Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide
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Homemade fruit bread with foraged elderflowers from a wild food foraging course

Got too much elderflower cordial and don't know what to do with it all? Sick of drinking elderflower cordial and making it into cocktails? This recipe for Apricot and Elderflower sweet bread was created out of just one of those moments.

Not wanting to make it too sweet I used a wholemeal brown flour and the result is reminiscent of malt loaf, or some say walnut and date bread, but a little more wholesome and wild!

I've shared this bread (made it into sandwiches with my pear and elderflower jam) for wild food foraging course participants and bespoke foraging experiences and it has gone down a treat. So here's the recipe.

Homemade apricot and elderflower bread  by forager Rachel Lambert

Elderflower and Apricot Sweet Bread recipe

I love the tangy, depth of black, un-sulphured apricots and this recipe transforms them into dark, sticky treats in this fruit bread. Great served with butter and an unusual way to enjoy elderflower cordial.

Makes one loaf

Ingredients

  • 500 g wholemeal flour
  • 125 g un-sulphured apricots, chopped
  • 1 tsp quick yeast
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 300 ml warm water
  • 100 ml elderflower cordial

1 tbsp olive oil Pre-heat the oven to 400°F/200°C/fan 180°C. Add the flour, salt and quick yeast into a large mixing bowl and stir. Add in the apricots and raisins, and slowly add the warm water and elderflower cordial to the flour mix, adding the oil in too. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, cover with a clean cloth and leave for an hour, or until the dough has almost doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, grease a baking tray or loaf tin; punch the dough back so it flattens and place in an oiled bread tin or tray. Allow to rise again until almost twice the size, before baking in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until dark brown on top, and hollow sounding when tapped. Tip out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool.

Homemade and foraged elderflower and apricot bread on a wild food foraging course
Scoop of creamy homemade ice ceram with foraged elderflowers

It was salty lips and a refreshing, post swim sup of elderflower cordial that moved me to create this. Even as I write, in my mind’s eye I can still see the coastal horizon and taste the combination of sweet elderflower and salt. The ice cream is rather good too, and perfect if you crave the sea but live inland.

Summer foraging course picking elderflowers with Rachel Lambert

Since writing this, I also discovered a lovely gin and elderflower ice cream that I enjoyed courtesy of Bruichladdich distillery. It was divine! I may not have managed to recreate that one, but this recipe is equally enjoyable, even without the alcohol!

Elderflower gin ice cream - a forager's delight!

Elderflower and Sea Salt Ice Cream recipe

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • 185 ml elderflower cordial
  • 35 g (2 tbsp) unrefined sugar
  • 500 ml lightly whipped cream (approx. 425 ml double cream, before whipped)
  • ½ - ¾ tsp rock salt, lightly crushed

In a medium to large bowl whisk the egg yolks until light and fluffy. In a small heavy bottomed saucepan add the cordial (less the 2 teaspoons) and the sugar and stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil and using a sugar thermometer allow to reach 110°C or until a metal spoon dipped in the syrup forms thin threads from the last drops. Slowly pour the syrup into the eggs and whisk constantly, add the rest of the cordial and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and resembles a mousse.

Making homemade ice cream with foraged elderflowers from a wild food course

Spoon into a one litre Tupperware or tin, cover and freeze for one hour. If you haven’t already, roughly crush the salt in a pestle and mortar – you want small pieces of rock salt, but not dust. After an hour take the semi-frozen ice cream out of the freezer, thoroughly stir in the salt and freeze until ready to use. Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving, lovely with summer fruits.

Homemade jam tart recipe with foraged elderflower jam

This wild elderflower recipe was a joy to discover! If you haven't tried an elderflower jam, I highly recommend it! These jam tarts were inspired by Hallongrottor - Swedish jam tarts and I based this recipe on one by Vintagekitchennotes.

Traditionally these deep tarts are filled with raspberry jam - afterall, wild raspberries are abundant in Sweden! Though here in Britain I'm surrounded by flowering elder trees, so creating this recipe felt appropriate!

