Yellow Sponge Cake with White Peach + Elderflower Syrup

The end of summer has come and gone. The river of traffic along the main road in our small shoreline town has slowed and quieted, summer cottages left vacant and still, ready for the winter. And, my eldest has begun her first year of high school. Only yesterday, she was bringing me flowers too tiny for any vase, perfect, miniscule bouquets floating in bottle caps, carrying her favorite plastic dinosaurs with her to go shopping at the supermarket, asking me to come back and sing her good night song.  Then I turned around, to find her grown into someone tall and confident, sensitive, and kind. I watch as she is whisked down the driveway to school, her pale, waving hand disappearing. Today, she makes me laugh so hard I cry, teaches me the French I had always wished I had learned, is for a moment some lovely young woman I don't recognize when I catch a quick glimpse of her across the aisles in a shop.

So, a cake to celebrate the new season, my favorite season, fragrant with the last of the abundance of white peaches we picked in the summer. The yellow sponge cake recipe is taken from John Barricelli's The Seasonal Baker, but I added a drizzle of peach and elderflower liqueur syrup to the layers.

Yellow Sponge Cake with White Peach & Elderflower Syrup

adapted from Lemon Daisy Cake in The Seasonal Baker

Yellow Sponge Cake

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
6 large eggs, at room temperature
6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

Set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat to 375°. Butter two 9 by 2-inch round cake pans and dust with flour. (I used baking spray and parchment rounds in three 7-inch round pans).

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and cornstarch. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, and vanilla on high speed until the mixture is thick and pale yellow, and holds a thick ribbon when the whisk is lifted from the bowl, about 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture, gradually adding 1/2 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Gradually and gently add the oil, drizzling it toward the side of the bowl, folding it in until it is blended completely, being careful not to deflate the eggs.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans.  Bake, rotating the pans about two thirds of the way through the baking time, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, or when the cake springs back when lightly touched.

White Peach & Elderflower Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
4 white peaches, peeled and chopped (frozen peaches also work well here)
2 tablespoons St. Germain elderflower liqueur

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, 1/8 cup water, and peaches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, allow mixture to simmer until peaches are very soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, strain into a jar, pressing gently on the solids. Stir in the elderflower liqueur. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Basic Vanilla Buttercream

adapted from Bouchon Bakery

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon egg whites
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons, 2 1/4 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
8 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, at room temperature

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Place 3/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan, add the water, and stir to moisten the sugar.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, simmer until the syrup reaches 230°.

Letting the syrup continue to cook, whip the egg whites in the mixer at medium speed, gradually add the 2 tablespoons plus 2 1/4 teaspoons sugar. Whip until the whites begin to form very soft peaks. If the whites are ready before the syrup reaches 248°, turn the mixer to the lowest setting just to keep them moving.

When the syrup reaches 248°, remove the pan from the heat. With the mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add the syrup to the whites, slowly pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk. Increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for 15 minutes, or until the bottom of the bowl is at room temperature, and the whites hold stiff peaks (if the mixture is warm, it will melt the butter).

Reduce the speed to medium, and add the butter, a few pieces at a time. If at any point the mixture looks broken or curdled, increase the speed to re-emulsify, then reduce speed to medium and continue adding the butter.

If the buttercream is too soft to hold its shape, chill in the refrigerator for a few hours, then beat again to reach the proper consistency for spreading.

Assembling the cake:

Split each cake into two rounds. Place one layer on a cardboard cake round the same diameter as your cake pans, with a dab of buttercream to secure it in place. Brush the cake round with some of the peach syrup, using a pastry brush (or sprinkle over the cake). Spread evenly with some of the buttercream using an offset spatula. Repeat with remaining layers (I used 5 of the six split layers, saving the last for another use). Cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream to seal in the crumbs, refrigerate 30 minutes, or until set. Spread the cake with the remaining buttercream.


  1. Wow your cake baking skills are incredible! This is definitely the best looking cake I have seen in a while.. totally obsessing over how soft, light and fluffy the cake looks inside. Wish I had a slice to devour now.

  2. Thanks so much, Thalia! :))

  3. That cake looks divine! I love that you used a flavored syrup plus the butter cream, it's making me look at my bottle of St Germaine a little differently! Gorgeous photographs!

  4. Thanks, Jessie! Would love to try to make elderflower cordial someday:)

  5. Wow, hands down this is the most wonderful cake I've ever seen! And the pictures look like some dreamy paintings, amazing

  6. Thank you so very much, Evi!! :)