Category Archives: Dessert

Plum Upside Down Cake

Plum upside down cake

I have recently been the grateful recipient of a large quantity of Damson Plums thanks to the generosity of nature and my friend Gloria Nicol. Some of these plums have been turned into Damson Vodka, others were made into Gloria’s recipe for Dumpsideary Jam from her book 100 Jams, Jellies, Preserves and Pickles. But the first thing I did was turn some of these plums – super soft, ripe and sweet – into a cake.

Plum upside down cake

I was inspired by my friend (and pastry chef) Kathy (aka stresscake) to go for an upside down cake. She did something very similar with her plums last August and aptly pointed out that a recipe like this will help you get through a pound and a half or so of plums in an extremely delicious way (very handy if you have a lot of plums to get through).

Damson Plums

Upside down cakes are really easy to make, but usually the reserve for pineapples (and if you’re going that route, Kathy’s got a classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe, too). Plums offer a nice twist on this, with a hint of spice in the cake complimenting the autumnal plums. If you don’t have a cake pan that is large enough to fit all of the batter called for in this recipe, you can make smaller mini upside down cakes in ramekins which are really fun.

Plum upside down cake

I really love this plum upside down cake served with creme fraiche or Greek yogurt, but vanilla ice cream or whipped cream would go equally well.

Plum Upside Down Cake

For the plum layer

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 12-15 damsons (or other plum), halved and pitted
  • Blackberries or blueberries (optional)

For the cake

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup milk

To serve

  • Whipped cream, creme fraiche or ice cream


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F. Put 4 Tbsp of butter in a 9-inch-diameter skillet or cake pan. Put the pan in the oven and leave it until the butter has melted. Remove the pan and swirl the butter around so its distributed evenly. Sprinkle over 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Lay the plums on top of the sugar in a single, tightly-packed layer, skin-side up. If you’d like, fill in any gaps with blackberries or blueberries.
  2. Now make the batter. Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Beat the remaining 6 Tbsp butter in large bowl with an electric mixer until light. Add sugar and beat until creamy. Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and almond extract.
  3. Add the milk and the dry ingredients to the mixture and mix with a spatula just until blended. Spoon batter evenly over plums. Bake  until golden and a toothpick or knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (this will take about 50-60 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack; cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Using a knife, cut around the pan sides to loosen the cake. Place a plate on top of the cake pan then invert the cake. Let it stand with the pan still on for 5 minutes, then gently lift off the pan. Serve cake warm with whipped cream, creme fraiche or ice cream.

Plum upside down cake

Raw Double Chocolate Brownies

Raw Vegan Brownies

Here is a brownie that ticks all the right boxes – raw, vegan, gluten-free, paleo… – and they taste delicious too. The classic raw brownie is made by blitzing dates, nuts and cocoa in a food processor and mushing the mix together into a ball or bar. Though tasty, those raw brownies are also very dense and usually very sweet because it takes a lot of dates to hold the mixture together. These raw brownies are a slightly different breed. Made with coconut flour, ground almonds and apple puree, they have a texture that’s much more like a traditional brownie.

I was inspired to make these by Emma Potts of Coconut & Berries who posted a recipe for Raw Berry Cream Brownies which totally got my attention. I used a similar method for the brownie base, but instead of a berry cream topping, I went for chocolate ganache – it was a double chocolate kind of day.

This recipe uses cacao powder, which you can readily buy at health food shops or online. I make my own cacao powder from Naturya Cacao Nibs which I blitz to a powder in my blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9400 which has a jug specially made for grinding dry ingredients). You could do the same to make almond flour, too.

Raw Vegan Brownies

Alternatively, if you’re not fussed about the raw aspect, you can use regular cocoa powder (cocoa powder is made by roasting cacao at high temperatures, which destroys some of the enzymes, and makes it no longer raw – snap!).

Another bonus to these brownies is they give me an opportunity to use my retro vintage nut grinder! Perfect for sprinkling walnuts on top of the brownies! (Of course, you could just use a knife and a cutting board instead.)

Raw Vegan Brownies

Raw Double Chocolate Brownies 

Makes 6 brownies.

