It all started out with me being short on ingredients.

You see, I just wasn’t paying attention to what I had on hand. I decided to make a pound cake and just never noticed that I didn’t have enough granulated sugar. I already had a pound of butter whipping around in my stand mixer and didn’t want to see it go to waste so I made a quick improvisation by subbing brown sugar. And it wasn’t too bad. In the oven, the cake smelled  smooth and rich, like caramel and butter. And then, when I tasted it, it was just OK and that was kind of a letdown.

But let me tell you about this sauce! I make a trip to KC to hit up Trader Joe’s and IKEA last weekend. On a whim, I picked up some kumquats. Never had them before so it was an eye opener for me. With tart flesh and sweet skin, they start out with a pucker and then slowly mellow into something sweeter and pleasantly citrussy. While the cake was in the oven, I decided they needed to become a sauce. And what a sauce!

The cake wasn’t anything to write home about so I won’t waste your time by posting it… but the sauce is just too good not to share. It, too, was born of a mistake caused by just not thinking. There was a plumber working in the house at the time and the water was turned off. I had only about 1/4 cup of water in a bottle and I realized this only after I had the ‘quats sliced and in the saucepan with several other ingredients. I added a few glug-glugs of St. Germain elderflower liquor to round out the liquids. I could have, of course, just tossed a few ice cubes into the pan but that thought conveniently only came after I added the liquor. And, truth be told, I probably would have just gone ahead and used the liquor anyway.

The sauce is a bit reminiscent of a loose marmalade with the citrus peel and sweet jammy quality and, with the kumquat and addition of lime juice, you’ll get a nice tartness. The elderflower gives it a nice extra floral dimension. It would be lovely served over a better pound cake than what I produced. (In the pic below, I also included a dollop of heavy cream freshly whipped with some vanilla bean paste.) Vanilla ice cream would also be a good vehicle.

And so, I give you….

Brown Sugar Pound Cake with Vanilla Whipped Cream & Elderflower-Kumquat-Lime Sauce

Brown Sugar Pound Cake with Vanilla Whipped Cream and Elderflower, Kumquat Lime Sauce

Elderflower, Kumquat & Lime Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Sauces
Serves: about ¾ to 1 cup
  • a good-sized handful of kumquats
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup St. Germain elderflower liquor
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • pinch salt
  1. Clean and thinly slice the kumquats, picking out seeds as you come to them.
  2. Toss the sliced kumquats into a saucepan with all the other ingredients and stir until well combined.
  3. Heat the mixture to a boil and then reduce the temperature to a gentle simmer. Let the mixture cook until the kumquat slices are tender and the syrup has thickened, about 20 minutes. You'll want to check on it periodically, stirring occasionally.
  4. Let cool and then pour it all over whatever goodness you've chosen as a vehicle for the sauce.