Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide
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Using all parts of the sloes for this decadent, homemade chocolate cake

A decadent, sloe gin-soaked chocolate cake with sloes laced through the cake in three different ways. This recipe was requested on several of my foraging courses (I do go on about lots of my favourite wild recipes) so here it is!

You'll first need to make your sloe gin (recipe in my Wild Food Foraging book) and let it infuse for at least 3 months.

A slice a sloe gin-soaked chocolate cake

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Bottle of homemade sloe syrup

This thick syrup is reminiscent of tart plums, with a background of dry sloes and the strong flavour of dark sugar. It's gorgeous drizzled over porridge. Though I love it the most in my Sloe Treacle Tart recipe - where that dryness disappears completely!

Don’t forget to keep the leftover sloes aside though for Sloe Fruit and Nut Clusters - a delicious way to use these fruits (see below).

Sloe Syrup Recipe

Makes about 600 ml

Ingredients
  • 750 g sloes (picked after the first frost or frozen then defrosted)
  • 325 ml water
  • 600 g dark sugar

Put all the ingredients in a medium pan,. Bring to the boil, and lower the heat a little, until still bubbling but not a rolling boil. Leave the lid off and allow to cook for a further 45 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool slowly in the pan. Once cool, you’ll have a thick, sticky syrup. Strain through a colander or sieve, pressing the fruits slightly to extract the last of the syrup. Store in a sterilised bottle.

The remaining fruits can be de-stoned and kept for Sloe Fruit and Nut Clusters (creates about 200 g of sticky sloes or 300 g if you’re really thorough and have lots of time). 

Bottle of homemade sloe syrup

For more sloe recipes do browse my autumn blog. I'd also love you to join me on a foraging course where I can share so much more with you about the wonderful wild food surrounding us!

Pink and white spring blossoms for making syurps

It is possible to taste, drink in and immerse yourself in Spring in so many ways. This morning I was standing under my friend's flowering cherry tree, enjoying the floppy bunches of blossoms and their subtle scent.

This afternoon I'm making a Cherry blossom syrup and I'm sharing the recipe with you. Cherry trees typically flower for no more than 2 weeks, making it a special window to enjoy in Spring.

Flowering cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms have been used in Japanese cuisine for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The Japanese make a special occasion of appreciating the season of cherry blossoms with their Hanami festivals. Hanami translates as 'viewing flowers'.

Loving spring blossoms

Cherry blossoms are known as sakura in Japan, here I make a simple blossom syrup for drizzling over desserts. Earlier in the season I made a blackthorn flower syrup, and I was interested in finding out how differently they tasted from one another.

Both cherry and sloes (the fruits of the blackthorn) are members of the Prunus family. Here's the recipe.

Cherry Blossom Syrup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 30 g (1.5 compressed cups full) cherry blossoms
  • 60 ml (4 tbsp) boiling water - enough to cover the blossoms
  • 40 g soft brown sugar

Place the blossoms in a mug or heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and cover for 2-4 hours. Immediately the water hits the blossoms their almond scent is released. It smells sweeter than the blackthorn blossoms. Lets see!

Spring blossoms in a vase

Strain the liquid off the blossoms and place in a small pan with the sugar. Heat over a low heat and stir to dissolve the syrup then store in a sterilised bottle of jar or use immediately in the recipe below.

How does cherry blossom and blackthorn blossom compare in syrups?

Cherry blossoms offers a subtler flavour to blackthorn flowers, with less of a bitter aftertaste. This is also a good reason not to soak the blossoms too long - 4 hours is plenty.

Rice Pancakes with Cherry Blossom Syrup Recipe

The cherry blossom syrup compliments these Japanese-style pancakes perfectly. A simple rice pancake recipe which picks up the sweet, almond flavour of the syrup. These are light and make a delicate dessert.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 120 ml yoghurt
  • 350 ml water
  • 140 g rice flour
  • 1 tsp cherry blossom syrup, plus extra for drizzling over the pancakes.
  • Oil for frying

Whisk together the yoghurt and water, then stir in the rice flour and teaspoon of syrup. Combine well and set aside for a couple of hours or more. I use a small frying pan for this recipe, but you could use a full-sized frying pan and make larger pancakes.

Over a medium heat, add a teaspoon of oil until hot. Add a ladle of batter, just enough to make a thin pancake. Swirl the batter around the pan to make an even layer filling the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook the other side for 2 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Serve warm, drizzled with Cherry blossom syrup.

Rice pancake with cherry blossom syrup

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