We did it! We did it again! Seven wild years together, travelling Europe, living in the midst of London’s fascinating craziness, then in the heart of the crowded Netherlands where privacy has a high price, all has been packed into boxes, and we left. We left as a family of three – but without the boxes (long story!).
Finally, our hearts that have been called into the wild nature, have come home. In the Slovenian mountains we have found a place where songs of finches, sparrows, nuthatches, owls and crickets quiet our thoughts, where morning fragrances of elderflower, chamomile and juniper trees infuse our nostrils, where present moment is all there is. This is THE dream I had a while ago…
June offerings are abundant here. Fields and meadows are brimming with the most versatile flora I have ever seen. Luckily, my pruning scissors came with me, so many herbs will be preserved and added to the medicine cabinet to comfort, soothe, heal and strengthen our bodies when long, snowy winter days take over this summer abundance.
Elder trees (Sambucus Nigra) came as a huge surprise. I have never in my life seen so many big blossoming trees, with white fluffy clouds of elderflower infusing the air with the sweetest scent. This is the smell that has already been carved in my memory as the smell of Slovenia.
Health benefits of elderflower:
- Anti-bacterial and anti-viral
- Reduces blood sugar levels
- Mild laxative
Due to its significant health benefits elderflower has been used in traditional medicine all over the world. While the rest of the elder plant – leaves, twigs, roots, even berries when not fully ripe, are toxic, elderflower can be used internally for colds, flu, respiratory disturbances, such as sinusitis, to reduce the blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels and to strengthen the immunity. Topically, elderflower can be used to reduce pain and joint swelling in arthritis, and also as a mouthwash and gargle.
Elderflower blossoms can be prepared in many ways, dried or fresh, to make a delicious tea, cold infused water, wine, vinegar, elderflower cordial (syrup), added to smoothies or used in cooking, usually in desserts. As I never made a dessert with elderflower before, my creativity was tempted. I just had one tiny challenge. You know those boxes we left in the Netherlands? Well, all my kitchen equipment is carefully packed in them. I’m so glad it is. Going back to simple, fuss-free baking, I knew it had to be a free-form galette. I mean, I don’t have any baking trays, pie molds, not even a rolling pin. Just hands, an oven and a happy spirit. (I’m totally in the hippie vibe right now!)
A few notes on this recipe:
The crust is where the elderflower blossoms are hiding. Along with almond meal (I used leftovers from making almond milk) and oat flour (finely ground rolled oats) it is a sensory experience itself. Nutty, crunchy, sweet, flowery…it’s a journey! I’m sure you could use other flowers as well, so let me know if you try something else.
For the filling I used cherries we brought back from our Croatian garden. It’s their peak season and their intense sweetness with a zing of sourness complement notes of the crust astringency perfectly well. Of course, you can use any fruit you like that is in season, adding enough semolina or starch to absorb the fruit juice released during baking. ‘Cos no one likes a soggy pie… You want the crunch with the melting filling!
As we welcome the highest stretch of the sun today, honouring the summer solstice and giving our gratitude to the Mother Earth for the summer harvest, create your own ritual to remind yourself how connected and blessed we are to enjoy Nature’s offerings. Elderflower cherry galette is this year’s ritual choice of mine. 🙂
Elderflower Cherry Galette
For the crust:
- 2 cups/160 g oatmeal/oat flakes
- 1/2 cup tightly packed elderflower blossoms, stems removed, dried overnight
- 1 cup/180 g almond flour *See the notes
- 1/3 cup/60 g coconut sugar
- a small pinch of pink salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/2 cup/70 g chilled coconut oil or grass-fed organic cow’s butter
- 3-4 tablespoons ice cold water, or as needed
For the filling:
- 500 g pitted cherries, apricots, prunes, strawberries, blueberries will all work divine with this crust
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar, or more if needed
- 2 tablespoons spelt semolina, you can use arrowroot, almond flour or starch of choice to soak the cherry juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– a dollop of vanilla or elderflower ice cream (recipe coming next on the journal!), or coconut whipped cream
- Use a coffee grinder, or food processor of choice to pulverise the oat flakes and elderflower blossoms together. Mix in the almond flour, coconut sugar, salt and lemon zest, and shortly pulse again. If not using the processor, just whisk it all together by hand.
- Place the bowl in the refrigerator or shortly in the freezer. It’s important to have all the ingredients chilled and to avoid too much hand contact during the process. This will result in a delicious crispy flaky crust.
- Slice chilled coconut oil or butter on top of the flour mixture and use a fork (I chilled the fork too) to rub the oil into the flour mixture until you get a sand-like texture.
- Add one tablespoon of water at the time, and work the dough shortly, first with a fork then with your hands until the dough holds well together and doesn’t crumble. Wrap the dough into the beeswax wrap paper (consider replacing the plastic wrap foil, please) or a baking sheet, and store in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours (or up to 3 days). When in a hurry, 20 minutes in the freezer will work too!
- Prepare the filling by combining all the filling ingredients in the bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350F/Gas 4.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and place it between 2 sheets of baking paper. If the dough has been chilled for long, give it a few minutes to relax so you can work with it. Use the rolling pin (or a bottle of vodka I found in the house 🙂 ) to roll the dough out from the middle so it naturally extends outward. Once flattened, roll the dough from the centre out equally in all directions to form a smooth, thin and round dough. If it cracks, just push the dough around the crack and it will close. Discard the top sheet of paper. Transfer the dough, along with the bottom baking sheet on a baking tray.
- Spread the cherry filling evenly over the dough, leaving about 2 fingers of dough the edges. Fold the edges inward, enclosing the filling partially around the edge.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the crust is golden in colour.
- Allow the galette to cool to room temperature before slicing. Best served with a dollop of vanilla or elderflower ice cream (be generous, please!).
*How to make almond flour:
- Use the pulp leftover from making your own almond milk and place it in a pan.
- Over a low heat, slowly dehydrate the almond pulp while constantly moving it around the pan to prevent burning.
- When almond pulp has completely turned into fine powder, and there is no more moisture evaporating from the pan, remove from heat and let cool completely.
- If almond flour seems too coarse to be used in delicate desserts, such as in creams, use the coffee grinder to make it fine.
- Store in an airtight container and best is used within a few weeks as it might go rancid due to high oil content.
Vata (+) – serve with a cup of ginger or cumin tea
Pitta (-) – serve with a cup of coriander or fennel tea
Kapha (+) – reduce the sugar in the recipe and skip on ice-cream or whipped cream.