Crumbly, homemade elderflower jam tarts

A couple of years ago I started experimenting with flavouring jam with elderflowers. I've created a delicious local strawberry and elderflower jam, and this year a pear and elderflower jam. Pears aren't a dominant flavour like strawberries, so they match perfectly with elderflower.

Elderflower is full of health benefits and is a wonderful flavour of summer, this recipe uses elderflower cordial too.

Homemade elderflower jam tart from a foraging course in Cornwall

Elderflower Jam Tart (Scandi-style) recipe

Making jam tarts was a childhood treat when I was growing up. Often made on a rainy day, when we didn't know what to do and using whatever jam we could get our hands on! In comparison, these are special and thoughtful - filled with wild, homemade elderflower jam, a thick, crumbly pastry and topped with slices of almonds. I love them!

Makes 10 tarts

Ingredients

  • 125 g butter, room temperature
  • 35 g (3 heaped tbsp) golden granulated sugar
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 40 g corn flour
  • 10 dessertspoons elderflower and pear jam
  • Small handful of whole almonds (or less of flaked almonds)

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together, either by hand or in a food processor. Sieve in the flour and baking powder and combine. Add in the corn flour to create a soft dough. Don't over mix, just enough to combine everything.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC/fan 160ºC. Grease ten holes in a muffin tin with a little butter. Break off walnut-sized pieces of dough and press into each greased hole.

Fill each hole with the jam. Slice the almonds and sprinkle on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden (mine took a little longer. Leave to cool and firm up in the tin before removing. Enjoy with a glass of elderflower cordial indoors on a rainy day, or outdoors in the sun!

Homemade jam tart recipe with foraged elderflower jam
Picking elderflowers on a wild food foraging course

The light flavour of pears matches the summer scent of elderflowers perfectly in this delicious elderflower and pear jam! I've made it in jam sandwiches for participants on my summer foraging courses and bespoke forays. I also love it in my double elderflower doughnuts.

So let me get straight to the point and share this recipe with you.

Oh, though don't forget I have a whole Elder section on my blog with lots of recipes for elderflowers and elderberries!

Spoon of foraged elderflower jam

Elderflower and Pear Jam recipe

If you already have elderflower cordial, you can make this jam anytime of year. It goes perfectly with cheese and crackers. Though to be honest, I solely made it as a filling for my elderflower doughnuts. There I feel it has found its perfect home, or hole.

Picking elderflowers on a wild food foraging course

HOT TIP: Remember to pick your elderflowers on a warm, dry day and remember elder is a tree and not a plant. Why not come on a wild food foraging course and learn more about how to identify and use wild foods

Makes one 350-430 g jar

Ingredients

  • 300 g peeled pears, stalk and pips removed
  • 90 ml (6 tbsp) elderflower cordial
  • 225 g golden granulated sugar

Chop and blend the pears with the elderflower cordial then place the blended, syrupy fruits in a small saucepan with the sugar. Simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar. Using a jam thermometer turn the heat up to medium/high until the jam reaches 105°C or thickens to jam consistency. Be careful not to burn the bottom. Pour into a large sterilised jar and allow to cool before sealing.

Delicious in Elderflower doughnuts or on toast.

Homemade strawberry jam with elderflowers

The taste of summer (elderflowers) and their medicinal, anti-viral qualities can be enjoyed in many desserts, drinks and snacks. Here I share my Elderflower and Strawberry Jam recipe, which is delicious on toast and a divine filling for my moreish Elderflower Doughnuts.

This is an easy recipe for making strawberry jam from fresh strawberries. I also share how to make jam set, how to use this jam and why strawberries and elderflowers are good for you.

Fresh Cornish strawberries with elderflowers

Fresh, healthy strawberries

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and K and also contain a good amount of fibre, folic acid, manganese and potassium. It's healthy to include a variety of fruit and vegetables in your diet.

Seasonal, local strawberries are the best and, luckily, they often ripen at a similar time to elderflowers, making them perfect companions.

