Posted 2nd Jun 2017
The gentle hum of bees can be heard in the English hedgerows from late May, as they burst into flower with the lace-like elderflower blossoms which offer a beautifully fragrant, pollen laden sanctuary for the humble bumble
For centuries, the elderflower's arrival has represented the start of summer, with the ancient hedgerow plant rich in mystery and interwoven with the magic of fairies and folklore.
However, it's less of a mystery as to what the secret ingredient is which is used in Belvoid Fruit Farms. Each year, the artisanal Cordial and Pressé maker welcomes the arrival of the creamy saucer sized blossoms, which, with the help of the local community, will harvest more thnan 50 tonnes which will then be transformed into the award winning, original and 100 per cent natural Elderflower Cordial. The harvest is undoubtedly hard work but it's also a definite time of celebration. This year, Belvoir has enlisted the help of chef and food writer Lisa Faulkner to celebrate the harvest in style, with a cake and a cordial.
The winner of Celebrity MasterChef in 2010 and author of four recipe books, Lisa commented: "Everyone loves a cake and I think it's important to always find a reason to celebrate even if it's just to toast life and spending time with your friends and family. I've developed these recipes using Belvoir's delicious Elderflower Cordial to add a wonderfully subtle floral fragrance and natural sweetness. For me, it's the taste of summer all year round."
Elderflower, Lemon & Poppy Seed Layered Cake
This cake is so pretty it could be used for those most bona fide reasons to celebrate - a birthday or even a wedding. To make the celebration complete, try adding a dash of Belvoir Elderflower Cordial to a glass of fizz or just enjoy a refreshing glass of lightly sparkling Belvoir Elderflower Pressé.
For the cake
10 medium free range eggs
Unsalted butter, softened
Finely grated zest 3 lemons
50g poppy seeds
3 tbsp Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
For the icing
500g unsalted butter, softened
1kg icing sugar, sifted
3tbsp Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
1 tbsp hot water (I use just boiled water from the kettle)
handful of rose petals
1 egg white, lightly beaten
4 dowel rods
1 x 16cm thin cake board
1 Preheat the oven to 180c/Fan 160c/ Gas Mark 4.
2 Grease and line 1 x 16cm deep cake tin and 1x 23cm deep cake tin. Weigh the eggs in their shells then measure out the same weight of butter, caster sugar and self-raising flour (roughly 600g of each ingredient).
3 Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with a hand whisk until really light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in a jug, and gradually add them to the butter, as you whisk, adding a spoonful of flour to stop it curdling.
4 Add the rest of the flour then stir in the lemon zest, poppy seeds and cordial. Spoon 1/3 of the cake mixture into the smaller tin then spoon the remaining 2/3 into the large tin. Smooth out and bake in the middle of the oven for 60-85 minutes (the small cake will be ready after about 1 hour) until risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
5 Leave to cool in the tins for 10 mins then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
6 To crystallise the rose petals, brush each petal with beaten egg white and pop into a bowl of caster sugar, turning until coated. Shake off any excess and leave to dry on a wire rack. The crystallised petals will keep for 24 hours in a dry cool place, they can be left on the decorated cake for up to 8 hours.
7 Beat the butter until really light then gradually add the icing sugar until you have a stiff butter icing. Add the cordial and 2-3 tbsp of boiling water and beat until light, fluffy and smooth. Use a serrated knife to split each cake in half horizontally. Spread a 1cm thick layer of buttercream inside the cakes and sandwich them back
8 Place the large cake on a cake stand and use a palette knife to spread an even 1cm thick layer of icing over the sides and top of the cake, smoothing it as you go. Place the smaller cake on the thin cake board and cover the top and sides with buttercream in the same way. Push the 4 dowel rods into the cake, in a square in the middle.
9 Mark on them the top of the cake line with a pencil. Remove the rods and cut to length then push back into the cake. Sit the little cake on top of the big cake, with a little blob of icing to secure it.
10 With a palette knife use a little more icing to smooth over the seam between the two cakes. The cake is now ready and can be stored in a cool place (but not the fridge) for 24 hours. When ready to serve, scatter over the crystallised rose petals.
Madeleine Hot Air Balloons
To celebrate the launch this summer of their very own hot air balloon, Belvoir asked Lisa to make these rather fetching balloon influenced Madeleines. Delicious with a silky-smooth flavour, the pleasure is intensified by a glass of fragrant Belvoir Elderflower & Rose Cordial.
For the Madeleines
70g melted unsalted butter (plus 20g extra melted for greasing)
100g caster sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten
125g plain flour + a little extra for dusting
1tsp baking powder
2tbsp Belvoir Elderflower & Rose Cordial
For the icing
150g icing sugar
1 tbsp Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
A squeeze of lemon juice
Paper piping bags
12 flapjack squares for 'the baskets'
1 Whisk the eggs and sugar until they are light and fluffy, (the whisk should leave a ribbon trail on the surface of the mixture when you lift it up). It needs to almost double in volume - which will take about 6 minutes in a stand mixer.
2 Lightly fold in all the other ingredients. Leave to stand for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, brush the madeleine tray with melted butter, leave to set, then dust with a little flour, knocking out any excess.
3 Preheat the oven to 200c/Fan 180c/Gas Mark 6.
4 Gently spoon the madeleine batter into the moulds and bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden. Allow to cook in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Mix the icing sugar with the cordial and lemon juice until you have a smooth pipeable icing. Divide into 4 and make them different colours with food colouring. Spoon into small piping bags and cut off the tips so they pipe nice and thin.
5 Pipe the icing over the madeleines to create patterns.
6 Use a couple of cocktail sticks inserted into the base of each balloon and skewer into flapjack squares to make them into hot air balloons.
Elderflower Bakewell Mug Cakes
Pure heaven in a mug! And just perfect with a glass of Belvoir's Raspberry and Lemon Cordial to complement the rich raspberry jam. What a way to celebrate simply taking a break!
You will need
75g unsalted butter, melted
2 medium eggs
50g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
75g self-raising flour
3 tbsp Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
6 tbsp raspberry jam
15g toasted flaked almonds
Icing sugar, to dust
Fresh raspberries to serve
1 Beat the melted butter with the eggs and sugar. Fold in the ground almonds, flour and 2tbsp of the cordial.
2 Mix the jam with the last tbsp of cordial and spoon into the bottom of 4 x 300ml microwave-proof mugs, then divide half the cake mixture between them. Add another half tablespoon of jam to each, then top with the rest of the cake mixture.
3 Scatter over the flaked almonds.
4 Put 2 mugs in the microwave and cook on full power (800 watts) for 3 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Repeat to cook the other 2 cakes.
5 Leave to stand; cool for 5-10 minutes, dust with icing sugar and serve with fresh raspberries and cream if you're feeling indulgent.
John Steinbeck once wrote: "In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explodes and every sunset is different." We say: "When the humble elderflower explodes it's time to celebrate the arrival of summer with a cake and Belvoir Cordial." Go on - there's no excuse not to!
Recipes courtesy of www.belvoirfruitfarms.co.uk