Elderflower Glazed Lemon Loaf Cake

The elderflowers are blooming and I like to make cordial at this time of year. I love to smell the fragrance of elderflowers drifting on a summer breeze and a great way of using them is in cakes and icing. The flowers are abundant in early June, just remember not to take too many as they turn into lovely elderberries later in the year.

We love Starbucks lemon loaf cake in this house, but its so easy to make at home and the addition of elderflower syrup really makes for a lovely summer dessert.

This was also a great excuse to use my lovely new Nordic Wear fluted loaf pan – the latest addition to my collection!

The cake itself is a moist pound cake, flavoured with lemon juice, zest and a little of the elderflower syrup. The glaze is simply icing sugar, lemon juice and elderflower syrup mixed together which is both sweet and tart.

Ingredients:
170g butter at room temperature
250g caster sugar
250g plain/all purpose flour, sieved with 1tsp baking powder
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1tbs vanilla extract
1tbs elderflower syrup
1/2tsp salt
Zest of one large lemon and half the juice (save the other half for the icing)
60g sour cream

Glaze:
Approximately 150g icing sugar (sieved)
Juice of half a lemon
1-2tbsp elderflower syrup – find a recipe for the cordial/syrup here

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F and brush your loaf pan with melted butter and lightly dust with flour. The Nordic Wear pans are non-stick anyway, but I usually butter them too

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, you can do by hand or in a mixer with the paddle attachment. Then add the eggs a little at a time until fully incorporated, scraping the bowl as needed.

With the mixer on slow, add the vanilla, lemon zest and then alternatively add the juice, flour elderflower syrup if using and sour cream until everything is just mixed together.

Put the batter into the prepared baking tin and bake for 15 minutes, before lowering the temperature to 160°C/325°F for 50 to 60 minutes – check with a toothpick after 50 minutes, if it comes out clean, its ready.

Leave to cool in the tin for around 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack over a tray to catch any icing run-off!

When the cake is quite cool, make the glaze – simply mix the sieved icing sugar with the lemon and elderflower syrup until you have a smooth glaze that you can spoon over the cake. Not too thick and not too runny, you want it to sit on the cake.

Leave to set before serving with berries, cream or ice cream

Homemade Christmas Wreath

I love a nice, fresh Christmas wreath, but they are so very expensive to buy (the good ones anyway), so its a great idea and a nice seasonal activity to make your own.

The first thing you need to decide upon is what kind of base to use, I’ve used a wire ring and covered it in moss, but you can also get a foam one that you soak first to keep the foliage fresh. Both are fairly inexpensive, but a wire one is reusable.

The only other equipment you need is some florist wire, some wire cutters and a hook for the door if you don’t already have one – I used a Command hook that is temporary as I didn’t want to screw a hook into my front door!

If using a wire ring, it’s a good idea to cover it in nice fresh moss that will keep the base moist and help your foliage last longer. You can buy moss from a florist, or you can take a basket and go foraging. The best time to go is after the rain. I found some in my garden, but for the majority, I went to the local woods and found plenty at the base of the trees. Just take care not to take too much from the same place.

Using the wire, wind it around the moss to cover the ring completely. Covering the ring with moss can be a messy business, so its a good idea to do it outside!

Once you have covered the ring in moss, its time to attach your foliage of choice. I foraged some, but also bought some nice Christmas stems too. I also used cinnamon sticks, dried lotus heads, pine cones and dried orange slices tied on with twine. I couldn’t find any crab apples, or else I would have used some of those too.

I’ve gone for a simple, traditional wreath, but the designs are unlimited. Just be sure there are no wires sticking out of the back that might scratch the door.

Once a week, spray with water, or if you have a foam ring, you can soak it to help stop the foliage drying out

Cherry Hand Pies

It’s coming to the end of cherry season here and I’ve been trying to make a cherry pie for a while now, but every time I buy any cherries, they are eaten!

Cherries

Thankfully, I managed to make these little pies before anyone scoffed them!

These cherries are sweetheart cherries and are really dark, sweet and luscious to eat right away, but also great for making into pies, jams and tarts.  They don’t need too much sugar and make the perfect filling for a hand pie.

Cherry handpie

The pies are really quick and easy to make, the worst thing is taking the stones out.  It’s a really messy job.  You can either cut the cherries in half and remove the stones that way, or I use a cherry stoner.  I’m not sure either way is any less messy than the other, but the little tool is definitely quicker.

When cherries are out of season, frozen cherries work well too and they are already pitted!

In these pies, I have cooked the filling first as I wanted to lock in all the juice that can run out of a little pie, you just need to let it cool before adding to the pastry.

Cherry handpies baked

Ingredients:
For the filling:
300g cherries, pitted – I used two punnets
125g sugar
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup of water
2tbs corn starch or thickener – I used King Arthur Clear Gel
1/4 tsp almond extract
Pinch of salt

For the crust:
250g plain/all purpose flour
100g icing/confectioner’s sugar
150g cold butter, cut into cubes and refrigerated
2 egg yolks
1tsp vanilla extract
1-3tbs iced water
1 egg and a little milk to make an egg wash

Method:
To make the crust, place the flour, sugar, butter and vanilla into a food processor and pulse until you have the texture of rough breadcrumbs.  You can also do this by hand, using a pastry cutter.

Add the yolks and pulse, before adding the iced water one tablespoon at a time, you are looking for the dough to just come together.

Turn the dough out, form into a disc and wrap in plastic before refrigerating until you are ready to roll out.

Cherry hand pie rack

To make the filling, mix the sugar and thickener together and place the pitted cherries into a saucepan, along with the other ingredients.  If you don’t like almond extract, either replace with vanilla, or leave it out.

Bring up to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes – until the mixture has thickened and reduced, then leave to cool completely.

Roll out the dough and cut out enough shapes for the bases and lids.  I’ve used a circle cutter, but the bottom of a glass would do the job too.

Spoon a little of the filling into the middle of each circle and brush a little egg wash onto the edges.  Cover with the lid and press around the edges with a fork to seal each pie.  Dip the fork into some flour if it starts to stick.

Cherry Hand Pies cooling

Place the pies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a non stick liner.  I’ve used a cute little cherry cutter to top my pies too.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to chill and firm up.

When you are ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F

Brush each pie with a little of the egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown and make sure no one bites into one straight from the oven as they will be insanely hot!

Cherry handpies

These are lovely warm with ice cream, or the perfect portable pie to take on a picnic.  They also make a really nice after-school treat.

Cherry hand pie tin