For the brownies:

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-4 Tbsp maple syrup or agave (add more or less depending on how sweet you like your brownies)
  • 1/3 cup apple puree or mashed banana
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder if you aren’t worried about the raw thing)
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds or almond flour
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • pinch of salt

For the ganache:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar (or other liquid sweetener of choice)
  • small pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Line a small baking tin or container with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all of the brownie ingredients together with your hands or in a food processor. You should get a very thick mixture.
  3. Spread the mixture into the prepared container and smooth out the top. Refrigerate or freeze.
  4. For the ganache, melt the coconut oil over low heat in a medium pot. Remove from heat and whisk in the cacao powder, agave, salt, and vanilla until combined and smooth.
  5. Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread out evenly. If you’d like, dust the top with cacao powder and/or chopped walnuts. Put back into the refrigerator to chill.
  6. Remove from the refrigerator, slice and enjoy!

Raw Vegan Brownies

There are lots more people out there grinding their own flours and powders to make awesome snacks. Check out Nazima’s Fig and Blackberry Crumble using her own quinoa flour, and Emma’s Flatbread made with almond and oat flour.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.


Coffee Ice Cream

Coffee Ice Cream

This coffee ice cream is cool because unlike most coffee ice cream recipes, this one uses whole bean coffee (rather than instant). And when you use good coffee, freshly roasted, the resulting ice cream flavour is rich, complex and infinitely variable. Different beans have different characteristics – fruity, acidic, chocolatey, citrusy and so on – and the resulting ice cream takes on these flavours and releases them in perfect deliciously cold creamy mouthfuls.

In this particular instance I used Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans from Rave Coffee. As a coffee, these beans produce subtle notes of damson and plums, which the careful taster may be able to pick up in their ice cream, as well. Best served with complimentary flavours – poached plums comes to mind, or how about plum crumble?

Another benefit to this recipe is it makes it easy to make decaffeinated coffee ice cream, simply by using decaf beans. The result may be less nuanced than with a fancy single estate bean, but honestly, who would mind?

Coffee Ice Cream


  • 1.5 cups (375 ml) whole milk
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1.5 cups (125 g) coffee beans
  • pinch of salt
  • 1.5 cups (375 ml) double cream
  • 5 egg yolks


  1. Heat the milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt and 1/2 cup (125 ml) of cream in a saucepan. Once warm (but not boiling), remove from heat, cover and let it steep for 1 hour or so.
  2. In one bowl, pour the remaining 1 cup (250ml) cream and set a strainer on top of it. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.
  3. Warm up the coffee-infused milk mixture and slowly pour it (beans and all) into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.
  4. Warm the saucepan over median heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (you’ve just made custard!). Pour this custard through the strainer into the bowl with the cream and stir.
  5. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (I do this overnight) then freeze it in an ice cream maker (or use David Lebovitz’s technique for making ice cream without an ice cream maker).


This is my submittions into Kavey’s Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream, Inspired by Hot Drinks edition!

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

Chicago has a few raw food restaurants dotting the city and suburbs and one of the most highly-rated and longest-standing is Borrowed Earth Cafe, which happens to be just a short walk from my parent’s house in Downers Grove. Raw food may not be the most obvious choice for lunch on a sub-zero, snow-laden Chicago winter afternoon, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity for a raw food fix while I was visiting last January. And I had the best company: my mom and my friend, Jim, both veggies and who I knew would appreciate an elaborate lunch of raw recreations of some of our favourite foods such as lasagne, pierogi, gyros and tortilla soup. Each dish was a work of art in itself and given all of the sprouting, dehydrating, chopping, blending and juicing that went into out meal, we were looking at hours and days of work behind each and every dish.

Borrowed Earth Cafe Lunch

At some point during our meal, I commented that if anyone was going to go 100% raw, and really do it like they mean it (as Borrowed Earth owners Kathy and Danny do), then they might as well open a cafe because there’s no sense in putting that much time into a dish that’s only going to serve one or two people. So kudos to Kathy and Danny for bringing raw food to the masses, especially those super elaborate dishes that require tools that most of us mere mortals don’t have (dehydrator, sprouter, Vitamix, copious amounts of time and patience, etc).

