Dish of the Day: Crystallising spring flowers
Despite recent temperatures suggesting otherwise spring is finally upon us; the first lovely pink crop of forced rhubarb has been and gone and the early edible Spring flowers are in full bloom. Since ‘unpredictable weather’ is the new ‘weather’, I defy taking any chances that they won’t all be prematurely snuffed out, so with that in mind I spent much of this week crystallising them.
If done carefully enough (it can be painstaking work, though the kind many bakers enjoy, myself included) they will last up to a year. Store them airtight in a cool place and make sure they are fully sugar coated.
Having said that, you can and should use them fresh; in salads or as floral decoration for your cakes, or bake them into the top of sugar cookies. We had them guest starring on our pastries in the bakery last week (below).
Some lovely edible flowers out now include:
Viola and Cultivated/wild primrose
Per Handful of edible flowers:
1–2 egg whites, loosened with a few drops of water (approximately 4 drops per white)
Small bowl of caster sugar
One baking tray, lined
Fine, clean paintbrush, not used for anything besides food
1. Clip the flower stems as close to the base as possible and snip away the sepals (the green pockets on the back of the flower). Place a flower on your prepared tray and use the paintbrush to coat with the egg white, making sure you are thorough. Brush away any excess egg white. Hold the flower by what’s left of the stem over the sugar bowl and sprinkle generously with sugar. Turn it over and shake gently to release any excess sugar.
2. Do the same for the back of the flower, making sure the entire flower is coated. Place it face up on the baking tray. Repeat with the other flowers, and when you are done, put them in a cool, dry, dark place overnight or until the flowers feel crisp to the touch. Store them in an airtight container.
Lily is also running the world’s first agony aunt baking column: “Recovering from a Bad Bake-up”. Send in your baking disaster stories of unexpected failures in the kitchen/recurring problems to email@example.com
On the third Friday of the month we will feature a Q&A with advice to help you recover.
Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth is available from Cannongate books, 2012
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For more information visit lilyvanilli.com
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