It was Jane’s birthday recently and she loves elderflowers, lemon, mashed potato (that is not a typo) and CAKE, so I thought I’d combine them all. The cake was lovely but I liked the idea of making the recipe into muffins filled with the curd. So you cut into them and get a nice surprise. For me, elderflower is one of the tastes of summer in the UK and it’s been a bumper year. We’ve been making many vats of cordial and can’t wait for the elderberry bonza!
You know I rarely bake a ‘normal’ cake, I just can’t handle the sugar overload, but this was a birthday so I let rip. You know the BHK, we live on the edge!!! I tend to freestyle with baking which freaks many people out. I see how it goes. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but generally, sticking to some rules and with a little experience, things turn out well. It also leads to new ideas/ creation. Which is what fuels me in the kitchen. After all, go back a few years and tell people you’re putting mashed potato in a cake and a few bushy eyebrows would have been raised I’m sure. In fact, they probably still are. I like to befriend these bushy eyebrows and I know that when they taste these muffins, they’ll be smiling
I used seived spelt flour here which worked well and had read about mashed potato as a binder years ago. Someone told me about a mashed potato cake and I thought, thats the kind of creative twist that gets me going. I finally got to try it out and it worked a treat. Jane’s parents really loved them, so baking with mashed potato will be played with even more in the BHK. It is light and does help bind the cake together.
Us vegans use a lot of mashed things in our cakes, squash, pumpkin, apple, sweet potato, bananas, I think potato is as good as any and the flavour is suitably bland for a binding agent. Some people have challenged me about using such binders and saying it will make the cake taste bizarre, I would think about it this way. A non-vegan cake is normally filled with a load of scrambled egg! That seems like it will mess with flavour more than a little mashed spud. It’s just something new, thats all.
Vegan lemon curd is nice. It’s not exactly, bang on, like the other stuff, but it’s getting there and benefits from being so easy to make. Adding the elderflower cordial to it makes it better for me. You can keep any leftovers in the fridge and it’s, of course, pretty dang good on toast.
The buttercream was a birthday pressie to Jane really (not the only one I might add!) Icing sugar and me don’t see eye to eye. It reminds me of church fares as a child and the cakes were always sickly sweet bits of icing with some sponge hanging off. Or those flapjacks made with buckets of golden syrup and hard raisins. I think my favourites were top hats made with marshmallows and chocolate with a smartie on top, but you didn’t need to bake them. Or rice crispies, they were great.
Basically, this buttercream is old school and no one would be able to tell the difference. There are some decent new margarine type things coming out, Pure is a good staple choice, plus Suma and Biona always deliver good products. I just read that ‘I Can’t Belive It’s Not Butter’ have just released a ‘ICBINB It’s Vegan!’ brand, which is slightly confusing but raised a smile. It is made with ‘real’ ingredients. One thing that has shocked me in a nice way is the range of vegan ingredients and products in the supermarkets, what a difference a year makes (we’ve been travelling here, there and everywhere fyi).
This recipe over at Wall Flower Kitchen was a particular inspiration. Judging by this experiment, I would use seived spelt flour again, we know that its a good option from a health point of view but I love the flavour.
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I have toned down the sugar here, but I think it’s a perfect quantity. Not too sweet. The icing makes up for that. We tried the muffins without the icing and they’re ok with a cuppa, but you’re not going to fool any birthday person that they’re not lacking something.
All elderflower cordials are not made equal, especially if you are making your own. The cordial we used was quite strong. See recipe at the bottom.
You can use chopped almonds as a topping here, I just like the colour of the pistachios.
Best check that your lemon is unwaxed before using the zest. If it’s waxed, and you’re just juicing, don’t worry, it will still be nice and lemony.
As you know, all ovens are different. If your oven is fierce, check them after 16 minutes.
Elderflower & Pistachio Muffins
The Bits – For 12 muffins
300g spelt flour (sieved)
100g ground almonds
2 teas baking powder
1 teas bicarb of soda
200ml almond milk
150g mashed potato
2 teas vanilla extract
3 tbs elderflower cordial
80ml sunflower oil
12 large muffin cases
15g vegan margarine/ butter
150g icing sugar
1/2 teas vanilla extract
2 tbs plant based milk
2 tbs elderflower cordial
Vegan Lemon & Elderflower Curd
1 large lemon (zest and juice)
4 tbsp corn flour(starch)
40ml plant-based milk
3 tbsp brown rice syrup or sweetner of choice
1 teas turmeric powder
3 tbsp elderflower cordial
1 handful pistachios (finely chopped or pulsed in a blender a couple of times)
Fresh elderflowers (for nice decoration)
Vegan Lemon Curd
Make the curd in advance, 1 hour before is ideal. Place all ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth. In a small saucepan, bring the curd to a gentle boil, whisking as it warms. When it reaches boiling, take off the heat and whisk well until smooth. If you leave it, expect the curd to go clumpy. Once it is nice and smooth, decant into a container and leave to cool.
Add the ground almonds to a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, bicarb and baking powder.
In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients, including the sugar.
Stir the wet into the dry mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.
Line your muffin tray with muffin cases.
Using a dessert spoon, spoon enough mix into the muffin cases to fill around 2/3 of the case. Using a teaspoon, spoon roughly 1 1/2 tbs of curd into the centre of the case. Making the curd into a round shape before doing this helps. Now top the muffins off with the rest of the muffin mix. Don’t overfill the cases, they will rise when baked, fill them until a few millimetres from the top.
Bake 18-20 mins 180oC fan oven. Test with a skewer and look for any wet dough, the curd inside will make it slightly more difficult to tell.
Place the margarine/ butter in a bowl and whisk until creamy, gradually add the icing sugar, whisking together until you have a thick consistency. Add the elderflower and milk, whisk again, adding more icing sugar if needed, until fluffy. It should be thick and spreadable and takes a little work. If you’re not into whisking, you can use a food processor. Place in the fridge to thicken up even more.
Allow the muffins to cool on a wire rack and then spoon on the buttecream, spread with the back of a spoon, sprinkle over pistachios, top with elderflowers.
We don’t eat enough flowers do we!? Flowers make any bowl, plate and especially salads even more beautiful.
Summer flowers that we can eat include nasturtium, calendula, borage, broad bean flowers, chicory, chives, snap dragon, sunflower, tulip, viola, violets, wild primrose, wild garlic, coriander, cornflower, dahlia, gladioli, daisy, chives, honeysuckle, pansy, rose, sage, courgette flowers. Quite a list and that’s nowhere near all of them. Flowers are on the menu!
Flowers like this generally have a light flavour, it’s more about the vibrant look really. Don’t just wander out and eat any flower though, many are not good for us, some poisonous.
Elderflower is said to have anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it is also said to lower blood sugar and boosts the immune system. You can also gargle (not coridal) with elderflower, which is quite nice.
Find out how to make our favourite Elderflower Cordial and Elderflower Champagne. Elderflowers are so abundant at this time of year its a shame not to;) One thing I haven’t tried is Elderflower Tempura which sounds delicious. Anyone tasted it?
As ever, if you bake these muffins, we’d love to hear your comments and chat below.
PS – We very rarely get any freebies and have no sponsorship etc, we do this because we love it! If we mention products, it’s only because we like them and want to share. If we get free stuff etc, we would tell you.