From early May in Scotland, elderflower starts to bloom. The jewel in the forager’s crown, it’s a key moment in the culinary and horticultural calendar which signals that summer is here and the great outdoors has well and truly burst back into life!

The sprays of tiny white flowers come from the elder tree and have an alluringly sweet smell. It grows in abundance here in Perthshire and across the UK, in countryside lanes, woods and hedgerows, and is easy to pick straight from the tree on your Sunday walk so it’s a great place to start if you’re a novice at foraging. The elder tree actually has so much to give, as it yields a double crop, with elderberries being a valuable addition to the kitchen in late summer and early autumn – but you need to get in quick before the birds beat you to it!

I had always known about elderflower’s use as an ingredient, but it wasn’t until I discovered it growing in my allotment that I really took the time to understand it and explore its versatility. In addition to cooking, many believe the flowers also have medicinal and healing properties and they’ve been used in home remedies for the common cold for centuries.

Elderflower only flower within a two or three-week window, but it travels up the country – once the season is finished in England, it’s blossoming here in Scotland – so chefs have about six weeks in the year to make the most of this classic British ingredient.

You need to be quick to forage your fresh crop, but once you’ve harvested it you can relax, because you can preserve it to last through the summer season, in syrup, cordial or pickles, sorbets and ice-cream.

This recipe is simply bursting with freshness – it’s a love song to the start of summer if you like – and is a true British combination of flavours. The elderflower has a zappy acidic note but also floral tones which are a match made in heaven for lemon and citrus flavours. The floral notes of the vanilla bring a luxurious feel and complement the elderflower’s floral aromas.

It’s a sweet pastry tart filled with a lemon Pain de Gênes, made with marzipan, eggs and melted butter. We build on top of that with a lemon and mascarpone mousse. Lemon is a very bold flavour but elderflower is robust enough to hold its own and bring a subtle romance to the dish.

We’re serving a miniature version of it in our afternoon tea, and we’ve also scaled it up to serve as a special in our Birnam Brasserie this season. We are also going to be serving it as part of a decedent seasonal afternoon tea at our Glorious Garden Party on the 1st of June – a celebration of everything that’s great about summer.

To find out more about Gleneagles or the Glorious Garden Party, visit

Makes one 26cm tart

For the sweet pastry:

180g unsalted butter

110g icing sugar

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

35g ground almonds

2.5g salt

300g plain flour

For the Pain De Gene tart filling:

150g marzipan

15g lemon juice

1 lemon zest

1 vanilla pod, seeds removed

30g unsalted butter, melted

1 egg yolk

1 whole egg

1g baking powder

15g plain flour

100g elderflower cordial, slightly warmed

For the lemon and lime curd:

200g lemon juice

1 lemon, zest only

1 lime, zest only

8 eggs

140g caster sugar

125g unsalted butter

Vanilla mascarpone mousse:

125g mascarpone

65g double cream

60g egg yolks

35g caster sugar

4g gelatine, dissolved in water as per the instructions on the pack

190g whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks

1 vanilla pod, seeds removed

To serve:

Lemon thyme

Silver leaf

Chocolate (optional)


1. First, make the sweet pastry. In an electric stand mixer, using the paddle, cream the butter with 75g of icing sugar. Add the egg and egg yolk slowly then add the remaining icing sugar, ground almonds, salt and flour and mix to form a smooth dough. Cover the dough and allow to rest 2 to 3 hours in the fridge.

2. Once the dough has rested, roll the dough to 3.5mm and line your tart ring with the pastry. Set aside for later, ideally in the fridge.

3. Next, make the Pain De Gene. In an electric stand mixer and using the paddle, mix the marzipan with the lemon juice, zest and vanilla seeds. Very gradually add in the egg yolk and whole egg. Beat continuously for a further five minutes, then add the melted butter. Once the butter has combined, fold in the dry ingredients. Pour the mixture into the lined tart and bake at 170°C for 15 to 20 minutes. Once the tart has baked, remove it from the oven and soak the sponge with warm elderflower cordial.

4. To make the lemon and lime curd, start by reducing the lemon juice and zests in a pan by half. Once the liquid has reduced, add the sugar and eggs and cook over moderate heat, whisking continuously until the mixture reaches 82°C. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and then emulsify the butter using a hand blender. Once the butter has combined, place the curd in the fridge to set.

5. Next, make the vanilla mascarpone mousse. Make a crème Analgise with the mascarpone, double cream, egg yolks and the caster sugar, cooking the mixture until it reaches 82°C. Add the gelatine and mix until fully dissolved and then cool over an iced Bain Marie. Once cooled, fold in the cream and the vanilla seeds. Set the mouse aside to allow it to stiffen, ready for piping.

6. To assemble the dish, place the tart shell on the serving plate and secure with a bit of lemon curd. Pipe or place the lemon curd and vanilla mouse onto the tart in your desired design. Garnish with lemon thyme and silver leaf. Finally, finish with chocolate or if you prefer, just serve.