Have you ever caught a dandelion seed as it sails through the air or grabbed a falling leaf before it settles on the floor? That’s how I feel about seasonal cooking. Some ingredients are as transient as the wind. Like the swallows of September, before you know it, they’re gone. It’s the cooks among us who can reach out and grasp them before they leave. We can create something that lasts. A meal, a memory, perhaps both.

Elderflower and gooseberries are two such ingredients we should make the most of while they’re here, and these pancakes are a lovely way to bring them together. Early summer matrimonies like this are one of the reasons I love to cook.

Looking for more elderflower recipes?

Come late spring and summer, elder trees and hedgerows are filled with the sweet scent of fragrant and delicate elderflowers. These frothy, white flowers can be collected to make delicious elderflower cordial, added to cakes or biscuits or even deep-fried to make tasty elderflower fritters. Learn more with our expert guide.

Elderflower guide: where to find it, how to identify and recipe ideas

Elder tree and flowers


  • 180g (6¼oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 50g (1¾oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 120ml (4fl oz) whole milk or oat milk
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey
  • 100g (3½oz) gooseberries
  • 4 heads of elderflower, plus extra to serve
  • A large knob of butter


  • STEP 1

    Place the flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest and half the sugar in a bowl and mix well. Crack in the egg, pour in the milk and trickle in the honey, then use a whisk to beat the mixture together thoroughly – you don’t want any lumps.

  • STEP 2

    Top and tail the gooseberries and slice them into 2–3cm (¾–1¼in) rounds. Fold the sliced fruit into the pancake batter.

  • STEP 3

    Take a couple of elderflower heads between your hands and gently rub them together. The petals should fall off the stems and into the bowl. Don’t worry if a little stalk makes its way in, this is edible too.

  • STEP 4

    Set the pan down over a medium-hot fire (or hob). Add the butter and, when it’s bubbling, pour most of the butter into the batter, then stir it through.

  • STEP 5

    Add generous, individual tablespoons of batter to the pan and cook the pancakes for 1–2 minutes, or until the underside of each pancake is golden. Then use a small spatula or knife to flip each one over and cook the other side for 1–2 minutes, or until that side is golden, too.

  • STEP 6

    Remove the cooked pancakes to a plate or board while you repeat the process with the remaining batter. To serve, trickle over the lemon juice, sprinkle with the remaining sugar and scatter over some fresh elderflowers.

This recipe was extracted from Outside: Recipes for a Wilder Way of Eating by Gill Meller. Photography by Andrew Montgomery

Outside recipe book by Gill Meller


Gill MellerChef and food writer

Gill is a chef, food writer, author, food stylist, and cookery teacher who lives and works near Lyme Regis in Dorset.