Summer elderflowers and strawberry jam

Elderflowers

Elderflowers are my seasonal wild food of the month! A wonderful anti-viral with a gorgeous scent, they can help treat colds, flu, coughs and bronchial infections.

Homemade jam with fresh strawberries

My Elderflower and Strawberry Jam Recipe

I'm often inspired by the seasons, the wild foods surrounding me - their taste, smell and texture and fellow cooks that I admire. Darina Allen is one such cook, her traditional family recipes are some of my 'go-to' ones, and this recipe was inspired by her Mummy's Strawberry Jam recipe.

I've added a wild twist, of course.

Makes 1.3 kg jam (approx)

Ingredients

  • 1 kg fresh strawberries
  • 800 g golden granulated sugar
  • 5-8 elderflower heads (flowers forked off and stems discarded)
  • 50 ml elderflower cordial (or lemon juice)

Take off the green tops of the strawberries and rinse if needed, you then need to make sure they're are really dry. You can gently pat them dry with a tea towel. Once dry, place in a stainless steel saucepan - it will be easier if you use one that's bigger than the one I used above!

Sprinkle in the elderflowers (removed from the stems) and the elderflower cordial or lemon juice, next you'll be adding the sugar. According to Darina Allen, the best way to make jam from fresh strawberries is to heat the sugar first. This isn't essential but might make a better jam!

To heat the sugar, place it in a stainless steel bowl in a preheated oven to 180/160C fan/350F/Gas 4. Heat for 15 minutes then pour evening over the strawberries and elderflowers. Alternatively, pour over the sugar cold. Cover and leave for 12-24 hours. Overnight should be suffice, but I left mine for 24 hours and all the strawberry juices had really started to come out - yum!

Infused strawberries, sugar and elderflowers

It may sound like a lot of sugar, but this will help preserve the strawberries and at least it is unrefined rather than white caster sugar!

The combination of fruit, sugar, heat and lemon juice will ensure that your jam sets. The citrus juice in the elderflower cordial is also enough to set the jam - and it's my preference to use the cordial.

Next bring the pan to the boil, stirring to help dissolve the sugar. Mash the fruits with a potato masher, or a blender stick. I used a blender stick as I wanted a smooth jam I could use in elderflower doughnuts, but you might want a more rustic one for sandwiching together cakes, mixing in rice pudding, spreading on scones or smothering over toast.

Leave the jam to boil for about half an hour. You can use a jam thermometer if you prefer or test the jam by taking a teaspoon of the jam and placing on a cold saucepan. Move the jam around, if it starts to wrinkle at the edges as it cools, then it is ready.

Decant into sterilised jars and leave to cool.

Bowl of strawberry and elderflower jam

Elderflowers are one of the plants I cover on some my summer foraging courses. I teach foraging throughout the year - helping you connect to the abundance of health-giving foods available on your doorstep.

Elderflower fritters

Elder Flower-Head Fritters are a classic wild food recipe for these edible wild flowers. The combination of batter and a hint of elderflower is utterly delicious.

What's more, you can turn them savoury or sweet and here's my winning versions with an extra light batter recipe, plus suggestions for turning them into a starter, main accompaniment or dessert.

Man holding an elderflower head

These are quick and easy and can be turned savoury or sweet. I love them dipped in soy sauce and lemon for a tangy, savoury snack. Hmmm, but they're equally nice served with ice cream or dusted with a light coating of icing sugar.

*TOP TIPS: For a light batter use half plain flour and half corn flour

Elderflower Fritter Recipe

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
  • 200 ml ice-cold water
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 100 g sifted plain wheat or buckwheat flour (or half flour and half corn flour)*
  • 2–3 ice cubes
  • Sunflower oil, for frying
  • 16 elderflower heads flower heads, stalks intact

Cover a couple of large plates with kitchen paper (if you have). Pour the ice-cold water into a mixing bowl, mix in the egg, add the flour and roughly fold it in with a fork. Do not beat it – the batter should be lumpy. Add the ice cubes.

