THE DESIGN: Almond & elderflower sponge, layered with rose-scented raspberry compote and vanilla cream. Covered with a silky raspberry buttercream. Adorned with fresh mint and a profusion of English petals.
THE STORY: Step into the gentle space of an English garden in summertime. For hundreds of years, we’ve packed these sheltered havens with all manner of scented and edible produce, providing outdoor larders to medieval banquet halls and grand Victorian houses alike. It’s an ancient and exotic heritage that certainly deserves cake-shaped celebration.
In The Gentle Art of Cookery (1925), C.F. Leyel writes: ‘Nowadays we admire flowers so much for their beauty and fragrance that we forget their flavour [. . .] But originally our English gardens were herb gardens [and] our forefathers depended upon flowers for sweetness in a very literal sense.’
And it seems we still forget this history today.Violets, roses, elderflower, primroses and gillyflowers all featured highly in medieval courtly cooking, making their way into stews, herb salads and sweet pottages. By the 16th century, these flavours were such a part of our growing sweet tooth, that confectionary rooms became part of garden design, alongside the flowerbeds, orchards and vegetable plots.
A walk in these gardens would have been a melting pot of thrilling perfumes – fruity, floral, herbal and deliciously fragrant. Just like a bite of this cake.