March brings with it the start of Spring, the end of Lent, and a glimmer of warmer days to come. Few sights herald the demise of winter more beautifully than pearly pink cherry blossom, which is in full bloom in early March. Found in urban and rural gardens alike, these pretty blooms often linger well into April.
While cherry fruits do not ripen until high summer – if at all, in British soil – the blossom from the tree has a subtle, fragrant flavour which is perfect for baking. Plum blossom, though harder to find, can also be used in this recipe.
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150ml whole milk
3 large branches of cherry blossom
75g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
300ml double cream
150g morello cherries, chopped
Begin by preparing the cherry blossom. Remove all of the blossom petals from their stems, and place in a sieve. Gently rinse with water to clean them, then turn out onto kitchen towelling and allow them to dry. Add them to your milk, and leave to infuse overnight in the fridge.
The next day, add the sugar, milk and petals to a small saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove it from the heat when it has just started to bubble.
Place your egg yolks in a large, heatproof bowl. Pour a little of the milk over them and whisk to temper, then pour all of the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the milk. Return this to the heat, and stir continuously so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom while it is thickening. Continue until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
Strain the mixture to remove the blossom petals, then chill for one hour or until it has come down to room temperature. Churn in an ice cream maker or, if you do not have one, you can churn it yourself by taking it from the freezer once an hour and churning it by hand. Once churned by soft, add the chopped cherries, then allow to freeze until set.
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