Strawberry Tartlets

Strawberry Tartlets

 

Strawberry tartlets always say summer to me. These are very light and have a sweet, crisp pastry base which is filled with a creamy custard filling and topped with glazed strawberries. Mmm…just perfect!

 

Strawberry Tartlets
Prepares: 4 tartlets
 
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Chilling time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 15minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the sweet pastry
  • 2 eggs, yolks only
  • 55g (2 oz) softened butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 55g (2 oz) caster/white sugar (¼ cup)
  • 115g (4oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour (⅔ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • few drops vanilla extract

  • For the filling
  • Bird’s Custard Powder
  • 120ml (4 fl oz) full fat/whole milk (½ cup)
  • 285g (12 oz) small strawberries, washed and hulled (about 2 cups)
  • 120ml (4 fl oz) whipping cream/double or heavy cream (½ cup)
  • 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly

  • You will also need 4 x 10cm (4 inch) tartlet tins.


  1. Method
  2. For the sweet pastry
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl cream together the egg yolks, butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth.

  4. Sift the flour and add to the bowl. Now mix to from a firm dough.

  5. Turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Then wrap in a plastic food bag and rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

  6. Roll out the pastry thinly and then cut rounds 3.8cm (1½ inches) larger than the tartlet tin, re-rolling the pastry until there are 4 rounds. (Rolling it between two large sheets of cling film/wrap that have been dusted with flour will prevent the pastry sticking to the rolling pin.) Line the tartlet tins, pressing the pastry gently down into the edges of the tins. Now roll the rolling pin over the top of each tin to remove the excess pastry. Prick the base, using the tines of a fork, to allow air trapped underneath to escape and chill again while the oven is heating up.

  7. Heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).

  8. Line the pastry with parchment paper and baking beans, then bake for 10 minutes.

  9. Remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for about 5 minutes until lightly golden and crisp. Leave to cool, then remove from the tins.

  10. For the filling
  11. Meanwhile make up the custard according to the directions on the packet using 120ml (4 fl oz) (½ cup) milk. (You want a thick custard). Transfer to a bowl and cover the surface of the custard with cling film/wrap to prevent it forming a skin. Leave to become cold.

  12. Now whip the cream until stiff. Then whip the cold custard to loosen it and fold in the whipped cream until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the tart cases and level the tops.

  13. Decorate with the strawberries, cutting them, if necessary, into halves or quarters depending on their size.

  14. Add a little boiling water the jelly (about 1 teaspoon). Stir to melt the jelly and then brush over the strawberries to glaze.

Updated: August 17, 2018

Raspberry Trifle

Raspberry Trifle

 

Frozen raspberries are used in this light, creamy trifle. Raspberry filled sponges are soaked in sherry and then topped with raspberries and covered in a creamy custard before decorating with dollops of whipped cream and crushed biscuits.

 

Raspberry Trifle
Prepares: 8 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Standing time: 30 minutes
  • Refrigeration time: At least 30 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
  • 115g (4 oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) milk (1¼ cups)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 trifle sponges or 1 packet lady fingers
  • 4 tbsp raspberry conserve or jam
  • 50ml (2 fl oz) sherry or framboise (¼ cup)
  • 340g (12 oz) frozen raspberries (1½ cups), thawed
  • 360ml (12 fl oz) double/whipping or heavy cream (1½ cups)
  • 3 ratafias or amaretti biscuits

  • You will also need a large flat bottomed glass dish or 8 individual glass dessert dishes.


  1. Method
  2. Pour the milk into a pan.

  3. Put the egg yolks, sugar, and cornflour in a bowl and take 2 tablespoons of milk from the pan. Whisk until blended and pale in colour, 2–3 minutes. Set aside.

  4. Stir the vanilla into the milk in the pan and bring to the boil. Then slowly pour the milk onto the egg mixture, stirring constantly. When smooth, pour the mixture back into a clean pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring until it starts to thicken, about 3 minutes.

  5. Pour into a bowl and cover the surface of the custard with cling film to prevent it forming a skin. Leave for 30 minutes to cool.

  6. Meanwhile, slice the trifle sponges or lady fingers in half and spread one half with the raspberry conserve or jam. Sandwich back together. Arrange in a single layer over the bottom of the glass dish or individual dishes.

  7. Drizzle the sherry or framboise over the sponges.

  8. Now scatter the raspberries on top.

  9. Whisk 150ml (5 fl oz) (⅔ cup) of the cream until thick. Using a balloon whisk, whisk the custard to loosen it a little and then whisk in the cream until combined. Pour over the raspberries.

  10. Whisk the remaining cream until soft peaks form. Now, to decorate the top, put dollops of cream around the edge of the trifle in the large glass dish or spoon one dollop on top of the trifle in the individual glass dishes. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

  11. Crush the biscuits into small pieces. Just before serving, sprinkle them over the cream.

  12. Note
  13. If a smaller number or servings are needed, just reduce the quantity of ingredients appropriately and use individual glass dishes.