Raw Food Lunch at Borrowed Earch Cafe

Fortunately, as Kathy and Danny teach on their raw food workshops, not all raw delights require fancy tools and excessive amounts of time. Raw desserts are particularly “easy”. During that aforementioned lunch, we finished with a raw raspberry “cheesecake” that put conventional dairy-based cheesecakes to shame. Raw or not, this was an amazing desert, and I’m very grateful to Kathy for sharing the recipe with me today. You will need a blender and a food processor, and a cheesecake pan, but all of the ingredients are readily available and the result make it totally the worth the effort. This is a wow-and-amaze-your-guests sort of dessert, so be prepared to share and don’t expect any leftovers (but if you do have leftovers, it keeps nicely in the fridge for about a week, and it freezes well, too).

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake


  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Medjool Dates, pitted
  • 1/3 cup dried coconut flakes


  • 3 cups cashews that have been soaked in water at least 3 hours.
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 3/4 cup agave nectar, coconut nectar or honey
  • 3/4 cup of coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries


  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 3/4 cup Medjool Dates, pitted


  • 8″ or 9″ springform cheesecake pan
  • food processor
  • blender


  1. First make the crust: Place the walnuts in your food processor and, using the S-blade, grind or pulse until the nuts are ground down to a medium texture. Add Medjool Dates and the coconut flakes and process again until a dough-like texture forms. Place the “dough” into your cheesecake pan and and spread out on the bottom of the pan. Press firmly and use a small offset spatula to get an even surface.
  2. Make the filling: Put all of the above filling ingredients into your high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. If you are not using a Vitamix or Blentec or other high speed blender, you might want to divide the filling in half and do half at a time so your blender can handle the consistency.
  3. Pour the filling into your cheesecake pan. (If you have some extra raspberries you can stir those into the cheesecake and place the cheesecake in the freezer for several hours until firm or overnight.)
  4. Make the topping: when the cheesecake is frozen, remove from the freezer and springform pan and place on cake plate.
  5. Put topping ingredients into your food processor and process until well blended. “Frost” the top of your cheesecake with the filling. You can top extra raspberries or coconut flakes on top if you like.

BONUS: Check it out, the “crust” recipe can also be used to make cookies. Just use the same recipe and roll quickly between the palms of your hands to make 1/2 golf ball-sized balls (or, go crazy, the size of the WHOLE golf ball). You can leave them round or press them flat and chill and serve.

You should get 8 slices out of the cheescake and it will keep for about a week in the refrigerator, or you can put it back in the freezer for longer life.

Tiramisu Jelly

Tiramisu Jello

I’ve recently been a little obsessed with gelatinising things, that is, with making edible liquids (juice, coffee, et cetera) gelatinous or jelly-like. But first, a cultural lesson to help bridge the US / UK divide that separates me and many of my readers:

In the USA, the category of edible gelatinised substances typically falls under the name “jello” (see JELL-O, lo the power of branding), whereas the word “jelly” is reserved for clear, fruity preserves meant for spreading on toast. In the UK, “jelly” also describes such toast-friendly substances, but it can also mean a set liquid, what we Americans call “jello”. This caused me great confusion when I first moved to the UK, searching hopelessly for UK “jello” recipes. But when I discovered this incredible double meaning of the world “jelly”, my whole world opened up to me.

(FYI: I will not get into “spermicidal jelly” in this post).

The jelly obsession has emerged over the last couple years as I’ve continuously failed to transplant my family Thanksgiving recipe for “Auntie Jo’s Cranberry Jello Mold” to the UK. The recipe relies heavily on “red” JELL-O, not readily available in this country. I tried making something up using gelatine, which I didn’t feel good about knowing that gelatine is not vegetarian. (In the process, which involves a can of crushed pineapple, I also learned that fresh pineapple will undo the effects of gelatine – blasted bromelain!).

Tiramisu Jelly

So what started as a quest for my family’s cranberry “jelly”, has evolved into a mission for vegetarian gelatinising agents, and also “jellied” creations that are free of crap (like JELL-O).

