*NEW* Ice Cream Flavour Of The Month – Elderberry Ripple

After making the hedgerow liquour and a couple of gallons of elderberry wine (excellent for colds and flu), there were still a fair amount of berries left over. What to do? First thought was a straight up elderberry ice cream; then I worried that the flavour might be either overpowering or lost, having never used them in desserts before. How about a ripple? It turned out be be a fantastic combination of tangy fruit and extra creamy ice cream. An ice cream who’s beauty has launched a new feature for the blog.

I’m pretty excited about having to think up new flavours (new for me at any rate) that somehow sum up each month. Also it’s a further oppurtunity to use my fancy pants ice cream maker; the self freezing unit makes it so simple to whip up a batch of nature’s prozac at any time of day or night. It’s a “Sage” by Heston Blummenthal, though I think they’re sold under a different name outside of the U.K.  It cost more than my fridge freezer and we worked out that we will have to make 90 litres of ice cream before it starts paying for itself, we’re about halfway there! Best of all it plays an ice cream van jingle when it’s ready! But I digress..

Elderberry Ripple Ice cream

For the ripple:

  • 200ml of elderberry juice
  • juice of half a lemon or lime
  • sugar to taste

I’m afraid I’m not very good at keeping accurate notes when recipe developing, and have no idea how many berries it took to get this much juice! Lets say 500g? Heat them gently in  a saucepan, with the lemon juice, until the juice starts to flow. Simmer gently for 10 mins to get rid of the toxins. Strain the berries out using muslin or a jelly bag and return the juice to the pan. Add sugar to taste, some like it sweet, others may prefer tangy. Stir till the sugar is dissolved.

Allow to cool then pop in the fridge.

For the ice cream:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 300ml milk
  • 120g sugar
  • 400ml double cream
  • 1 tsp cornflour

Put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk to combine. Heat the milk to boiling point.

Pour the milk onto the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat gently, stirring the whole time with a wooden spoon or spatula (the whisk won’t make enough contact with the bottom of the pan, risking a burnt and lumpy custard) until the custard has thickened to the consistency of cream and remove from the heat.

Pour into a large jug and add the double cream. Cool in the fridge.

Make the ice cream following the instruction for your machine. While it is churning put the elderberry syrup in the freezer, it helps to stop the ice cream melting again when you ripple it.

When the ice cream is ready and working quickly, spoon blobs of it into a tupperware type container, alternating with spoonfuls of elderberry syrup. Using a palette knife or simliar, ripple the two mixtures together. Don’t overdo it or it will lose the ripple effect!

Freeze for a few hours or overnight, then enjoy!

I was not paid to endorse the Sage ice cream maker, though if they would like to….

Hedgerow Tales

Wikipedia defines a hedgerow as “a line of closely spaced shrubs and tree species, planted and trained to form a barrier or to mark the boundary of an area.” In England many hedges are hundreds of years old and typically contain Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel and over native trees. In time the original hedge becomes colonized with other shrubs such as Brambles, Elder, Bullace, Crab apple and Dog Rose. In some areas the “hedges” can be the last remnant of an old country estate or market garden where you can stumble on old varities of apple, plum and pear, greengages, currants and raspberries reverted to wild.

Everywhere you look you will find wild fruit of some sort, have a look around. There is a grassy area behind our estate which is great for elderberries, blackberries, bullace plums and hawthorn berries. The local disused railway line has apples, rosehips and raspberries and part of a nearby canal marina is a bonanza of sloes. Get to know your local area. Avoid fruit growing next to main roads and industrial sites as they are covered in pollutants, yuck!

But what to do with it all when you’ve picked it? Here is a link to a fantastic recipe for hedgerow jelly which I’ve been making for a few years: http://www.countryliving.co.uk/create/food-and-drink/hedgerow-jelly Inspired by the recipe, this year I’m having a go at hedgerow liquour.

Hedgerow Liquour

You will need a large kilner jar or similar that will hold at least a litre of liquid.

