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

Asparagus and Hot Smoked Salmon Puff Pastry Bundles

These are a delicious combination of asparagus, hot smoked salmon, cream cheese and lemon zest, all wrapped in buttery puff pastry. I’ve used 4 asparagus spears per bundle here, but it really depends on how thin your asparagus is – you could get away with more, if using the very thin ones. I wouldn’t use the very thick spears for this.

Salmon and asparagus bundle

I think puff pastry – especially ready-made puff pastry is one of the most versatile ingredients you can have on hand. I love homemade puff pastry too, but it’s super time consuming and the all-butter pastry you can get is really very good. The ready rolled stuff – even better!

These asparagus bundles are really delicious to eat and are nice served warm from the oven as an appetiser with salad, cold on a buffet table and make a great portable snack to take on a picnic. Like all things made with puff pastry though, they will lose their crispness, so they are best eaten within 24 hours of making them.

Salmon asparagus parcels

Leave the puff pastry in the fridge until you have all the other ingredients ready to assemble.  It can behave badly if it gets too warm and not puff up as much as it should do.

Ingredients:
1 sheet of ready-made, ready-rolled, all-butter puff pastry
150g (approx) cream cheese – I used Philadelphia, full fat
24 (approx) trimmed asparagus spears – I used 4 per bundle
2 fillets of hot smoked salmon – I used honey roasted, ready to eat
Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
Salt and pepper
1 little olive oil
1 egg, beaten

Salmon and asparagus parcels

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F and line a baking tin with parchment or a non-stick liner

On a lightly floured surface, cut the rectangle of ready-rolled puff pastry into 6 equal squares. I used a pizza cutter to do this.

Then, on a diagonal, spoon a little cream cheese onto each square and flake the salmon on top.  You really don’t need a lot, or you won’t be able to close your parcel.

Rub a little oil onto the asparagus spears with your hands, just enough to help it cook in the oven.

Season with salt and black pepper and then sprinkle over the lemon zest.  This really helps lift the flavours.

Brush the visible edges of the pastry with beaten egg and draw up two opposite corners to form a bundle, press the edges together to seal.

Salmon & asparagus parcels

Place the pastry bundles ontp the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle over a little extra salt and pepper if you like.

If it’s a very warm day and the parcels have warmed up too much, put them in the fridge to chill out and firm back up for 10-20 minutes.

Salmon & asparagus bundle1

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden.  Serve warm from the oven as an appetiser with salad, or cold for a buffet or picnic

Baked Eggs with Mushrooms and Spinach

I love making baked eggs!  They feel special, but are so easy to make and are not nearly as much effort as poached eggs or an omelette.

Baked Eggs08

For a perfect Sunday brunch dish, these really hit the spot and are full of flavour and pretty substantial too.

I’ve used Gruyere cheese here as its such a good melting cheese, but cheddar or any other melting cheese would work well.  The vegetables I’ve used with my eggs are sauteed onions, mushrooms and wilted spinach, with just a little cream to give it a rich and decadant feel.

Baked Eggs06

You really need to serve this with hot buttered toast to mop up the creamy mushrooms and runny yolk and my favourite is always sourdough, which I think makes the best toast.

This recipe is so easy and can be scaled up or down.  Use a ramekin for one egg, or a large oven-proof dish to serve a crowd.

Baked Eggs04

Here, I have made enough for 2 people with 2 eggs each.

Ingredients:
4 extra-large eggs
1 large bunch of spinach leaves, washed and spun dry
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 punnet of mushrooms, sliced – wild/Portobello/button – the choice is yours
150g gruyere cheese
Small pat of butter and a little oil
4tbs double/heavy cream – 1tbs per egg
Salt and pepper
Some nice bread for toasting, I’ve used sourdough

Baked Eggs05

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F and lightly butter the dishes

Melt the rest of the butter with a tiny splash of oil and sauté the sliced onion with a pinch of salt and pepper until translucent.  The little splash of oil will help ensure the butter doesn’t burn.

Baked Eggs02

Add in the mushrooms and continue cooking until everything is softened and the mushrooms are just starting to colour.  Stir in the spinach, it will wilt really quickly and then remove from the heat and set aside.

Divide the vegetable mixture between the dishes and add half the cheese.

Break two eggs per person into each dish – taking care not to break the yolks.  Season with a little salt and pepper, add 2tbs cream and top with the remaining cheese.

Baked Eggs01

Place the dishes on a baking tray and bake until the white is just set and the cheese is bubbling. You want the yolk to be runny enough to dip the toast in, so don’t overcook.  It should take around 10 minutes, but keep an eye on them.

Serve immediately with hot buttered toast.

Baked Eggs

Perfect for brunch, lunch or add a salad for supper. I’ve added some roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine here too.