Heat at least 2.5 cm oil in a wok or a frying pan (I like to shallow fry rather than deep fry and use a small pan to do this). The oil is hot enough when a drop of batter bubbles and turns golden in 5–10 seconds.

Hold a flower head by the stalk, wipe it through the batter to coat it all over, allowing any excess batter to drip off. Keep hold of the stem while dropping the coated flower head into the oil. Using the stalk, turn it if necessary and cook until golden and crisp, then remove and place on the kitchen paper. Repeat with all the flower heads. To serve, either snip off the main stems or eat the flower heads and discard the stems as you eat them.

How to serve these elderflower fritters?

Savoury: As a starter or serve alongside risotto or fish with a blend of soy sauce and lemon (half and half)

Dessert: Dust with icing sugar and serve with a squeeze of lemon, or have with ice cream.

For more recipes and information about elderflowers search my summer blog and find;

  • When NOT to pick elderflowers
  • How to make Elderflower cordial and sorbet
  • Quick elderflower layered sponge
  • How to dry elderflowers
  • How to freeze elderflowers
  • Picking the last of the elderflowers
  • Elderflower and strawberry jam
  • Moreish Elderflower doughnut recipe
  • and more....
Afternoon tea with foraged Elderflower doughnuts in Cornwall

For me, Summer is about outdoor adventures, picnics, barbecues, fayres, festivals and the beach. Elderflowers are the perfect accompaniment, unless it's a festival or fayre - then it's doughnuts!

Here I share my ultimate elderflower doughnut recipe - they're gorgeous!

Yes, doughnuts are fayre food for me, when I’m tired and hungry from dancing it’s the smell of doughnuts that I sniff the air for. Created following a mini disaster – my Cornish town’s annual fayre and no doughnut van in sight – they are a delightful summery twist on the hot sugary ones I yearned for. Complete with a gorgeous soft, jam centre and sweet elderflower coating, these are melt-in-the-mouth with a double dose of elderflower to keep spirits high. 

For this recipe you'll need to first make elderflower cordial - here's my simple elderflower coridal recipe, plus lots of information about where to find elderflowers, when to pick them, what the benefits of elderflowers are. You can also find tips on when to avoid elderflowers.

Elderflower, lemon and orange cordial

Elderflower Doughnut Recipe

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp unrefined caster sugar
  • 135 ml milk                                                   
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • 275 g plain flour (replacing 25 g with wholemeal flour if you wish)
  • 200-300 ml vegetable oil, for frying
  • 150 g strawberry and elderflower jam or elderflower and pear jam.

Iced coating

Warm the milk in a small pan, take 2 tablespoons of the warm milk and mix with the yeast and a pinch of sugar and leave until it gets frothy. Meanwhile, cube the butter and gently plop into the milk, mixing until the butter dissolves. In a large bowl, sieve the flour and add the rest of the sugar, make a well in the middle and add the frothy yeast, buttery milk and the egg. Mix then knead and stretch for 5 minutes, cover and leave in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.

Afternoon tea with foraged Elderflower doughnuts in Cornwall

Dust a large baking tray with flour and knead the dough for 5 minutes, break the dough into 12 pieces, rolling each piece into a ball and place on the baking tray. Cover and leave to rise for half an hour or until doubled in size. Prepare a couple of dinner plates with kitchen paper and heat the oil in a deep pan to 190°C or until a small piece of dough dropped in the oil sizzles and floats to the surface. Using a slotted spoon, drop 2-4 dough balls into the oil and fry until golden brown, turn over and brown on the other side. Remove and place on the kitchen paper, repeat with the remaining dough balls. Using a filling nozzle, flavour injector or a teaspoon, make a small slot in the side of each doughnut and fill with jam. To finish off, in a small bowl mix the icing sugar with the elderflower cordial and dunk the top of each doughnut in the icing. Eat warm or cold.

