I was already having a great day. The sun was shining, the sky was a deep shade of blue. It was one of those late spring days that gives us a hint of summer and everyone in London transforms into a radiant smiling being.
I went out to stroll around the park that backs onto my flat, to soak up the sunshine on my lunch break. Breathing in those late spring-time scents, the smell drifted over me like pure happiness. Elderflowers.
One thought went through my mind. In the midst of the incessant hustle and bustle of East London, I can’t believe I have this amazing Elder tree practically on my doorstep! Then a second. What shall I make first?
I knew I was by no means the first person to want to infuse the quintessential smell of English summer into their food. But, I wanted to capture that unmistakable fragrant flavour without using refined sugar and fats.
Cue the Medieval recipe, Sambocade, a cream cheese tart and 21st century healthy, vegan know-how.
I turned to my favourite vegan, raw foods recipe guru, Emily von Euw (This Rawsome Vegan Life) for healthy, vegan cheesecake inspiration and used her Lavender & Lemon Cheesecake as a basis for my Vegan Samocade.
First things first, the recipe calls for dried elderflowers. So get yourself outside, follow your nose and forage for elderflowers. The best time to pick them is in the heat of the day and remember that the pollen holds the flavour so gather flower heads with the most pollen on them and don’t wash them. I always avoid foraging from roadsides, so try a local park or common for elderflowers sans pollution.
- Tie the stems of around 5 flower heads tightly together .
- Hang the flower heads upside down within a paper bag in a warm dry place for a few days.
Elderflower Cheesecake (Vegan Sambocade)
If waiting for your Elderflowers to dry wasn’t enough, you also need to soak the cashews and almonds for this recipe. Soak them in water for least at 4 hours, I tend to soak them overnight, ready to use the next day. It is worth the effort though, this cheesecake is delicious!
50g almonds, soaked
150g dates (if not using medjool, soak for around 30mins to soften)
Pinch of himalayan salt
350g raw cashews, soaked
150ml coconut oil, melted
Juice of 1 lemon
2tbsp dried elderflower
2tbsp rose water
2tbsp pure maple syrup
Pinch of himalayan salt
- Begin by making the base. In a large, dry frying pan gently toast the hazelnuts on a medium-high heat, for around 5-10mins until the skins begin to darken and peel away. Shake the pan from time to time to prevent burning.
- Wrap the hazelnuts in a clean cloth and rub vigorously to remove most of the skins.
- Rinse the soaked almonds in fresh water and combine in a blender with the hazelnuts, dates and salt. The mixture should start to come together in firm, sticky clumps.
- Press the base mixture firmly down into a non-stick 20cm springform cake tin (preferably a PFOA, PTFE and BPA chemical free non-stick pan).
- Set in the fridge whilst you prepare the topping.
- Rinse the cashews and put in a high-speed blender along with the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Spoon the mixture onto the base and spread out evenly.
- Set in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
- Gently release the springform pan and ease the cheesecake away from the base.
- Carefully place the cheesecake onto your prettiest vintage plate, garnish with more freshly picked elderflowers, invite your friends over and serve.
FYI: The botanical name for the Elder tree is Sambucus Nigra.