Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I'm feeling like a mix between Suzie Homemaker and Barbara from "The Good Life".  And all because I picked a few flowers, made a cordial from them and then used the cordial to make some muffins - easily impressed with myself !!!!!!

Elderflower season has passed but while the little white beauties were still on the trees, I fulfilled my (totally misplaced) image of myself as an earth mother type and went foraging for elderflowers and nettles, to make cordial and soup respectively.

I had a very fruitful (sorry!!) expedition and came home with a big bag of nettles (the soup was excellent) and a large bunch of elderflowers.

I combined recipes from Darina Allen and The Friendly Cottage and ended up with a wonderfully fragrant , sweet but not over sweet drink - my son reckons that it makes a perfect post-sports drink.  This cordial will be a regular here every June, I intend to make at least a double quantity next year.

It was a no-brainer that I had to try Harry Eastwood's recipe for Raspberry and Elderflower Cupcakes, and they are really tasty, as always the usual fat is replaced with vegetables (courgettes here) and ground nuts (almonds here), this lightness works wonderfully with the sour/sweet aspect of both the raspberries and elderflower. 

Raspberry and Elderflower Cupcakes

2              medium eggs
140g        caster sugar
200g        grated courgette
3 tbsp      elderflower cordial
80g          rice flour
120g        ground almonds
2 tsp        baking powder
1/4 tsp     salt
120g        raspberries (I used frozen)

Preheat oven to 180 C
Line muffin tin with 12 paper cases

Whisk the eggs and sugar (a freestanding mixer is best here) for 5 minutes until very light and pale.
Grate the courgette and add to the egg and sugar mixture.
Mix through the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder and cordial.
Gently fold through the raspberries.
Divide equally between the muffin cases.
Bake for 25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Elderflower Cordial

40 - 50 elderflower heads
2 kg      white caster sugar *
finely grated zest and juice of two organic lemons
75g       citric acid

Pick the elderflowers in the afternoon when they are dry. Check that there are no insects.
Make a sugar syrup by heating the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
Rinse the elderflowers gently and place in a very large bowl or very clean bucket.
Add the lemon zest and juice to the syrup. then add the citric acid.
Pour this over the elderflowers, making sure they are all immersed.
Cover and leave to soak for 24 hours.
Next day you are ready to bottle your cordial.
Run the bottles you are using through the dishwasher to sterilise.
Sieve the cordial into a large jug, I used a plastic sieve lined with kitchen paper.
Decant into your bottles of choice.  Store in the fridge.
I didn't have enough bottles so have frozen some in those ice-cube bags.

*I used golden sugar and although it tastes perfect the colour would have been nicer had I used white.

P.S. There is a lovely recipe for elderflower champagne on The Food Blog which I can't wait to try next year.


Rhyleysgranny said...

Well Barbara you did a good job. I have always been afraid of nettle soup. Your muffins look so pretty. Did the nettle soup REALLY taste nice?

Brownieville Girl said...

The nettle soup was good (very like spinich soup) I used LOADS of other veg though - a friend of mine reckons that she loses 2 lbs every time she eats nettle soup for lunch for a week - I didn't make enough to try the theory!!!

P.S. I'm not Barbara!!!

Lucie said...

The muffins look wonderful....how great that you picked elderflowers - what an earth mother you sound :)

Rhyleysgranny said...

I thought you were doing a pretty good impersonation of Barbara clambering through hedgerows collecting nettles and elderflowers:)

Brownieville Girl said...

Dooh!!! How stupid am I????? I have an awful feeling that Margot would be nearer the mark!!

Sorry Granny

Anonymous said...

Margot was my fave... she'd never be seen dead eating nettle soup x

Cookie Confessions said...

mmm these look good! Have you ever tried st, germain elderflower liqueur? It's a great addition to a mojito! Thanks for the great recipe!

Deirdre said...

wow those cupcakes sound great. I wonder could I make them with some leftover champagne?

Brownieville Girl said...

Deirdre "leftover champagne" sounds like an oxymoron to me!!!!!!

CC, another liqueur to add to my wishlist!

Dominic, I can just imagine Margot's face if she were given a bowl of nettle soup!!!!

Coby said...

I thought I was being clever finding Elderflower Cordial for sale, and here you are *making* it BG! Nettles scare me. I love the sound of the dishes using them, but I just don't know - my hands itch thinking about it. I ALWAYS end up with holes in my gloves you see.....

Very impressive day - the muffins with their combo of ingredients are like nothing I have ever heard of!:)

Anonymous said...

Nettles? You don't find those much (ever) over here that I'm aware of but, your muffins look good...

Kim said...

The raspberry and elderflower muffins look amazing. I bet the aroma while they were baking was out of this world! Enjoy your cordial!

Jutta said...

I'm with Coby - nettles scare me too! My brother used to make Nettle wine for the local retired ladies as it was just the thing they loved. I preferred his chocolate liquer.

Seems like you are enjoying the good life over summer BG! Any plans for pigs in the back garden?

Brownieville Girl said...

NEVER Jutta, I have enough trouble with the next door neighbour's calves getting in!!!!!

Kat said...

The muffins look wonderful. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. Please visit often as I am always posting new recipes and having giveaways. I am now following you too. Have a wonderful day.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Nettle soup and elderflower cordial! These sound so exotic to me! We have nettles growing in the hedgerows here in New England, but they are mean on the hands ... I wonder if these are the same plants you gathered?

As for elderflower cordial ... the cakes looks lovely! AND gluten-free! Yes! Kudos!

You'll have to go back when the other elderflowers have 'berried up' and harvest for some elderberry wine!

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

ireland !!! i want to see ireland so bad....it is so beautiful...everything i love...oh...so glad we found each other....we love the same things..your raspberry and elderberry cupcakes look amazing...

i love your blog...so happy to follow you too....

i will be back very soon


Anonymous said...

Thrilled you found my blog and even more thrilled to visit you! Thank you - thank you! Ahh elderflower cordial?! Amazing - I love that you are cooking with such fantastic ingredients! dreamy! loads of foodie love! ♥♥♥ megan

Brownieville Girl said...

Big welcome to my new visitors :-}}

The nettles can be pretty wicked, but I went prepared - will post photos soon!!!!