The elderflower season is short, if you have access to elder trees, which bloom from about April to the end of June, rush to pick those little white flowers from the elderberry bush while you can. The large, flat-topped clusters grow along urban roads, in parks and gardens, in countryside lanes, woods and hedgerows. Elderflowers smell floral, creamy and summery. Now is the time to make elderflower champagne, cordial, jelly, whatever takes your fancy.
At this time each year, I like to make elderflower cordial. With its sweet, delicate flavor of muscat, homemade elderflower cordial is so much better than anything you can buy. Serve the cordial with cold sparkling water for a refreshing drink or sparkling wine (maybe even from a wine grower in your area) for a delicious cocktail. A couple of years ago I posted the recipe for homemade Elderflower Cordial HERE. If elderflower fritters are your thing, go ahead, indulge while you can, I posted the recipe HERE.
Apart from using my elderflower cordial for drinks or fritters, I use it in a variety of ways including my baking. Sometimes I make a lemony sponge cake that I infuse with elderflower syrup. Or I will mix some elderflower cordial into icings for cakes and muffins.
This year I’m into baking a sweet yeast bread that I call Elderflower Bread (Holunderbrot). It has ground almonds and elderflower blossoms as well as elderflower cordial in the dough . Basically, this is a so-called 'enriched yeast dough', meaning that there is butter, milk, sugar and an egg added to the simple yeast dough. And just before baking I like to place a sprig or two of the flowers on top – for looks and for taste.
Elderflower Bread (Holunderbrot)
- 200g strong white bread flour (around here 'Type 550'), plus some to flour the baking pan OR use spelt flour (around here that would be 'Type 1050')
- 50g almond flour (use almond flour OR grind 50g of natural almonds in your food processor)
- 3g fine sea salt
- 50g superfine baking (caster) sugar
- 50g butter, unsalted, room temperature
- 10g fresh yeast (the equivalent in dry yeast would be 4g)
- 60ml lukewarm whole milk (I like to use 3.5%)
- 2 eggs (M), free-range, 1 for the dough, 1 for the egg wash*
- 2 tbsp elderflower cordial (homemade OR good-quality store-bought)
- 2 tbsp freshly picked elderflower blossoms (you can sub dried elderflower blossoms OR leave them out)
- 1 or 2 small sprig(1) freshly picked elderflower blossoms (you can bake the bread without)
- In a large bowl, combine the flours, salt and sugar. Form a well. Add the butter to the well.
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, pour the milk mixture into the well, add the whole egg and the elderflower cordial.
- Using the dough hook(s) of your mixer, mix until you have a soft, somewhat shaggy dough, then knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes more.
- Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, at least about 1 hour (this can take up to 2 hours).
- In the meantime grease and flour a small loaf pan (mine is 21.5cm x 11cm) OR double the recipe and use a large loaf pan.
- Turn the risen dough out onto your work surface. Knead briefly and now add in the elderflower blossoms.
- Roll up the dough and place it into the floured loaf pan, place this in a warm place and let it rise again for about 1 hour or until it has visibly risen.
- In the meantime pre-heat your oven to 180° C (160°C convection oven).
- Brush the risen bread dough with eggwash and place one or two small elderflower sprigs on top of the loaf.
- Bake in your pre-heated oven at 180° C for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and risen. NOTE: If your bread darkens too quickly, cover loosely with aluminium foil towards the end of the baking time.
- When finished baking, take the bread out of the pan and place on a cooling rack. Serve warm OR at room temperature.
The taste of the elderflower cordial as well as the elderflower blossoms is subtle but it's there and is complimented nicely by the sweet almond flour. Plus there is a bit of crunch from the elderflower sprigs on top, which is very nice. And very pretty too.
It‘s best eaten the day it was baked. We love it with fresh butter and homemade strawberry jam but local honey is nice here as well.