Updated: August 1, 2018

Classic Crème Brûlée

Classic Crème Brûlée

 

These crème brûlées are so creamy they make just the perfect dessert. Egg yolks, sugar and cream flavoured with vanilla make the creamy custard, and it’s topped with brittle caramel.

I have shared two methods for creating the caramelized topping, one using a chef’s blowtorch and the other using the grill/broiler.

 

Classic Crème Brûlée
Prepares: 6 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 25–40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes
  • Cooling time: 2 hours
  • Refrigeration time: 6 hours or overnight, plus 2 hours on day of serving


  • Ingredients
  • For the custard
  • butter, for greasing
  • 
4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
  • 
40g (1½ oz) caster sugar/white sugar (3 tbsp)
  • 
½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) single/half and half cream (1¼ cups)
  • 
300ml (10 fl oz) double/whipping or heavy cream (1¼ cups)

  • For the topping

  • 4–6 tbsp golden caster/white sugar, if using a chef’s blowtorch
  • 100g (3½ oz) caster sugar/white sugar (½ cup), if not using a chef’s blowtorch

  • You will also need 6 x 150ml (5 fl oz) (⅔ cup) heatproof ramekins


  1. Method
  2. For the custard
  3. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) gas 3.

  4. Lightly grease ramekins with butter and put to one side.

  5. Boil a kettle of water. Meanwhile, line a deep-sided ovenproof dish or small roasting tin/pan with a layer of kitchen paper and sit the six ramekins on the paper (the paper prevents the ramekins from slipping).

  6. Next pour both creams into a pan and heat until scalding. Remove from the heat and cool a little.

  7. While the cream is cooling, put the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract into a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  8. Then gradually pour the cream into the bowl, while whisking at the same time, until the cream is blended into the egg mixture. Strain the custard into a jug and then divide between the six ramekins.

  9. Carefully pour enough of the boiling water into the ovenproof dish or roasting tin/pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

  10. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes as the custard still needs to have a slight wobble to it. Remove the dish from the oven and leave the ramekins in the water until the water has cooled.

  11. Now take the ramekin dishes out of the water, cover them and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

  12. For the topping, using a chef’s blowtorch
  13. Sprinkle 2–3 teaspoons of sugar evenly over the custard in each ramekin. The sugar needs to cover the custard completely.

  14. Caramelize the sugar under a direct flame.

  15. Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.

  16. For the topping, without using a chef’s blowtorch
  17. First, have a piece of parchment paper ready on the counter top. Next, put the sugar in a stainless steel pan and add just enough water to dampen the sugar. Place over a low heat and stir the sugar until completely dissolved. Then increase the heat to medium–high. Without stirring, leave the sugar to bubble fiercely. When the bubbling lessens and the sugar has turned a pale straw colour, it will be ready. Carefully, pour the caramel onto the paper (it will be extremely hot) and leave it to become cold.

  18. Now turn on the grill/broiler to high and leave for 5 minutes to become really hot.

  19. The caramel will have hardened on cooling. Break it into small pieces and blitz in a food processor or blender until there are really fine granules (finer than caster sugar). Sprinkle evenly over the custard in each ramekin, right to the edge, so that the custard is completely covered.

  20. Put the ramekins on a baking tray and place under the heat source as close as possible. Cook for less than a minute, not letting the sugar burn. The heat just needs to melt the sugar.

  21. Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.

Updated: July 29, 2018

Coffee Crème Brûlée

Coffee Crème Brûlée

 

Coffee crème brûlée – a lovely creamy coffee custard topped with caramelized sugar. This recipe gives two methods of creating the caramelized topping, with or without using a chef’s blowtorch.

 

Coffee Crème Brûlée
Prepares: 6 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 30–45 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes
  • Cooling time: 2 hours
  • Refrigeration time: 6 hours or overnight, plus 2 hours on the day of serving


  • Ingredients
  • For the custard
  • butter, for greasing
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
  • 
40g (1½ oz) caster/white sugar (3 tbsp)
  • 
½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) single cream/half and half cream (1¼ cups)

  • 300ml (10 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1¼ cups)
  • 
3 tsp instant coffee granules or coffee essence

  • For the topping
  • 4 tbsp golden caster/white sugar, if using a chef’s blowtorch
  • 100g (3½ oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup), if not using a chef’s blowtorch

  • You will also need 6 x 150ml (5 fl oz) heatproof ramekins


  1. Method
  2. For the custard
  3. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) (gas 3).

  4. Lightly grease the ramekins with butter and set to one side.

  5. Boil a kettle of water. Meanwhile, line a deep-sided ovenproof dish or roasting tin/pan with a layer of kitchen paper and sit the six ramekins on the paper (this prevents them from slipping).

