Food & Drink

What Is Elderflower? How To Replicate The Flavor Of The Royal Wedding Cake

It's not a common ingredient in the U.S., but it's almost a staple in U.K. cuisine.
05/18/2018 05:45am ET

Ever since Kensington Palace announced that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding cake would be lemon elderflower, the internet has been abuzz with elderflower recipes to help you re-create the flavor at home.

But if you’re anything like most Americans, you’re wondering, What is elderflower? And where do I get it?

Commonly used in British drinks and desserts, elderflower is the white blossom of the elderberry tree. Before it’s turned into food, it looks like this:

Ralf Blechschmidt via Getty Images
A flowering elderberry tree.
alexandrumagurean via Getty Images
A closeup of the elderflowers.
Mantonature via Getty Images
The elderflowers develop into these deep purple elderberries.

Elderflowers are delicate in flavor, unlike other flowers like roses or lavender. They don’t quite pack as strong a punch, so even if you hate floral-flavored foods, you may not mind dishes made with elderflower.

The blossoms are used in a few different culinary preparations, perhaps the most common being booze.

They flavor St. Germain, a liqueur. As Drizly explains, every year about 40 to 50 workers gather in the French countryside to collect elderflower blossoms before macerating them with citrus fruits and sugar and then distilling the result. St. Germain is often used in Champagne cocktails, the perfect type of drink for easing your way into the flavor of elderflower.

Elderflower syrup ― also known as elderflower cordial ― is another ingredient that’s commonly used to add flavor to cocktails and desserts. It’s a simple syrup of water and sugar that’s infused with the flower. You can buy it already bottled, or if you’re lucky enough to live near elderflowers, you can make some yourself.

And obviously, as in the case of the royal wedding cake, elderflower finds its way into desserts ― especially cakes ― through this syrup. The Kitchn has a recipe for a lemon elderflower cake that drizzles elderflower syrup into the just-baked cake to infuse it with flavor and moisture.

There are some healthy uses for elderflower too. It is rich in bioflavonoids and has been used in traditional medicine for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been used to treat the cold and flu, pain and swelling, high blood sugar levels and ... constipation. How elegant.

Check out some of the best ways to taste elderflower with the recipes below.

1
Gin, Elderflower and Prosecco Cocktail
Garnish With Lemon
Get the Gin, Elderflower and Prosecco Cocktail recipe from Garnish With Lemon.
2
Elderflower Lemon Cake
Joe Lingeman/Kitchn
Get the Elderflower Lemon Cake recipe from The Kitchn.
3
Elderflower Gin and Tonic
Garnish With Lemon
Get the Elderflower Gin and Tonic recipe from Garnish With Lemon.
4
Strawberry Melon Elderflower Pimms Cup
Half Baked Harvest
Get the Strawberry Melon Elderflower Pimm's Cup recipe from Half Baked Harvest.
5
Homemade Elderflower Syrup
Love & Olive Oil
Get the Elderflower Syrup recipe from Love & Olive Oil.
6
Elderflower and Honey Glazed Donut Holes
Hummingbird High
Get the Elderflower and Honey Glazed Donut Holes recipe from Hummingbird High.
7
Vodka and Elderflower Lemonade
Garnish With Lemon
Get the Vodka and Elderflower Lemonade recipe from Garnish With Lemon.
8
St. Germain Pomegranate Spritzers
Minimalist Baker
Get the St. Germain Pomegranate Spritzers recipe from Minimalist Baker.
9
Elderflower Sangria Recipe
Garnish With Lemon
Get the Elderflower Sangria Recipe from Garnish With Lemon.
10
Lemon Elderflower Cake
Follow the Ruels
Get the Lemon Elderflower Cake recipe from Follow the Ruels.
11
Elderflower French 75
Garnish With Lemon
Get the Elderflower French 75 recipe from Garnish With Lemon.
12
Elderflower, Peach and Lavender Gin Sour
Cooks With Cocktails
Get the Elderflower, Peach and Lavender Gin Sour recipe from Cooks With Cocktails.
13
Elderflower Martini
Garnish With Lemon
Get the Elderflower Martini recipe from Garnish With Lemon.