Updated: Apr 25
A delicious addition to the traditional Lemon Drizzle Cake
According to County Living Magazine, until recently Lemon Drizzle cake was the UK’s most loved cake. Lemon & elderflower cake was one of the flavour combinations chosen by the royal couple. Now a favourite choice for lots of couples.
Elderflower syrup is easy to make and tastes so much nicer that most commercial syrups.
In late May and June, the humble elder tree (Sambucus nigra) flowers. The mass of tiny white flowers hang in sprays, and can be found growing along hedgerows and woodlands in the UK and Northern European countries.
I collect flowers in the morning when walking my dog Oscar on the Ripon Canal towpath, taking care to avoiding stinging nettles. I choose stems with open flowers, leaving the buds to open up for another days collection. A sharp pair of scissors will snip through the stems. I have been known to forget my scissors, when that happens I snap off the flower heads by hand, this can easily be done without damaging the branch.
I collect about 30 -40 heads, if the heads are on the small side I add a few more, it just depends on how much syrup I want to make. When I get home, I place the flower heads in the sink and cover with cold water. I gently move the flowers in the water then lift them out of the water, giving them a gentle shake before putting them in a large cullender. Time for a coffee, the kettle is on and the ingredients are ready. I place the damp flowers in a large bowl ready for the next step.
A few simple ingredients: sugar, lemons, elderflowers, boiling water and citric acid (optional). Citric acid is found in citrus fruits and is a natural preservative. By adding citric acid, the syrup keeps longer.
I always wash lemons before zesting and I only use unwaxed lemons. To the elder flowers sugar and citric acid is added. Then the lemon zest and slices of lemon and finally boiling water is poured over the top and I give it a good stir until all the sugar has dissolved. I cover the bowl and leave it to do its work for 2 to 3 days no more than 3.
I found these gorgeous bottles, perfect for a gift. For my own purposes I use plain sterilised glass bottles.
The syrup is ready to strain and decant into containers. I place a colander in a large bowl. Using a large spoon, I take out the solid parts and place them in the colander allowing the liquid to drip through.
I then strain the liquid from both bowls through a muslin cloth or fine mesh sieve into a jug. It takes a while for all the liquid to strain through. The elderflowers and lemon solid parts go into the compost bin.
I am now ready to fill my bottles, if the neck of the bottle is tiny I use a funnel, otherwise I just pour it in from the jug.
The bottled elder flower syrup is ready to serve. I like my syrup diluted with sparkling water, a few ice cubes, and a slice of lemon. So, refreshing on a hot summer’s day. I must remind myself, I made this syrup not to drink but to put it in cakes. I freeze undiluted syrup in small quantities. Because of the high sugar content, the syrup may not become completely solid, therefore I freeze small quantities of syrup in lidded containers remembering to leave a gap at the top. In the fridge the syrup will keep for up to 3 weeks without the citric acid and up to 2 months with citric acid. It does not last that long in our house!!!
Elder Flower Syrup - Makes 1 litre of syrup.
35 large Elderflower heads
1250 grams white granulated sugar
4 lemons zested then sliced.
50g Citric acid (optional)
1 litre boiling water
Place the flower heads in a bowl of water, wash them gently then place them in cullender to drain.
Place the flower heads, lemon zest & lemon slices in a large bowl.
Add sugar, (citric acid) & boiling water. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved.
Cover with a tea towel.
Leave for 2 to 3 days.
Strain the liquid and decant into sterilised bottles.