EARLY SUMMER GOOSEBERRY, ELDERFLOWER & ALMOND SPONGE
MAKES A 20CM CAKE The sponge is quite a traditional one, spiked with almond, lemon and vanilla and then doused in elderflower and sandwiched with an easy gooseberry compote and a yoghurt icing. It is everything I love about summer cakes. It’s not very fancy but this is on purpose, as unless it’s a big occasion I like my cakes simple and natural, gently frosted, so that they tell the story of what’s in them rather than hiding the ingredients behind a thick layer of butter and sugar.
If you plan to eat this over a few days I suggest keeping the filling and sponge separate and icing each slice as you go, as the cake keeps better out of the fridge but the icing does need refrigerating. This cake can easily be made with frozen gooseberries if you want a hit of early summer at another time of year – who wouldn’t. 200g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing 100g golden caster sugar 100g light muscovado sugar 250g light spelt flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 100g ground almonds 150ml milk (I use whole or oat milk) 3 organic eggs the seeds from 1 vanilla pod the zest of 1 unwaxed lemon Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan. Grease a deep 20cm springform cake tin and line it with baking paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, or with an electric hand whisk, cream the soft butter and sugars together until almost white and fluffy. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and ground almonds to get rid of any lumps. Add half the dry mixture to the butter and mix well, add the milk, eggs, vanilla and lemon zest, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape around the bottom of the bowl and mix again. Pour the batter into the tin, using the back of a spoon or a spatula to level out the top, then bake for 1 hour, until the top of the cake springs back and is soft to the touch. Cool for 15 minutes in the tin,then move to a rack to cool completely. While the cake is in the oven, get on with the compote and icing. FOR THE GOOSEBERRY COMPOTE 300g gooseberries, topped and tailed 2 tablespoons elderflower and rose cordial (recipe follows)
or use a good-quality bought version 50g golden caster sugar To make the compote, place the gooseberries in a saucepan with the cordial and sugar. Place the saucepan over a medium heat, bring to a simmer and turn the heat down to low. Continue to cook gently for 20-30 minutes, until the gooseberries are completely soft, have burst to release their juices and have started to turn jammy. Leave to cool completely. FOR THE WHIPPED YOGHURT ICING 200g Greek yoghurt 50g golden icing sugar Stir together the yoghurt and icing sugar until you have a spoonable icing and store in the fridge until needed. TO FINISH fresh elderflowers (if you can get them) Once the cake has cooled completely, use a long serrated knife to slice it horizontally through the middle. I find the best way to do this is to gently skirt around the edge of the cake with your knife, cutting just 1cm into the cake exactly halfway down so that you have a line to follow, then go all the way through following the line you have cut – this will give you a more even result.
Lift the whole cake on to a serving plate, then carefully lift off the top layer – you can slide it on to a plate to do this if you feel happier – and spread the bottom with the yoghurt mixture and then the gooseberry compote. Cover with the top of the cake and sprinkle over some elderflowers to finish.