Early Summer Bounties

24 June 2010

Just about when we gave up, the summer seems to have finally arrived in the UK. I was in (very) sunny Sardinia recently, and it was sad to see my tan fading since I got back… I had a great time by the way, we actually stayed on a tiny island off Sardinia with Italian friends – and did little more than sit by the ocean, and enjoy the gorgeous food.

Despite the temperamental weather until now, our fruit and veg in the allotment have been doing well. We are enjoying peas and beans at the moment as well as a continuous supply of salads. I can’t wait for the summer bounties yet to come, I really hope we can enjoy this glorious weather for a while.

Around June in the UK, you will find many elder trees blossoming – they grow literally everywhere, and I love collecting the little flowers. The delicate scent perfectly captures the essence of early English summer, and making cordial has been my yearly ritual since I moved out from London. I’ve made elderflower champagne this year (with Hugh FW recipe) – it’s now bottled and I just need to be patient for a couple more weeks to taste – I’ll report back how it turns out. I’ve bookmarked quite a few elderflower recipes this year but sadly haven’t managed to try most of them, so I’m posting this one for you to try before all the flowers are gone! (or for those who can’t get hold of fresh flowers, you can use shop-bought cordial, or even try different flower cordials.)

I was intrigued by the recipe, heather honey custard with rhubarb and elderflower, while I was watching this programme. Pairing elderflower and rhubarb is a very English affair, and the addition of heather honey sounded really lovely. We have more than enough rhubarb growing in the allotment, so it was a perfect candidate. (I’ve posted some rhubarb recipes before here and here, and an elderflower recipe here.)

The original recipe was a little fancy for a plated dessert, so I simplified it. I wasn’t entirely sure about how strong the heather honey would taste in the custard, but it balanced perfectly with the tangy rhubarb. And the flowery jelly with sparkling water lends a refreshing note. (I added freshly picked flowers to it – it is optional, but it tastes lovely and looks pretty in the crystal clear jelly :)) I absolutely loved the crunchy honeycomb on top too – it was my first time to make honeycomb and I’m hooked! I look forward to try making it with different honey, let me know if you have a favourite type :)

Oh and sincere apologies for taking so long to reply to all your comments – I promise I will soon, thank you again for all the kind notes and for being patient!


Heather honey custard with poached rhubarb and elderflower jelly

Serves 4

For the poached rhubarb
500g rhubarb, cut into 2-3cm chunks
80g caster sugar
2 tbsp water

For the heather honey custard
300ml double cream
50g heather honey
3 free-range egg yolks
10g caster sugar

For the elderflower jelly
130ml elderflower cordial (I use this recipe)
150ml sparkling water
2 gelatine leaves, soaked in cold water, drained
freshly picked elderflowers (optional)

For the honeycomb
160g caster sugar
25g heather honey
30ml water
60g glucose syrup
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the poached rhubarb, place the rhubarb, sugar and water in a saucepan and cook gently for about 5 minutes until the rhubarb is tender, but still holding its shape. Strain then leave to cool and divide into serving bowls.

For the heather honey custard, place the cream and honey in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl. Slowly pour the hot cream into the yolk mixture, stirring all the time. Place the custard into the pan, set over a low heat and cook until it coats the back of a spoon (about 15 minutes). Cool the custard and sieve into a clean bowl. Pour over each portion of rhubarb and chill in the fridge.

For the elderflower jelly, heat the elderflower cordial in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine. Cool the mixture and whisk in the sparkling water and elderflowers (if using). Transfer the jelly into a flat container (so that you can cut it easily), cover with cling film and set in the fridge.

For the honeycomb, line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Place the sugar, honey, water and glucose syrup in a saucepan and heat until it reaches 155ºC (dark amber stage). Remove from the heat and sieve the bicarbonate of soda over the surface. Carefully swirl the pan until well combined and pour onto the baking tray. Set aside to harden, then break into small pieces. Store in an airtight container.

To serve, cut the jelly into small cubes and place over the custard; sprinkle the honeycomb pieces over. Decorate with some elderflowers if you have them.

Food - Sweet    Seasons    62 comments    Permalink

  • Gorgeous looking dessert Keiko. I made honeycomb as a child and have been thinking about making it again. I shall try your recipe.

    Posted by barbara | 24 June 2010 #
  • Beautiful photos again! It is always eye-opening and refreshing to see your perspectives in photography. Our friends made strawberry rhubarb cake last month when we visited and it was delicious. The combination of sweet strawberry and tart rhubarb was impeccable. Your dessert looks mouthwatering! Perfect for a summer day.

    Posted by Kaho | 24 June 2010 #
  • What I love about your posts besides the breathtaking photos is that you are always on a quest for flavor. Always intriguing and revealing. Beautiful as always Keiko!

