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 and in this recipe below, you can substitute half the lemons for oranges in your cordial recipe for an orange twist!
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 and 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.
- 100ml double cream
- 160ml orange and elderflower cordial
- 250g mascarpone cheese
- 25g unrefined icing sugar
- 24 sponge fingers
- 2 oranges
- 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. Slice off the orange skins (this give them a better edge for the dessert) and 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. Remove any stray orange pieces from the cordial and 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.
I like cake. I like to make cakes with different wild ingredients in them, it's started to become natural to me. I've made my Nettle and Honey Cake many times, and recently discovered it goes really well with gorse flower syrup, the recipe for both is here; Spring recipe - Nettle and Honey Cake with Gorse Flower Syrup.
I've also made this Pear and Hogweed Cake a few times, though I think this might be my favourite version. It's vegan and gluten-free, uses brown sugar and is almost melt in the mouth. If you'd prefer the full of everything - butter, eggs and wheat flour - you can view it here; Hogweed shoots in a cake!
Pear and Hogweed Shoot Cake
75 ml sunflower oil
90 g unrefined sugar, plus 1 level tbsp
3 tbsp apple juice
4 tbsp aqua faba (chickpea water)
1 tsp dried hogweed seeds (optional)
30 g hogweed shoots (mainly shoots rather than leaves, finely chopped)
200-230 g pears
100 g gluten-free flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a 20 cm diameter cake tin. In a large bowl, beat the oil, apple juice and sugar together. In a food processor add the aqua faba (water left over from a can of chickpeas) and whisk for 5 minutes or until it makes soft peaks (like egg whites).
If using, use a spice grinder to blend the dried hogweed seeds with the tablespoon of sugar and sprinkle the mixture over the base of the cake tin. Slice the pears to about ½-1 cm in thickness and layer these across the base of the cake tin. Next sprinkle on the hogweed shoots. Blend the dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda) and add into the oil and sugar mix. Pour and smooth the cake mixture roughly over the pears and shoots and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when pierced into the centre of the cake. When cooked, turn out onto a wire rack, with the bottom-side facing upwards and leave to cool. Slice and enjoy warm or cold. Keeps well for a few days in the fridge.
Hogweed shoots (Heracleum sphondylium) are part of the Umbellifer/Umbellifrae/Apiaceae/Carrot family and needs to be identified correctly. Read more about hogweed here; Common Hogweed. This cake was made for a wild food foraging course, where I always make wild tasters to suit different diets as much as possible.