  6. Next pour both creams into a pan and heat until scalding. Remove from the heat and add the coffee granules stirring until dissolved, or just stir in the coffee essence. Leave to cool a little.

  7. While the cream is cooling, put the egg yolks and sugar into a large bowl and whisk together.

  8. Then gradually pour the cream into the bowl, while whisking at the same time, until the cream is blended into the egg mixture. Strain the custard into a jug and then divide between the six ramekins.

  9. Carefully pour enough of the boiling water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

  10. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes as the custard still needs to have a slight wobble to it. Remove the dish from the oven and leave the ramekins in the water until the water has cooled.

  11. Now take the ramekins out of the water, cover them and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

  12. For the topping, using a chef’s blowtorch
  13. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar evenly over the custard in each ramekin, right to the edge, so that the custard is completely covered.

  14. Caramelize the sugar under a direct flame.

  15. Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.

  16. For the topping, without using a chef’s blowtorch
  17. First, have a piece of parchment paper ready on the counter top. Next, put the sugar in a stainless steel pan and add just enough water to dampen the sugar. Place over a low heat and stir the sugar until completely dissolved. Then increase the heat to medium–high. Without stirring, leave the sugar to bubble fiercely. When the bubbling lessens and the sugar has turned a pale straw colour it will be ready. Carefully, pour the caramel onto the paper (it will be extremely hot) and leave it to become cold.

  18. Now turn the grill/broiler to high and leave for 5 minutes to get really hot.

  19. The caramel will have hardened on cooling. Break it into small pieces and blitz in a food processor or blender until there are really fine granules (finer than caster sugar). Sprinkle evenly over the custard in each ramekin, right to the edge, so that the custard is completely covered.

  20. Put the ramekins on a baking tray as close to the heat as possible. Cook for less than a minute, not letting the sugar burn. The heat just needs to melt the sugar.

  21. Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.

Updated: May 31, 2018

Sweet Berry Trifle

Sweet Berry Trifle

 

A sweet trifle with frozen mixed berries to create a light dessert that goes down so easily. The sponge is soaked in a fruity, sherry syrup, topped with the summer berries, a rich creamy custard and finished with flavoured whipped cream.

 

Sweet Berry Trifle
Prepares: 8 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Standing time: 10 minutes
  • Refrigeration time: 1 hour 50 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 6 sponge trifles or 1 packet lady fingers
  • 4 tbsp raspberry jam
  • 340g (12 oz) frozen summer fruits/frozen mixed berries, thawed (2 cups)
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup*
  • 4 tbsp sherry

  • For the custard
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) full-fat/whole milk (1¼ cups)
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1¼ cups)
  • 3 egg yolks, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.)
  • 85g (3 oz) caster sugar/white sugar (½ cup less 1 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch

  • For the topping
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1¼ cups)
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup*
  • 1 tbsp sherry

  • *runny honey can be substituted for golden syrup

  • Equipment
  • Large, flat-bottomed glass bowl (trifle bowl) or 8 individual flat-bottomed, glass dishes


  1. Method
  2. Slice the trifle sponges or lady fingers in half and sandwich back together with the raspberry jam. Cut the sponges into large chunks and put in the bottom of the trifle bowl, or divide between the individual dishes.

  3. Drain the fruit, reserving the juice, and layer over the sponge.

  4. Make up the reserved juice to 120ml (4 fl oz) (½ cup) with boiling water and add the golden syrup and sherry. Stir well to combine and then spoon evenly over the fruit and sponge to moisten.

  5. For the custard
  6. Pour the milk, cream and the vanilla extract into a pan and heat until bubbling around the edges. Put to one side. Next, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, caster sugar and cornflour until smooth. Then gradually whisk in the hot milk mixture. Return the custard to the pan, bring to the boil, then gently simmer for 2–3 minutes, whisking constantly, until the custard has thickened. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

  7. Slowly pour the custard in an even layer over the fruit, then chill for 20 minutes, until the custard is cool and just beginning to set.

  8. For the topping
  9. Whip the cream with the golden syrup and sherry until it starts to hold its shape. Then spoon over the custard.

  10. Return to the fridge to chill for 1 hour 30 minutes before serving.

Updated: November 7, 2017

Bread and Butter Pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding

 

A traditional English dessert where bread is buttered, then topped with a sprinkling of dried fruits, and then covered with a vanilla custard before topping with cinnamon and demerara sugar. It is then baked until the top is lovely and crispy.

