My love affair with Belvoir started a couple of years ago when they had a stand at the BBC Good Food show in Birmingham. The stand was wonderful, set out with jugs filled with all of the different flavours and little cups to try them in. As you can imagine, it was a popular stall and I stood patiently in the queue and worked my way around the flavours. Then I went around for a second time. They were delicious and I bought a few bottles, my favourite flavours and took them home.
Raspberry and lemon cordial is still my absolute favourite. Like many of the Belvoir cordials, they are delicious with ice cold still water or sparkling giving them a gentle fizz. Elderflower is a close second and it is also delicious made with hot water on chillier days. Elderflower and rose has a lovely soft flavour and honey, lemon and ginger is another one that either hot or cold brings relief on cold days when you need a boost or a refreshing cold drink.
At the moment it is all about elderflower and if you are anything like me, you will be able to smell the soft elderflower scent as the elder trees are bursting with flowers at the moment and the people at Belvoir are at their busiest harvesting the heads to make more bottles of their delicious cordial.
One thing I had never considered was baking using Belvoir and we were invited to a cookery demonstration with Belvoir and Lisa Faulkner last week. It was all very exciting and my daughter is a keen baker already and she couldn’t wait to start cooking. Lisa has been working with Belvoir on a few recipes using their cordials and you can find them on the Belvoir website. There are creative cake ideas such as elderflower, lemon and poppy seed layered cake which is a real centrepiece, or the stunning semolina and raspberry layer cake with lemon syrup and elderflower Bakewell mug cakes. Our task was to recreate one of her recipes, Madeleine Hot Air Balloons, using either the Belvoir Elderflower Cordial or the Elderflower and Rose.
I certainly have never cooked in a cookery school kitchen before and it was an amazing experience. There were quite a few bloggers and children and we each had our own station with the ingredients and the equipment we needed to create our culinary masterpieces. Making Madeleines was another first but my daughter was happy to do all the baking and loved the idea of creating hot air balloons with the cakes.
You can find the recipe here
Lisa demonstrated each stage of the process and the children followed her lead. As we worked, Lisa came around giving help and advice and was absolutely lovely with the children and chatted quite happily with everyone. Pretty soon, our mixtures were ready and in the oven and we all waited and watched as they take less than ten minutes. Pretty soon, the wonderful of Belvoir infused Madeleines filled the room and we left them to cool over lunch ready to be iced.
After lunch, we set to work decorating our Madeleines and A had great fun making patterns that she deemed fit for a very fine hot air balloon indeed. Once decorated and set, you can cleverly prop your Madeleines onto the top of a square flapjack using cocktail sticks and it creates the hot air balloon effect. Very clever and it looked amazing once all of the cakes were finished.
To finish off our lovely day, there was a quick talk about the history of Belvoir. Now in all my years of drinking Belvoir cordials and pressés, I had pronounced it Belvoir (‘belvwahr) as that is how it would be pronounced in French. Apparently not. Of course, if you know the stunning Vale of Belvoir and its castle you will know that it is pronounced ‘beever’. Named Belvoir by the Normans, meaning beautiful view, it was an apt name as the views from the castle are beautiful but over time, the non-French speaking locals changed the way it was pronounced.
We also learnt that Belvoir cordials started from humble beginnings back in 1984 when co-founder Lady Mary Manners used elderflowers handpicked from bushes growing around her garden to create the original cordial. The whole family helped to make the first batch of elderflower cordial, chopping the lemons and stirring the syrup. Lord John Manners then popped the 88 cases of drinks into the back of his car and drove around to local farm shops, persuading the owners to buy a bottle here and there.
Thirty-three years later, Belvoir still uses that original recipe to make their wonderful elderflower cordial but the range of other cordials and pressés has grown as has the amount produced. With 90 acres of orchards and over 40 drinks being made and shipped worldwide, it is a British company which deserves its success and it is lovely to see that it is still owned and run by the Manners family. The demand is so high for elderflowers that they call on the local community to help with the picking and people can help to pick from the orchards and the plentiful supply in the hedgerows. They pay for the bags of elderflowers by the kilo and there is even a prize for the ‘Biggest Bagger’, the person who brings in the most elderflower.
Elderflowers are best picked when the sun is shining and the harvest can easily be turned into home-made cordial at this time of year with a few very simple ingredients. But if like me, you don’t have the time, luckily Belvoir have a plentiful supply and I am stocked up for the summer as their cordials are the perfect drink whatever the weather and after our wonderful experience in London, my daughter and I are going to be trying some of the other mouthwatering recipes from their website too.
It was such a lovely day and we both had a thoroughly lovely day. Lisa Faulkner was there all day and chatted to everyone and my daughter loved her. We can now add Madeleines to our repertoire and my daughter is keen to make them again soon.
We were invited to London to attend the cookery class with Lisa Faulkner by Belvoir and we would love to thank them for an amazing day. All opinions in this post are our own.