If Elder (Sambucus nigra) grows in your part of the world you may be seeing the frothy white flowers this week or even enjoying a whiff of the heady fragrance. For us the elderflowers are a little earlier than usual. Time to make cordial, perhaps some sorbet, and definitely pancakes. ‘Hollerkiachl’ as they are called in Bavaria. 😃
We are lucky and have several trees/shrubs directly on our doorstep and in our lane, away from traffic and foraging passers-by!
First I made the pancake batter. Here is my recipe for about 8 small pancakes:
200g (1 3/5 cups) flour
Pinch of baking powder
425 ml (1 4/5 cups) almond milk (unsweetened)
2 ‘veg eggs’ or 1 large tbsp soya flour mixed with a little water
Whisk all the ingredients together to make a smooth batter. Leave to stand while you cut your elderflowers.
The best time here to cut elderflowers is late morning on a still and sunny day. The aroma seems to be at its peak then. You will need about 8 -10 flowerheads, one for each pancake. (It depends on their size so cut a few extra if you aren‘t sure.) Shake off any flies and beetles. Bring them indoors and shake again over the sink, then place on a yellow surface. This attracts any remaining tiny flies to crawl out.
Heat a little sunflower oil in a pancake pan. Dip an elderflower head in the batter, holding it by the stalk, and drop it in the pan with an extra tablespoon or two of batter.
You can now cut off as much of the stalk as possible so you can turn the pancake once you see little bubbles forming. Fry until golden brown on both sides, and sprinkle with a little sugar. Continue until you have used up all the batter.
I am happy to be joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her lovely Monday meme today. My hellebores are looking so pretty and there were enough to pick for a vase, albeit with quite short stems. 😃
My title describes how I have been walking around the garden the last few days… I have even been able to clear a lot of winter debris so the spring bulbs can shine. Lots of green shoots showing! 😃
The pink vase seemed appropriate, as all but one of my hellebore flowers so far are a shade of pink. I really love the double one… ‘Double Ellen Pink’.
The mottled one is ‘Diva’, as is the white one… The white flowers fade to a lovely pinky mauve.
I added a couple of sprigs of Pussy Willow – last week‘s storm took down a whole tree full of buds along the route we walk our dog, and I took the opportunity to break off a few large twigs for a vase. I do hope the storm in the UK has not affected any of you too badly.
Wishing you all calm and mild weather this coming week!
With January almost over (yippee!), and the days becoming noticeably longer (another yippee!) I hope to have a flower or two to share very soon. But in the meantime I decided to make my Cardamom and Almond Cake again, so that I can share the recipe with you. I made it at New Year and it was so good, but not as cardamommy as I had hoped. So today I added an extra teaspoonful of this delicious spice and it was perfect!
It reminds me a little of the (non-vegan) Swedish Visiting Cake I made a few years ago, with a soft spongy texture, the contrasting crispy flaked almond topping, and of course the lovely aroma. And this one is of course vegan. 😃
So here is my recipe – my second for Veganuary 2020. Please let me know if you try it as it is my own creation!
Cardamom Almond Cake
Preheat your oven to 180° C (350°F) and grease and flour a 24 cm (9 inch) baking tin.
In a large bowl, sift together:
250g (2 cups) self-raising flour
50g (1/2 cup) ground almonds or almond flour
a pinch of baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsps cornflour
6 tsps ground cardamom spice
In a pan, melt:
60g (half stick) vegan butter
with 250g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
and then add 60 ml (4 tbsps) vegetable oil (eg rapeseed oil)
In a dish, mix:
450ml (2 cups) plain unsweetened soya yoghurt
a dash of lemon juice
2 tbsps soya milk
In addition you need about 25g (1oz) flaked almonds.
Now pour all the wet ingredients into the sieved flour mixture and gently fold in. You should not beat or mix, only fold. And watch the bubbles appear as the chemistry does its magic! Pour into your prepared tin immediately, scatter flaked almonds on top and place in your hot oven. Bake for about 35-40 minutes. I made half this recipe (8 slices) in an 18 cm (7 inch) tin today and it only needed about 35 minutes. Do check regularly though, as the almonds may start to burn if it is in too long.
The first flower I chose was my Aster pringlei ‘Pink Star’ – a tall and airy plant with lots of colour impact in the butterfly bed. The Verbena bonariensis next to it went perfectly. Then I added some Miscanthus and Pennisetum, a Cranberry Cosmos, some silvery Artemisia foliage and a couple of sprigs of pink Gaura.
A second posy of autumny colours was placed on the picnic table – we had a delicious barbecue dinner outside early evening, savouring every moment in the knowledge that it may be the last day warm enough to do that this year. The miniature beer glass contained a red zinnia, Tithonia, Chrysopsis, Borage, some yellow Achillea and my favourite Rudbeckia. 🙂 The first picture includes the papery remains of one of the small wasp nests we have had dotted all around the house, barn and garage – in autumn they just drop and are blown about in the wind before simply disintegrating. The wasps are peaceful and have not disturbed us at all, even when eating outside.
Despite the days getting noticeably shorter and the nights much cooler (just above freezing recently with a light frost last week) the garden still has much to offer. I wonder if you are also happy to see the heat of summer fading and the golden autumn days arriving – it is my favourite season and has got off to a good start with some light rain, although a good downpour would be more welcome!