Cook with Jamie Oliver: Capture the essence of British summer in your cakes and puds by lacing them with the delicate scent of elderflower

Cook with Jamie: Capture the essence of British summer in your cakes and puds by lacing them with the delicate scent of elderflower



21:30 GMT, 8 June 2012

Summer flavour: You can't beat a dash of elderflower, says Jamie

Summer flavour: You can't beat a dash of elderflower, says Jamie

Over the next few weeks, you’re going to see pretty little elderflowers popping up on elder trees all over the country. For those of you who’ve never tried elderflower, now’s the perfect time to embrace it. Believe me when I tell you, you just can’t beat a dash of elderflower cordial in a cool summer drink or summer pudding, drizzled over fruit, or even used to glaze grilled or roasted meats at the last minute.

Elderflower really is one of nature’s joys, and when that beautiful flavour hits your mouth it will really tickle you with fresh, acidic, perfumed sweetness. It’s definitely one of my favourites.

Feel free to go out and pick up some cordial from one of the wonderful brands out there, all raring to go – you can get some really good ones these days.

Or, if you’re feeling a bit Huckleberry Finn and fancy a bit of foraging, pick the flowers yourself and have a go at making your own.

Simply bring 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) sugar and 1.5 litres (2pts) of water to the boil in a large pan, then simmer until the syrup is clear. Take the pan off the heat, squeeze in the juice of 2 to 3 lemons and 1 orange, then take 20 to 30 heads of lightly washed elderberry blossom and plunge them into the syrup.

Let it cool, then loosely cover and leave for 24 hours – that’s when all the magic happens. The next day, strain it, pour into sterilised bottles and there you have it. Simply heaven.

This column is dedicated to using up that beautiful thing while it’s in abundance. So give these gorgeously indulgent sweet treats a go, and enjoy.


Bottled elderflower cordial makes for a beautiful summer present. Tie a lovely bit of string round it, add a handwritten luggage tag and you’re away.Sorbets are fantastic because you can play around with the flavours – try swapping the strawberries in my Strawberry & Elderflower Ice with other seasonal berries like fresh raspberries, or frozen mixed berries will work a treat too.Jazz up your summer drinks by making ice cubes with equal measures of cordial and water. Whether you use them in a jug of water with mint and lime or in a gin and tonic, they’re guaranteed to taste delicious.


Serves 10-12

Summer pudding

400g (14oz) raspberries450g (1lb) blackcurrants or gooseberries3tbsp elderflower cordial50g (1oz) sugar (optional, to taste)8 slices of white bread, sliced to about the thickness of a finger


200ml (7fl oz) whipping cream2 elderflower heads or 2tbsp elderflower cordial


100g (3oz) blackcurrants100g (3oz) sugar

Place the fruit in a saucepan, pulling the blackcurrants off their stems and looking out for any unripe or past-their-prime berries.

Add the elderflower cordial and heat gently for a couple of minutes, or until the blackcurrants begin to burst. Taste the fruit and add a little sugar if needed. You want the pudding to have a tartness, so don’t go overboard with the sugar.

Line a 1.2ltr (2pt) pudding basin with clingfilm. Trim the crusts off the bread. Leave 2 pieces whole, then cut the rest into ‘soldiers’ about 2.5cm (1in) wide. Cut a round of bread from one of the remaining slices to fit snugly in the bottom of your pudding basin. Line up the soldiers around the sides of the basin, making sure they touch the bottom circle of bread. Fill up any gaps with off-cuts of bread, pushing them together so none of the fruit can escape. Pour in the fruit mixture. Cut a circle from the remaining piece of bread for the top, and fill the gaps with leftover bits of bread.

Put your pudding basin on a plate and put a snug-fitting saucer on top. Place a weight, such as a tin of beans, on top of the saucer and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 6 hours. To make the elderflower cream, whip the cream with the flower heads or cordial until it forms soft peaks. To make the syrup, place the berries and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat and boil for about 5 minutes, or until the berries have burst and you have a rich syrup, then strain. Turn the pudding out onto a serving plate and pour the syrup over. Serve with the elderflower cream.

Elderflower ice cream


Makes 1.8ltr (3pt)

1 lemon, roughly chopped, pips removed

200g (7oz) sugar

1kg (2lb 4oz) strawberries, hulled

300ml (10oz) elderflower cordial

Blitz the lemon and sugar to a fine pulp in a food processor, then transfer to a bowl.

Whizz the strawberries to a pure, then add to the lemon mixture with the cordial.

Pour into an ice cream machine and churn according to instructions, then transfer to a suitable dish and freeze.

Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving.


Serves 12-14

Elderflower cake
250g (9oz) unsalted butter 250g (9oz) sugar 150g (5oz) pistachios, roughly chopped, plus extra to decorate 100g (3oz) ground almonds 200g (7oz) polenta 1tsp baking powder 2tbsp Greek-style yoghurt 3 large free-range eggs Zest and juice of 1 lemon


100ml (3fl oz) elderflower cordial 1-2tbsp runny honey Lemon juice, to taste


200g (7oz) Greek-style yoghurt 3tbsp icing sugar 2tbsp elderflower syrup

Preheat oven to 180C/gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm (8in) springform cake tin. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the pistachios, almonds, polenta, baking powder and yoghurt and mix well. Mix in the eggs, one by one, then stir in the zest and juice.

Pour the mixture into the tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Place the cordial and honey in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened. Taste and add lemon juice, if necessary. Reserve 2tbsp of the syrup. Skewer holes in the cake and pour over the rest of the syrup.

Leave to cool a little in the tin, then place on a wire rack. Mix the icing ingredients with the reserved syrup until smooth. Spread over the cooled cake and top with chopped pistachios.

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