This is a cake I first made earlier in the year, when spring dandelions smothered my allotment in bursts of bright yellow. They looked so beautiful and healthy (I’m very good at growing weeds) that it seemed a shame to dig them up and chuck them on the compost heap. So, I picked an entire bag full, with vague memories of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine swirling around my head:
“And there, row upon row, with the soft gleam of flowers opened at morning, with the light of this June sun glowing through a faint skin of dust, would stand the dandelion wine… Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass… change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in.” (Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury).
As someone who has absolutely zero home-brew experience (apart from sloe gin), actual dandelion wine was a little beyond me. So I was delighted to discover dandelion syrup. The following recipe is a two-parter: how to make a syrup out of dandelion flowers, and then – of course – how to use it in a cake recipe.
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- Large bowl of dandelion flowers (between 50-100, depending on size)
- 1 large apple, chopped
- juice of 1 lemon
- 500g caster sugar
- Wash the dandelion flower heads and spread them out to dry on kitchen paper or tea towels
- Use a pair of scissors to snip the petals away the green stalks (doesn’t matter if a few green bits find their way in)
- Place the petals in a large pan with about 700ml of water, the chopped apple and the lemon juice
- Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for around 15 minutes
- Remove from the heat, and leave to cool and steep, with the lid on, for a few hours (at least 2)
- Strain the liquid through a muslin or a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing all the liquid from the petals and fruit
- Return the clear liquid to the pan
- Add the sugar, and bring to the boil. Simmer on a low heat for around 1 hour to 1 hour 30 mins, stirring occasionally, until the syrup thickens
- Pour into sterilised, sealable bottles or jars. The syrup should keep in the fridge for a few weeks to a month.
Thanks to The Nerdy Farm Wife and the Traditional Scandinavian Dandelion Syrup recipe for the inspiration!
Dandelion Syrup Cake
Now, a use for that beautiful syrup! To me, dandelion syrup has a delicate, floral taste, somewhere between dried hay and honey. It’s just what’s needed when the weather is grey and drizzly (which is more often than not, here in the UK) and you need something that tastes of the sun.
- 175g softened butter
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 3 free-range eggs
- 175g self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or a vanilla bean pod)
- zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 tbsp dandelion syrup
For the drizzle:
- 2 tbsp dandelion syrup
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a tbsp of flour with each to stop the mixture from splitting.
- Fold in the rest of the flour.
- Gently stir in the vanilla, zest, juice and syrup.
- Spoon into the tin and bake for around 35-40 minutes, until risen and golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. (If the top starts browning too quickly, cover it with some foil).
- While the cake is still warm, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over the dandelion syrup so that it soaks in, followed by the lemon juice and finally the caster sugar, to give it a drizzle-cake style topping.
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