Elder tree in flower

It's Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) season, and the time for celebrations and desserts! I share more on Elderflowers, including how and when to pick the best Elderflowers and a recipe for Elderflower cordial and sorbet in my blog.

Elderflower cordial is a great way to capture the aroma of summer.  This recipe can be made using oranges or strawberries, or let me know if you use a different fruit and it works!

Orange and Elderflower Layered Sponge

I fall into nostalgic heaven with this sweet (though not overly), quick and easy mouthful of a dessert, complete with a beautiful hint of summery elderflower. I first made it for a friend’s birthday, and it was the perfect solution to an impromptu gathering; something sweet and celebratory between a sea swim and raucous meal out. Of course you could make your own healthier sponge, though this is the quick version.

Ingredients

  • 100ml double cream
  • 160ml elderflower cordial
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 25g unrefined icing sugar
  • 24 sponge fingers
  • 2 oranges or a handful of strawberries
  • 1 tbsp unrefined icing sugar (optional)

Whip the cream into soft peaks and put aside. In a small pan, heat 100ml of cordial and quickly dip half the sponge fingers in the syrup then lay them on the bottom of a square serving dish, flat plate or clean chopping board.

In a medium bowl, blend the mascarpone, 2 tablespoons of cordial and the 25g of icing sugar, then fold in the whipped double cream. Spread a layer of the mascarpone and cream mixture across the soaked sponge fingers. Finely slice the fruits, removing any pips and pith you come across. Tip half the slices into the remaining cordial, and lift out, one by one, placing a layer across the cream mixture.

Quickly dip the rest of the sponge fingers and layer onto the orange slices, followed by the rest of the cream mixture. Lastly, dip the remaining orange slices and place on the top, drizzling any last drops of cordial over them and place in the fridge to chill for two hours. Remove from the fridge, dust with icing sugar, if using, cut into squares and serve immediately.

Not much time left and many are just out of reach! Remember to take a ladder foraging with you or a good friend with climbing skills...

Last Resort - I've had to resort to just picking one or two heads this time of year, and drying them for elderflower tea. You may have more luck! Though drying Elder flowers for tea is great medicine for the winter months, read below to find out more.

Elderflower syrups and dishes are potent medicine - they can help counter hayfever, fight colds, boost your immune and send you to a delightful floaty place with those sweet aromas...

Choose from fresh or dried elderflower tea (just add hot water), elderflower fritters, or cordial for sorbets and ice creams, mix with summer fruits or into cocktails. Here's a simple recipe for cordial and a tempting image of local fruits cooked with elderflowers - delicious!

(photo: Elder flowers and Yarrow)

 

Elderflower Cordial

This is classic recipe with a bit of a twist, I like to change things sometimes, so here I use a mixture of orange and lemons, and add a little honey too. If you want a more traditional recipe, here it is; Elder Flower Cordial and Elder Flower Sorbet Recipe.

This cordial is a wonderful refreshing summer drink, and elder flowers are also a great remedy for colds. You'll need some pre-planning - a 1 litre container, clean screw-top bottles, a funnel and a seive/muslin cloth is needed, or improvise with what you have. Adjust the amount according to the number of flowers you have picked.

Ingredients

  • 450g unrefined caster sugar
  • 1.5 litres boiling water
  • 20 elderflower heads (flowers left on stalks)
  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 1 orange
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2-3oz citric acid (if you’re going to store the cordial for a whole

Ideally pick the flowers in full sun. Place sugar in a pan and pour boiling water over, stirring until dissolved. Place the elderflowers (check to remove bugs) in a clean bucket and pour hot sugar mixture over it. Grate the lemon and orange zest, then cut the fruits into slices, squeeze, and plop into the container (it could be a saucepan, or a large heat-proof bowl). Stir, in the honey until dissolved, cover, and leave for 24-48 hours, stirring occasionally. Strain the mixture through a sieve, or preferably a fine muslin cloth, and funnel into clean bottles, or dilute and serve immediately!

(Photo: Elderflowers cooked in a summer fruits pudding)

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