  • 250g sugar
  • 250ml white wine
  • 150g blackberries
  • 100g elderberries
  • a large handful of hawthorn berries or rosehips
  • a large handful of bullace plums or sloes
  • a 750ml bottle of vodka

Sterilize the jar. Wash the fruit. Gently heat the wine and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved.

Elderberries contain toxins which are destroyed by heat and hawthorn berries are quite hard, put these in the saucepan with the wine and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 15 to 20 mins.

Prick the bullace plums all over with a skewer, put them in the jar with the blackberries. Pour the hot wine mixture into the jar as well. Top up the jar with as much vodka as it needs to reach the top.

Leave in the jar, shaking it every other day for a fortnight. Next (I haven’t got this far, mine is still mascerating) strain through muslin or a jelly bag into sterilized bottles. Leave to stand for a month so any remaining sediment can sink to the bottom. Strain again, this time through coffee filter paper, into fresh bottles. Enjoy neat, or with fizzy wine/tonicwater/whatever you fancy or maybe invent a new and exciting cocktail! I’ll update the post when mine is ready and let you know how it went.

First update: Just strained into bottles and my it’s delicious! Very sweet, very fruity with a tannin kick from the elderberries. Looking forward to seeing how it matures.

COTM: Blackberry and Apple Crumble

“O come at last, to whom the spring-tide’s hope

Looked for through blossoms, what hast thou for me?

Green grows the grass upon the dewy slope

Beaneath thy gold hung, grey leaved apple tree

Moveless, e’en as the autumn fain would be

That shades its sad eyes from the rising sun

And weeps at eve because the day is done”

September – William Morris

Autumn is the pefect season, crisp mornings giving way to warm sunshine, pretty coloured crispy leaves to kick around and every hedgerow bursting with free food (the best kind) Now is the time to go foraging for fruits, nuts and berries, mushrooms too if you feel brave (I’m not) Do make sure you know what you are picking, blackberries are easy to recognize but there are a multitude of other berries that look very much alike, you don’t want to be poisoned now do you? If you’re not experienced take a guide book with you. If in doubt DON’T EAT IT!! Some berries are fine cooked but not raw so don’t put your fingers in your mouth while picking, if you don’t believe me look up “purgative” in the dictionary and ponder it’s meaning.

First pick your blackberries (if you buy blackberries from the supermarket between August and October I will never respect you again, it only takes a few minutes to pop out to the nearest alleyway/wasteground/disused railway/neighbours garden to pick a couple of handfuls, which is all you need) Now it’s time to make September’s cake of the month, based on that wonderfully comforting British classic pudding, apple crumble.

Blackberry and Apple Crumble Cake

Based on a traditional Somerset apple cake

  • 4oz (120g) Butter
  • 6oz (180g) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 8oz (240g) white or brown plain flour
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cooking apples
  • a couple of handfuls of fresh blackberries
  • 4 tbsp milk

For the crumble topping:

  • 4oz (120g) plain flour
  • 2oz (60g) butter
  • 1oz (30g) granulated sugar

Pre heat the oven to 170ºc (325ºf). Grease and line an 8 inch cake tin, a springform one is the best, it’s tricky to get out of a loose bottomed tin because of the crumble topping!

Make the crumble first. Put all the ingredients ina bowl and rub together until they resemble breadcrumbs. Put to one side.

Chop the apple into small cubes:

apple chunksIn a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Sift in the flour, spices and baking powder and mix well.

Fold in the apples, blackberries and milk. Don’t worry it the mixture seems a bit stiff, the fruit releases moisture as it cooks so don’t add any more liquid.

blackberry mix

Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface. Sprinkle the crumble mix over the top. Bake for around 40 mins or until a skewer poked in the middle  comes out clean. If it seems to be too brown before being cooked in the centre, cover with a sheet of baking paper (not foil).

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins tham gently ease it out and cool on a wire tray.

Lovely served warm or cold, especially with clotted cream!

apple b cover

“Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness” – Keats