Eating French Flowers in May- Acacia Blossom Fritters
That night image of Camont, stars hanging overhead and a warm golden glow from an empty bedroom, lacks one thing. Scent. I needed a perfume atomizer to send to each viewer. One filled with a soft sweet smell of Acacia trees heavy with white blossoms swaying in the night breeze like so many small silver thuribles diffusing their May incense.
The old custom of making a sweet blossom fritter dredged in sugar or drizzled with acacia honey is yet another way of creating a living calendar. Eating flowers in May is the festive beginning of the Deep Spring Season. Acacias and elderflowers appear at the same time; roses are next, and the violas and pansies that nod little heads are delicate colored memories of winter.
I dreamt of the first time I witnessed my old acacia trees abuzz with a floating hive and Vétou taught me to make her ultra-light batter first. And then which bunches of tightly closed blossoms to gather—those that still contained their nectar still hidden from the bees. These are golden fried bunches of flowers eaten off the stems like grapes; a rustic celebration of something special before the fruit arrives.
Now, after a week of French pastry at Camont with Molly Wilkinson, I jumped to a new version of this classic country treat— a small cloud-like fritter made with an eggy batter that would bind a handful of blossoms and allow us to fill it with some floral scented chantilly or slightly sweetened whipped cream. Like a classic Pet de Nonne, these became floral puffs made with a pâte à choux recipe from Molly Wilkinson’s Art of French Pastry workshops at Camont. This batch makes a fat dozen small but delicious bites.
Acacia Blossom Fritters
65 ml water
65 ml milk
50 gr butter
5 gr sugar
1 gr salt
75 g all purpose flour (T55)
100-125 g whole eggs (2-3 eggs)
handful of edible acacia blossoms- stems removed
frying oil- 1-2 inch deep
some acacia honey
In a saucepan, add the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt. Measure the flour. Heat the liquid ingredients over a low heat until just simmering and the butter melts.
Take off the heat and add all the flour at once. stir with a wooden spoon until the dough pulls together. Put back on heat and stir continuously for 1-2 minutes until the dough pulls away from the side. transfer to a mixing bowl. mix until the dough starts to cool- and is no longer steaming.
Add the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. When ready, check the dough by seeing how it falls from the spoon. It should be silky smooth and fall in a point. Stir in a handful of closed acacia blossoms; the nectar is still inside the flower.
Heat the oil in a wok or a deep pan to 170-180’C. Drop batter in the hot oil by a tablespoon and cook until golden brown and cooked through. Don’t rush them. The inside will be soft and airy. Drain on a paper towel and then drizzle with acacia honey and powdered sugar.
Serve warm and with a glass of elderflower soda. Another Spring treat!