 

Bread and Butter Pudding
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Standing time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 45 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 28g (1 oz) softened butter (2 tbsp)
  • 2 slices white bread
  • 2 tbsp currants
  • 2 tbsp sultanas
  • 2 tsp chopped mixed peel
  • 3 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.)
  • 1 tbsp caster/white sugar
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) full-fat/whole milk (1¼ cups)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar

  • Equipment
  • 23 × 12cm (9 × 5 inch) shallow ovenproof dish


  1. Method
  2. Butter the bread and cut each slice into quarters.

  3. With the buttered sides uppermost, lay the quarters in the bottom of the ovenproof dish, overlapping them to fit.

  4. Scatter the currants, sultanas and mixed peel on top.

  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together two of the eggs and the yolk only of the third. Whisk in the sugar and then stir in the milk and vanilla extract until combined.

  6. Strain the custard and gently pour over the bread.

  7. Sprinkle the top with the cinnamon and demerara sugar, and then leave for 30 minutes.

  8. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)

  9. Put the dish into a roasting tin/pan and then fill the roasting tin/pan with boiling water until it comes half-way up the sides of the dish. Bake for 45 minutes until the custard is set and the top is brown and crispy.

 

Baked Custard with Fruit Compote

 

Baked Custard with Fruit Compote

 

 

A delicious light dessert of silky baked custard served with a compote of plums, strawberries and blueberries.

 

Baked Custard with Fruit Compote
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Refrigeration time: 24 hours
  • Cooking time: 50 minutes
  • Standing time: 20–30 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the fruit compote
  • 85g (3 oz) sugar (½ cup less 1 tbsp)
  • 170g (6 oz) plums (about 4)
  • 170g (6 oz) strawberries, hulled and halved (⅞ cup)
  • 170g (6 oz) blueberries (1 cup)

  • For the custard
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) whole/full fat milk (⅔ cup)
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) single cream/table cream (⅔ cup)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 28g (1 oz) caster/white sugar (2 tbsp)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

  • To serve
  • Single cream/table cream

  • Equipment
  • a shallow ovenproof dish with a capacity of 600ml (20 fl oz) (3 cups)
  • a small roasting tin/pan


  1. Method
  2. For the fruit compote
  3. Wash the plums, halve and remove the stones. Pour 300ml (10 fl oz) of water into a pan, add the sugar and stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the syrup-water to a simmer and add the plums. Cook for one minute. Remove from the heat, cover and leave for 10–15 minutes until the fruit has softened but still keeps its shape.

  4. Meanwhile, wash the berries, hull and halve the strawberries. Add them to the plums and stir to distribute the fruit. Transfer the fruit to a serving dish, cover and chill for 24 hours.

  5. For the custard
  6. The next day prepare the custard.

  7. Heat the oven to 170°C (325°F) (gas 3)

  8. Pour the milk and cream into a mixing bowl and add the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine and then strain the custard into the ovenproof dish.

  9. Pour the custard into the ovenproof dish and place this in the roasting tin/pan. Then slowly pour cold water into the roasting tin/pan to a depth of at least 2.5cm (1 inch). Carefully slide onto the middle rack in the oven and bake the custard for 50 minutes until it is set but still has a slight wobble in the centre when gently moved. It will also have an attractive golden skin. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20–30 minutes.

  10. To serve
  11. Remove the fruit compote from the fridge to bring it to room temperature.

  12. Divide the custard between four dessert dishes and then spoon the compote around. Cream can also be poured over for a little bit of extra indulgence.

 

Easy Summer Trifle

Easy Summer Trifle

 

A very refreshing summer trifle with fresh raspberries and strawberries, that is very quick and easy to prepare.

 

Easy Summer Trifle
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Standing time: about 15 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 1 pkt. sponge fingers, lady fingers or trifle sponges
  • 4 tbsp raspberry conserve
  • 115g (4 oz) strawberries (about ⅓ of a pint container)
  • 115g (4 oz) raspberries
  • 2 tbsp sherry
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) Bird’s custard (1 cup)
  • 120ml (4 fl oz) double cream/whipping cream (½ cup)

  • Equipment
  • 4 glass dessert dishes


  1. Method
  2. Break enough of the sponges to fit the base of each dish.

  3. Spoon 1 tablespoon of raspberry conserve on top of the sponge and level.

  4. Reserve 4 raspberries and 4 strawberries for decoration. Equally divide the rest of the fruit between the four dishes, cutting the strawberries in half.

  5. Now sprinkle ½ tablespoon of sherry over the fruit in each dish and leave while preparing the custard so the sherry can be absorbed by the fruit and sponge. At this stage it can be left for up to an hour.

  6. Make up 1 cup of Bird’s custard according to the packet. Pour into a small jug and cover the custard with clingfilm so it does not form a skin. Leave until just cold. (I usually like to make my custard from scratch but, hey, this is supposed to be an easy, summer recipe! You could even buy a carton of ready-made custard.)

  7. Divide the custard between the four dishes.

  8. Whip up the cream until soft peaks form and put a dollop on top of the custard.

  9. Half the reserved strawberries and decorate each dish with two strawberry halves and a raspberry.

  10. Serve.