remainder of the elderberry frosting in 1/2 teaspoon increments until runny, then mix until incorporated but not until peaks form. Set aside.
Refrigerate everything for 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle the final elderberry frosting over the top of the cake as desired and place cake in the refrigerator for another 15 to 20 minutes.