Upside-down blueberry and elderflower cake

It was a rainy evening. Somehow British summers always end up a little disappointing in this respect. A couple of weeks of blazing sunshine, followed by constant, unfailing miserable weather that makes it feel more like October than July (I say this like it’s a bad thing, but I’m already looking forward to autumn). I’d been super ill that week, and felt exhausted. I’d eaten like crap and slept badly, and sometimes you just need to clear your mind, bake, and then sit and eat some damn good cake.

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I proceeded to make the following cake three times in the space of about two weeks. This is no bad thing, although I think the first cake tasted the best and the second looked the neatest (I will add here that I didn’t eat all three by myself – however bad things get I think I’ve yet to eat an entire cake to myself).

This is one of those cakes that makes you feel comforted as soon as you start eating. It’s a cake to be eaten with coffee or after a good meal, or sometimes as breakfast, because it does have fruit in it and that’s definitely okay. The recipe originally comes from Scandilicious by Signe Johansen, however I have revised it slightly with each bake. I have yet to be adventurous enough to try it with a different fruit (although the first version I made was blueberry & raspberry), but there’s time for that. I’m pretty sure it’d be great with blackberries, and after all, tis the season etc etc.

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Upside-down blueberry and elderflower cake (from Scandilicious by Signe Johansen)

300g blueberries (or other soft fruit)
50ml elderflower cordial
4 eggs
250g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g plain flour
125g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
125g butter, melted
125g Greek yoghurt
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3-4, and grease a 23cm springform tin. Wrap the outside of the tin in a layer of foil to create a seal to stop fruit juice leaking out.
  2. Spread the blueberries evenly over the base of the tin, drizzle with the elderflower and leave to macerate.
  3. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla with a mixer/hand whisk for 5-8 mins until pale and fluffy. When you remove the whisk, the trail of mixture it leaves on the surface should remain visible for 2-3 seconds.
  4. Combine the flour, almonds, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Mix the melted butter and yoghurt together. Gradually mix the melted butter/yoghurt and dry ingredients into the beaten egg mixture, alternating between wet and dry ingredients until combined.
  5. Pour the batter over the blueberries and bake until the top looks golden and feels springy and firm to the touch. This seems to be anywhere between 40-60 minutes, depending on your oven. Pierce with a skewer to check it’s cooked through.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for as long as humanly possible before releasing the springform and flipping the cake upside down onto a plate (original recipe says leave for 15 minutes – this was not long enough to stop my first cake breaking in half)
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Bløtkake (or Strawberry, Elderflower and Vanilla Cream Cake)

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It has been such an unbelievably beautiful weekend! Admittedly I did have to work yesterday, but then I spent the evening at my friends’ housewarming, for which I made this cake, and today I have eaten roast dinner and sat in the sun reading Harry Potter down at Grantchester Meadows. Basically this is the way every Sunday should be.

This cake is an unusual one – the closest I can think of in terms of the texture it has is the chiffon cake I made for Rachel’s birthday last year. But the strawberry and elderflower flavour is really delicious, and it’s a lovely light, fresh summer cake to have. The recipe says to make this in one tin and then cut it in half, but my ability to cut in a straight line is basically non-existent, and I didn’t want to mess it up, so I separated the mixture into two tins and then halved the baking time. I only realised that I should halve the baking time when they’d been in for about 15 minutes and I went to check on them and they were cooked. Disaster averted! I will also confess that I did cheat, and I didn’t make the custard, mostly because I already had some ready-made stuff that Oli had bought, so it seemed silly to make more. However, the recipe for custard is below if you are feeling more industrious than me! The leftover elderflower cordial which is infused with strawberry goodness is delicious diluted with a bit of water – she suggests pouring it over the cake, but I was worried it would make the cake too soggy, so I drank it instead. Totally worth it.

Next week is the BEER FESTIVAL in Cambridge, which means I’ll be spending a large amount of my evenings sitting outside drinking beer (and praying for continuing good weather), but I might also try and find the time to make a walnut, chocolate and honey tart.

Bløtkake (from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen)

Sponge:

4 medium eggs

150g caster sugar

1/2tsp vanilla extract

150g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Filling and topping:

1 punnet fresh strawberries

elderflower cordial

1/2 batch skoleboller custard (see bottom), or 250ml ready-made fresh custard

200g creme fraiche

2 tbsp icing sugar (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3-4 and grease a 23cm round cake tin with sides at least 5cm deep (or two tins or similar size if you’re splitting like me). 

2. Put the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and whisk until pale and fluffy (this takes about 10 minutes or so with an electric hand whisk – the mixture will approx. triple in size whilst you’re whisking, so make sure your bowl is big enough!). The mixture should look mousse-like and when you remove the whisk, the trail of mixture it leaves on the surface should remain visible for about 4 seconds. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture a third at a time to the beaten eggs, gently folding through with a large metal spoon each time to distribute evenly whilst taking care not to knock out all the air.

3. Carefully pour the cake batter into the prepared tin(s) and tap the tin once or twice against the kitchen surface to pop any big bubbles in the mixture. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 mins (or 12-15 in two tins), or until golden and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5-10 mins in the tin, then remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

4. Hull and quarter most of the strawberries, leaving 5 good ones whole to garnish. Pour the elderflower cordial (I used about 100ml) over the quartered strawberries in a small bowl and leave to macerate for 15 mins or so before draining. Reserve the strawberry-elderflower cordial.

5. Cut your cake in half, or not if you baked it in two tins. Shortly before you want to serve the cake (ideally no more than an hour in advance or it will go soggy), spread a smooth, even layer of the vanilla custard over the cut surface of the bottom half of the cake. Carefully put a layer of drained strawberries on top and drizzle with a little of the elderflower cordial for extra flavour if you wish. Sandwich the upper half of the cake on top.

6. If you wish to sweeten the creme fraiche, whip it gently with the icing sugar. Spread the creme fraiche over the top of the cake and garnish with the reserved whole strawberries.

 

Custard:

4 medium egg yolks

40g cornflour

500ml whole milk

75g caster sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Put the egg yolks and cornflour in a bowl and whisk together so the cornflour is distributed evenly. In a saucepan bring the milk and sugar to a simmer and then remove from the heat. Pour a third of the hot sweetened milk on to the egg yolks and stir through to temper the yolks. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan, add the salt and bring to a gentle boil while stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and sieve if any lumps have appeared. Add the vanilla extract and stir through. Pour into a bowl and cover with cling film so that it sits directly on the surface of the custard to stop a skin developing. Allow to cool completely before refrigerating until needed.