AROMATIC ELDERFLOWERJune 1st, 2020
The sweet, heady aroma of elderflower: it’s unmistakable and unavoidable in England at this time of year. From late May and early June, woodlands and hedgerows become laden with frothy white sprays, hanging temptingly over pathways and country lanes.
Seeped in mythology, the elder tree was once considered to have magical protective powers. Having one near your home may or may not ward off evil spirits, but you will benefit from its delicate white flowers, which speckle the tree before turning into purple elderberries in a few weeks’ time. Elderberries are also an ancient ‘cure all’ – a natural superfood full of vitamins.
Our chefs have been busily foraging in this short-lived window, making subtly perfumed syrups for use in our Bakery and Gelateria. We wanted to share their tips with you, along with a recipe by head chef Alan Stewart, so you can get cooking with this seasonal treat.
- Try to find a shrub away from traffic fumes
- Pick the flowers when the buds are newly open, when the weather is dry and warm
- Give the sprays a shake to remove any insects
- Rinse briefly in cold water before using
- Always cook the flowers before eating – they are mildly toxic when raw.
Elderflower Fritters with Rhubarb & Elderflower Compote & Yoghurt
Serves 4. Prep time 30mins.
“This dish can be eaten at any time of day but is especially good at brunch as an alternative to pancakes.” – Alan Stewart
For the fritters:
- 6tbsp plain flour
- 4tbsp corn flour
- 2tbsp baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- Sparkling water to mix
- 8 x elderflower sprays, stalks removed
For the compote:
- 400g chopped rhubarb
- 100g caster sugar
- Splash of fruit vinegar (eg. apple, raspberry or blackcurrant)
- 4 x elderflower sprays
A pot of creamy buffalo yoghurt made in our Creamery.
For the compote, place the rhubarb, sugar, vinegar, a splash of water and the elderflower heads in a pan. Cover and cook gently on a low heat for 10mins. When the rhubarb begins to break down, remove from the heat and leave to infuse.
Add 3cm oil to a pan and heat gently on the strove. Use a thermometer to check for 170°C or test a little batter to see if it’s ready.
For the batter, combine the dry ingredients. Stir in sparkling water with a fork, creating a batter that’s still a little lumpy in texture.
Remove the elderflower sprays from the compote. Stir to break the rhubarb down a little, tasting and adjusting sweetness with honey, and acidity with fresh lemon juice.
Dip your flower sprays in the batter, ensuring they are well coated. Shake off any excess. Carefully lower in the oil and fry gently until light golden brown; you may need to turn carefully with a slotted spoon. Remove and rest on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
To serve, spoon the yoghurt into four bowls. Add a large spoonful of compote to each, and top with the crispy elderflower fritters.