    Posted by Cannelle Et Vanille | 24 June 2010 #
  • your blog is GORGEOUS! I LOVE the name & skinny sidebar with photo links to articles. It’s brilliantly beautiful! I wish I had thought of it ;)

    Your photos are glorious as well …can’t say enough, clearly :)

    Posted by ...love Maegan | 24 June 2010 #
  • Delicious and very tempting recipe as usual. I too, looking forward for summer.

    Posted by elra | 24 June 2010 #
  • these pics are so delicate!

    Posted by Paula | 24 June 2010 #
  • During your absence from this space, I always miss your gorgeous photography, inspiring recipes and sweet words… but, without fail, it proves worth the wait.

    The last photo truly transports me to the English countryside: scones and syllabub, flowers swaying, sheep grazing, clouds passing, the smell of damp earth.

    Posted by Michelle Waltman | 24 June 2010 #
  • Great stuff Keiko

    These English seasonal posts are always my favourites by you. Inspiring for the ideas, recipes, the lovely crokery, cutlery and decorations and of course the photography

    Would love one day to read about some Japanese cooking and recipes… Black Cod would be fantastic. I have such fond memories of trying it Kyoto

    Posted by Paul | 24 June 2010 #
  • Finding a new post of yours is always a gift. One of the things I prefer in UK summer are gooseberries, and your picture really took my breath away.
    This recipe is very interesting – I’ll try it for sure, I have an elderflower hater to convert :)

    Posted by Caffettiera | 24 June 2010 #
  • I always look forward to your posts. Your photos are always inspirational and the entries are beautifully written.

    Posted by Marlene | 24 June 2010 #
  • Whoa. This looks amazing…

    Posted by Bbq Dude | 24 June 2010 #
  • These beautiful photos! Congratulations! Your blog is always amazing! is a pleasure to watch! See you soon by

    Posted by il ramaiolo | 24 June 2010 #
  • Nice to see you back! Love your beautiful photos and lovely recipe.

    Posted by Lina | 24 June 2010 #
  • I really miss elderflower and rhubarb I have to say – I love the combination. Great photography as usual!

    Posted by matt | 24 June 2010 #
  • This looks lovely! Readers should be warned that all parts of the elderberry tree except blossoms and berries are toxic. Even the stems could be deadly, you it must be handled with care and the leaves shouldn’t be used as garnish.

    Posted by b kinch | 25 June 2010 #
  • Hello Keiko-san
    This looks so delicate yet bold with flavor. The images transported me to an English garden luncheon :) Thank you for sharing!

    Posted by Yumi @ Natsukashii | 25 June 2010 #
  • I’m so glad you’re back. :-) Your photos are so summery and wonderful – I just love them. :-)

    Posted by Krista | 25 June 2010 #
  • It sounds delicious…but your photographs are truly what catches my eye on your blog (just beautiful). The dessert looks so light and perfectly summery…

    Posted by Joyti | 25 June 2010 #
  • ホントにホントに綺麗です。

    Posted by P57 | 26 June 2010 #
  • Delish! I love elderflower, have never tried it with rhubarb but I’m sure it makes a yummy combo. Beautiful pics and styling as always!

    Posted by Rachel Khoo | 26 June 2010 #
  • I simply love anything with rhubarb! What a wonderful recipe!


    Posted by Tiina | 27 June 2010 #
  • Lovely as always ! And I like the flavours you’ve combined here.

    Posted by Vanille | 28 June 2010 #
  • This is so beautiful, it’s definitely fit to be served at a wedding!

    Posted by joyce | 29 June 2010 #
  • Wow that dessert looks amazing!!!! So delicate and summery. If I was having posh folk round for dinner I’d defo give it a whirl – now I just need to find some! ;-)

    Posted by Katie | 29 June 2010 #
  • So lovely Keiko. I wish I could dip a spoon in the dessert!

    Posted by bea | 30 June 2010 #
  • Beautiful as always Keiko! Love your post and photos!

    Posted by Rowaida Flayhan | 30 June 2010 #
  • Sparkling water in the elderflower jelly…genius!
    Pretty pictires as usual.

    Posted by Gawking at the screen | 1 July 2010 #
  • Thanks for the post Keiko. Lovely as always. Hope you will comeback quicker on your next post! :)

    Posted by Nur Suraya | 1 July 2010 #
  • so soft and inviting…the shots are sublime. i’m fascinated with the elderflower jelly, too.

    Posted by kiss my spatula | 2 July 2010 #
  • I have just been introduced to your blog by a friend – I just wanted to say that your photo’s are amazing.

    Posted by Tracey | 2 July 2010 #
  • Hi there, I absolutely love your blog. It looks amazing and the pictures are mouth watering.

    Could you please visit my blog and tell me what you think?

