Summer Trifle

This is a really light trifle. Not what you normally think of as a trifle although it uses the same ingredients. It’s very refreshing for a summer dessert and looks good too.

 

Summer Trifle

 

This very light summer trifle has a selection of seasonal fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, black and red currants, tossed in a fruit purée and surrounded with little boozy sponge fingers coated in a vanilla custard.

 

Summer Trifle
Prepares: 8 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 120ml (4 fl oz) milk (½ cup)
  • ½ vanilla pod split lengthways, OR
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 40g (1½ oz) caster/white sugar (3 tbsp + 1 tsp)
  • 10 lady fingers or sponge fingers
  • 1 tbsp sweet white wine or sherry
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) summer fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, black and red currants
  • a splash of white wine (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp caster/white sugar
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (⅔ cup)
  • 28g (1 oz) unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts, or walnuts (¼ cup)


  1. Method
  2. Chill four dessert plates in the fridge.

  3. Pour the milk in a small pan and add the vanilla pod or vanilla extract. Slowly heat on the lowest setting for 10 minutes, without boiling.

  4. Meanwhile put the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk in the sugar to make a paste.

  5. Slowly stir the milk and vanilla into the egg and sugar until the mixture is smooth. Return the custard to the pan and stir, over a low heat, until it begins to thicken. Do not let it boil. You want it to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and cool.

  6. Meanwhile, cut each sponge finger in half and lay in a shallow bowl. Drizzle over the wine or sherry.

  7. Now wash and pat dry the fruits. Remove the currants from their stalks, hull and halve the strawberries. Set aside half the berries and currants, picking out the best. Put the remainder in a food processor or blender and add the wine and sugar. Purée until smooth and then, using the back of a spoon, push through a plastic sieve to remove the pulp. Once the purée is pressed through, wipe the underside of the sieve with the spoon to get all the remaining sauce.

  8. Roughly chop the pistachio nuts or walnuts.

  9. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and then fold in the cooled custard.

  10. Now to arrange the plates. Carefully toss the reserved fruit with half the purée and spoon into the centre of each plate.

  11. Divide the sponge fingers between the plates arranging them around the edge.

  12. Pour the custard over half of each the sponge finger then sprinkle the nuts on top.

  13. Pour the remaining purée over the fruit and serve.

Updated: August 12, 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

Fairy Cakes

Fairy Cakes

 

These dainty little fairy cakes are very easy to make. The light sponge and delicate flavoured buttercream make them enjoyable to be eaten with your favourite cuppa.

 

Fairy Cakes
Prepares: 9 or 12 cakes
 
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 15–18 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the sponge
  • 140g (5 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour (1 cup)
  • 115g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 115g (4 oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

  • For the filling
  • 115g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 170g (6 oz) icing/powdered sugar (1½ cups)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • icing/powdered sugar to dust

  • Equipment
  • 12-cup bun or muffin tin lined with 9 or 12 paper baking cases. (The standard size baking cases are smaller in the U.K. and so the mixture will be enough to make 12. Being larger in North America, they will only make 9.)


  1. Method
  2. For the sponge
  3. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)

  4. Sift the flour into a bowl and put to one side.

  5. Lightly whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together in a small bowl using a balloon whisk. Again, put to one side.

  6. Now cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy using a free-standing mixer or hand-held electric mixer.

  7. Next, gradually beat in the eggs and 2 tablespoons of the flour.

  8. Fold in the remaining flour adding the milk to make a soft consistency.

  9. Spoon into the baking cases, filling them two-thirds full.

  10. Bake for 15–18 minutes until the top of the cakes spring back when lightly touched with the tip of the finger.

  11. Leave for one minute and then remove the cakes to a cooling rack to become cold.

  12. For the buttercream filling
  13. Beat the butter until it is really soft.

  14. Slowly add half the icing/powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Then beat in the remaining sugar along with the vanilla extract until soft and creamy.

  15. To finish
  16. Cut a cone from the centre of each cake using a small pointed knife held at angle. Cut each cone in half to create two wings.

  17. Next, spoon a generous portion of buttercream into each hole and carefully place each pair of ‘wings’ on top with the cut edges facing down into the buttercream.

  18. Dust with icing/powdered sugar.