Fiona Cairns’ Elderflower, Orange & Passion Fruit Layer Cake

This is so much more than a cake, but then one would expect nothing less from Royal Baker, Fiona Cairns!  It is perfect for summer entertaining with an afternoon tea or as a very special dessert.

This cake is very moist and keeps well if baked a day or two in advance. Simply whip up the icing and assemble just before serving.  In June when the elderflowers fill our hedgerows you could surround the cake with a lovely wreath of elderflower heads.

Serves 8 Prep time 45 mins Bake time 25-30 mins
Fiona Cairns’ Elderflower, Orange & Passion Fruit Layer Cake


For the cake

• 2 small sweet oranges (total weight around 300g)
• 3 tablespoons Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
• 300g caster sugar
• 4 large eggs
• 250g unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for the tins
• 150g plain flour
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp fine salt
• 150g ground almonds

For the syrup

• 3 tablespoons Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
• 1tbsp caster sugar

For the Elderflower Cream

• 1 x 250g tub mascarpone
• 1 x 200ml tub crème fraiche (not low fat)
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• 7-8 tablespoons Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
• 1 tbsp caster sugar
• 3-4 passion fruit
• A small selection fresh edible flowers (ensure dry and pesticide free) – Fiona Cairns used violas


• Place the whole, washed and unpeeled oranges in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring up to the boil and simmer gently for about 2 hours – until they are completely soft. You may need to occasionally top up the water level. Drain, cool & remove the stalks, cut in half and remove any seeds. In a food processor, blitz to a puree adding the elderflower cordial. A much quicker method is to prick the oranges all over with the point or a skewer and microwave for 8-10 minutes until completely soft.
• Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/375F/gas mark 5.
• Lightly butter 2 x 20cm round tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
• Melt the butter in a small pan (or in the microwave) and set aside to cool.
• Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, tip in the ground almonds and set aside.
• In an electric mixer using the whisk attachment, or a large bowl and electric whisk, beat the eggs and sugar until they become pale, fluffy and thickened (about 5 minutes).
• Using a large spoon or spatula, gently fold in the cooled melted butter, the flour mixture and the orange pulp.
• Divide between the 2 prepared tins and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean or it springs back to the touch.
• Meanwhile make the syrup by mixing the cordial and sugar together in a little bowl. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven prick all over with a cocktail stick and pour syrup evenly over the cakes. Leave to cool in their tins.
• When ready to assemble, simply split each cake in half horizontally (Fiona use a serrated knife). Soften the mascarpone in a bowl by mixing it and then stir in the crème fraiche. Gradually add the vanilla, elderflower cordial and caster sugar mixing all the time.
• Cut the passion fruit in half and scoop out the pulp into a small bowl.
• Place one of the 4 layers of cake onto a cake stand or serving plate.
• Spread with a quarter of the elderflower cream and a spoonful or so of the passion fruit. Top with the second layer of cake and repeat until you have 4 layers of cake – I keep the flat base of one of the cakes for the top (turned upside down). Spread the remaining cream and passion fruit over the top of the cake and decorate with edible flowers.
• The cake can be assembled and stored in the fridge for a few hours before serving if necessary.