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17 July 2016

For eleven months of the year, elder trees languish quietly and inconspicuously in our hedgerows, gardens, woodlands and wastelands. But June brings with it elderflower season and, quite suddenly, these sweet  scented white flowers bloom in abundance. Filled with aromatic pollen, elderflower has a strong and fresh flavour which can hold its own in baking. While elderflower is just finishing, I wanted to share a recipe to make use of delicious elderflower cordial.

Elderflower is easy to identify, but as trees differ it takes time to get to know the good ones. Elderflower is best picked on a dry day, when the flowers are newly opened. While most trees bloom copiously, it's important to leave some flowers on each tree for elderberries later in the season.

Elderflower wilts quickly, so it's best to preserve it as a cordial. Once bottled, the cordial will last for a couple of months, and can be used in a plethora of sweet recipes. You can find my recipe for homemade elderflower cordial here, although you can use shop bought too if you're short for time.

125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
2 large eggs
50g ground almonds
75g plain flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon
100ml elderflower cordial
125g icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 180C, and line a 7" round cake time with baking parchment.

Beat the butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs, mixing after each addition. Separately sieve together the ground almonds, plain flour, salt and baking powder, then fold into the cake mixture. Stir through the lemon zest.

Spoon the cake mixture into the lined tin and level with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean from the centre of the cake. While the cake is still hot, brush over half of the elderflower cordial.

To make the glaze, beat the remaining 50ml elderflower with the icing sugar. Once the cake has cooled, remove it from the tin onto a serving plate. Pour the glaze over the top, and decorate with extra elderflower.

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