Friday 27 May 2011

Can't Get More May Than That!

In my parents' garden, 21.05.2011

May is a particularly good month for a lot of things, for a lot of people, in many parts of the world. In the Northern hemisphere, it usually means the definite end of frosty nights and snowy mornings (exceptions do occur, of course), but not yet the sometimes stifling, dusty heat of high summer. There are many traditions linked with May; maypole dancing, the 1st of May etc., and it is generally considered THE month for romance and weddings.

Where I live, we have several May traditions of the culinary kind, and last Saturday at my parents' garden, we indulged in two of them: Elderflower pancakes and strawberry punch.

Of course, you need elderflower for the pancakes, and thankfully, there is an abundance of those in the garden. They grow far from any industry or cars passing by, and no pesticides or any other chemical substances have been used on them, so that they are fit for consumption. Also, if you want to try this yourself, make sure you do not wait too long - as soon as the first tiny berries start to show, you can't make the flower pancakes anymore.

The weather plays a crucial part in it; a fine, dry day is best. As you can see in the picture, we were not entirely lucky that day. It had been raining right up to the moment we arrived in the garden (it is an allotment about half an hour by car from the town where we live), and so the flowers were wet - they shouldn't be, and you should not wash them if you happen to catch a sunny day for your elderflower pancake fest!

The following recipe is how my mum makes them; it serves four but can be easily adapted if there are more of you to enjoy the pancakes.

Cut at least 20 flowers.

Heat sufficient oil (my mum uses 1/4 litre of sunflower oil) in a deep frying pan.

(At the garden, we have a wooden shed, furnished like a tiny house*; this gas cooker is always there and has seen a lot of action in the 8 years we've been coming to this place!)

In the meantime, the flowers are left upside down on kitchen tissue; this way, my mum managed to get rid of some of the wetness from the rain.

Now you need the batter, which my mum had prepared at home and brought along.

It is a rather liquid pancake batter, consisting of

250 g flour
1 tea spoon baking powder
1/2 pack vanilla sugar
1 egg
0,13 litre milk
3 table spoons rum (in case you have children or recovering alcoholics among your guests, simply use a bit more milk or some fruit juice)
1 table spoon oil of neutral taste (not olive oil)
a pinch of salt

You'll see it for yourself when the batter has the right consistence.

Dip each flower upside down into the batter, so that it soaks well. Unfortunately, our flowers still being a bit wet from the rain, some of the tiny white blossoms came off. That's why you should not wash them beforehand!

Still, they held the batter well enough to be placed into the hot oil.

Leave them to fry for a while until you notice the rims taking colour.

Turn the cakes over and fry them from the other side until both sides are a nice golden brown.

They should look like this when they are ready:

Let me assure you - it smells, looks and tastes wonderful!

The elderflower pancakes can be served with vanilla sauce or you dust them with a bit of frosting sugar; you can also serve a mixture of cinnamon and sugar with them, and of course coffee.
What matters most is that they are eaten as they are made, very hot and straight out of the pan to the plate.

We enjoyed these very much, and there were no left-overs!

Later in the afternoon, we moved from coffee to home-made strawberry punch...
...but that's another story :-)

*You can see more of the inside of the shed here.


  1. Very nice pictures! Another reason for having dry blossoms is, that the aromatic yellow pollen in the petals, which give the special taste, get lost, when you (or the rain) wash it!

  2. Looks and sounds delicious! As a recovering alcoholic, I don't usually worry about cooking with alcohol because the alcohol cooks off -- at least that's what I've been told. But thank you for thinking of us.

  3. gigunelsa, thank you for stopping by and for explaining about the pollen!

    Mark, as the pancake batter is not fried for very long, I am not sure about how much alcohol (if any) is really left in the pancakes, it's not like with a sauce that has been boiling for a while. The taste is certainly not noticeable; I only knew my mum had put rum into the batter when I she gave me the recipe. But since we've had first-hand experience with alcoholics in the family and neighbourhood, it has become self-understood for us to keep in consideration who will be there for a specific meal.