    My blog’s at: www.fifideli.com

    Thank You,


    Posted by Fifi | 3 July 2010 #
  • Those elderflowers are so gorgeous – we have loads around us too, but mostly growing too near a road for comfort! Stunning photos, as always…

    Posted by Jeanne @ CookSister! | 8 July 2010 #
  • Wow, such gorgeous photos. The desert looks wonderful, cant wait to try it out myself!

    Posted by Pasan Blogs | 9 July 2010 #
  • Your posts are such gems, Keiko. Thank you. I have yet to try elderflower – I hear so much about it and yet your photos and descriptions are the ones to send me on my mission. I hope you are enjoying your summer. I also hope (truly, I do) that one day you will venture to Colorado so I can show you what summer is like here :) Then you can come in winter and we’ll go skiing. xxoo

    Posted by Jen Yu | 12 July 2010 #
  • so beautiful! oishisou~~~

    Posted by ila | 14 July 2010 #
  • Beautiful photographs. It looks to pretty to eat.

    Posted by DGrub | 16 July 2010 #
  • こんにちは。

    Posted by y_and_r_d | 18 July 2010 #
  • It looks to pretty to eat.

    Posted by eatinqueens | 19 July 2010 #
  • lots of beautiful combinations of flavours here, and i love the photos. x shayma

    Posted by shayma | 19 July 2010 #
  • I have never tried elder flowers, and now I’m curious.

    Posted by Shaheen | 20 July 2010 #
  • What a tempting dessert!!I love your photos too! Gorgeous site.

    Posted by Melanie | 23 July 2010 #
  • lovely pics..!
    keep going=)

    have a look at

    Posted by MMM | 26 July 2010 #
  • Never now about this information. And thank you for sharing.

    Posted by Kitvy | 27 July 2010 #
  • Breathtaking, all of it. Thanks for your gorgeous photos and lovely stories. Never stop!

    Posted by Valerie | 27 July 2010 #
  • Amazing photos and very delicious desert. I already tried it and Im totally satisfied. It was a littlebit of work but it was worth it. And I guess thats what cooking is about. Greetings

    Posted by catering berlin | 31 July 2010 #
  • Simply lovely as always…

    Posted by Paula | 1 August 2010 #
  • Rhubarb is so subtly sweet and delicious. Thanks for sharing your recipe and photos. I am now on a quest to find elderflower!

    Posted by nicolette | 3 August 2010 #
  • so beautiful. thank you.

    Posted by peter morgan | 3 August 2010 #
  • Keiko, I love how carefully you choose the recipe to try. Every year I miss out on elderflowers.I never know what to pick. Maybe next year.

    Posted by valentina | 10 August 2010 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    I absolutely love your food pictures. How do you find the time (and storage space) to read so many cookbooks at once? Do you have a favourite dessert recipe using powdered green tea?

    Best wishes, Emily

    Posted by Emily | 10 August 2010 #
  • Oh my.. This is lovely Heather honey custard with poached rhubarb and elderflower jelly. What a perfect way to enjoy summer. The photos are gorgeous as too. If you wont mind I’d love to guide Foodista readers to your post. Just add the foodista widget to the end of this post so it will appear in the Foodista pages and it’s all set, Thanks!

    Posted by christine | 13 August 2010 #
  • lovely pictures and recipe, thaknk you!
    by the way, that little tiny island off sardinia did not happen to be maddalena? i think maddalena and its surrounding islands must be heaven on earth…

    Posted by Marie | 18 August 2010 #
  • your blog has left me speechless!

    Posted by genny | 18 August 2010 #
  • here is so many inspirations!

    have a nice time!

    Posted by Paula | 20 August 2010 #
  • you have take my breath away.
    and transported me back to a London I had fallen in love with.

    Posted by shuna fish lydon | 21 August 2010 #
  • Wonderfully amazing pictures!! The dessert looks devine.

    Thank you.

    Bridget Davis (@bridget_cooks)
    Sydney [Australia]

    Posted by Bridget Davis (@bridget_cooks) | 23 August 2010 #
  • What lovely photos!

    Posted by Alexa @ Sohdalex | 23 August 2010 #
  • Sardinia + rhubarb jelly = me trading in my first born son.

    Excellent recipe and great photos as per usual.

    Posted by Gabriel Hummel | 30 August 2010 #
  • Once again you have the most beautiful blog and i am immensely jelous… I dont know how easy it will be for me to get elderflower in australia, but i am going on a hunt.. Thanks for your inspiration and seemingly very simple honeycomb recipe.. Keep writing!

    Posted by Kitchen Seductress | 6 September 2010 #
  • So beautifull blog and pictures… Love it !!!

    Posted by Laurent | 7 September 2010 #
  • Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. You are amazingly talented.

    Posted by Shyla Batliwalla | 9 September 2010 #
  • Oh Wow, Keiko…. How do you do it? Your photographs positively glow. They are suffused with an inner light. The images are so captivating.

    You have a gifted eye, and you are an incredible artist.

    Posted by Ron | 13 June 2011 #

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