The hedgerows are frothing with elder blossom and the strawberry beds spilling over with fruit. I can’t think of a better way to bring them together than in this fresh, seasonal interpretation of a centuries-old recipe, an elderflower and strawberry syllabub.
Thank goodness for the electric whisk. It would have needed more elbow grease back in the 17th and 18th centuries, when a syllabub was beaten into an airy froth, which was then floated on glasses of sweetened wine.
Modern recipes are closer to what in 1747 Hannah Glasse called Everlasting Syllabub, presumably because it was less ethereal and ephemeral. Her version in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy calls for two and a half pints of thick cream, half a pint of Rhenish (wine),half a pint of sack (sherry) and a pound of sugar. Oh, and some citrus fruit. They catered for a crowd in those days, or possibly people with gargantuan appetites. Compare that ingredients list to the paucity of mine which provides, as my grandma used to say, an elegant sufficiency for four.
I have used St Germain elderflower liqueur. I don’t suppose many people have a bottle lurking in the drinks cupboard so if you prefer, you can substitute a similar quantity of sweet dessert wine like muscat, with two tablespoons of elderflower cordial. Plan ahead by a few hours as both syllabub and strawberries benefit from some time in the fridge.
Elderflower and Strawberry Syllabub
50ml elderflower cordial
150ml double cream
30ml St Germain (see intro)
20g caster sugar
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Hull the strawberries, dice them and place in a bowl with the elderflower cordial. Leave to macerate for an hour or two.
Put the remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk until the cream is holding its shape – you’re aiming for a soft slump rather than stiff peaks. Spoon it into glasses and place in the fridge for the flavours to mingle and for it to set a little more.
When you want to eat, spoon the macerated strawberries over the elderflower syllabubs. Almond tuiles add a welcome crunch and a complementary flavour.