I have been experimenting and have so far had my greatest success with agar agar, a substance made from algae, discovered in 1658 by Minora Tanzaemon in Japan, and hence very popular in Japanese and Vietnamese cuisine. Agar agar is great because it sets very quickly and doesn’t need to be refrigerated to do so. Plus, it’s all natural and totally vegan. I think we have a winner!

My favourite agar agar creation so far is this Tiramisu Jelly, which I made three times (!!!) while in Chicago over the holidays. It was that good, and surprisingly easy. I used the agar agar to set coffee which had been poured over ladyfinger biscuits, then topped with a cream cheese frosting spiked with brandy (the “proper” way is with marscapone and Italian marsala wine, but this is much more frugal).

This was much easier than making traditional tiramisu (which I did last year over Christmas, a process which seemed to take days to complete, but man it was good). And I really enjoyed the mouthfeel of jellied biscuits – I suppose you Brits may call this a tiramisu trifle! The tiramisu jelly also slices up nicely for fun little party poppers, which we enjoyed on New Years Eve, topped with pop rocks!

Tiramisu Jello

Consequentially, I’m posting this today because I’m currently in Cambridge for a weekend of hunkering and geeking with friends (sort of a Thanksgeeking redux) and the question of “what are you going to gelatinise this weekend?” came up. I haven’t answered that question yet, but having mastered the tiramisu, the pesky pineapple – my nemesis – comes to mind. Stay tuned!

5.0 from 2 reviews

Tiramisu Jelly
Recipe type: Dessert

You can use whatever you want to set the jelly in, preferably a small square or rectangular pan. Even a bread pan would work. The bigger the pan, the shallower the jelly will be. I tend to err for a smaller pan and add as much liquid as needed to cover the biscuits, then set any leftover liquid in a cup for a little jelly bonus snack for the chef!
  • 2 cups strong coffee (I made this with instant espresso)
  • 2.5 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp agar agar
  • ladyfingers (the number you need depends on the size of your pan, but one standard package should give you plenty and leave you with more to spare)
  • 500ml whipping cream (whipped to soft peaks)
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 75ml brandy
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  • popping candy (optional)

  1. Arrange the ladyfingers in a “small” square or rectangular pan.
  2. Combine the coffee, sugar and agar agar in a pan and simmer for a few minutes until the agar agar and sugar are dissolved.
  3. Pour the liquid over the ladyfingers, adding enough to cover the lady fingers – you may need to push the ladyfingers down into the liquid to get them to absorb and settle. I usually add enough liquid so that there’s a few millimetres of liquid above the biscuits, but you can add more liquid if you’d like a thicker jelly layer.
  4. While the jelly sets (which won’t take long – agar agar sets wonderfully quickly and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated).
  5. Meanwhile, mix the whipped cream with the cream cheese, brandy and sugar.
  6. When the jelly is set, smear the whipped cream over the top and top with a dusting of cocoa powder
  7. Serve the jelly in slices, sprinkled with popping candy if you’d like for a fun surprise effect.


Quinoa Flour Cookies with Ginger & Molasses (Gluten Free)

#glutenfree ginger biscuits made with quinoa flour courtesy of @shiptonmill & @quinoaqueens recipe.

Sometimes I think my friend Sam knows me better than I do. For my birthday last summer, she gave me a gift to satisfy both my baker self and my quinoa-loving self: a generous stash of Shipton Mill‘s new quinoa flour along with a copy of Quinoa: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming.

I’d never cooked with quinoa flour, or even knew it existed. But lo and behold, it does (my US friends can find it from Bob’s Red Mill).

Quinoa flour is naturally gluten free and, being quinoa, is high in protein, calcium and iron. You’ll find that most quinoa flour recipes use half regular wheat flour and half quinoa flour. This is for two reasons: quinoa flour isn’t going to give you the same rise as wheat flour. Also, quinoa flour has a nutty flavour that can be a bit overpowering in most recipes.

But there are exceptions.

Gluten Free Quinoa and Spelt Flour Ginger Biscuits

This recipe for quinoa flour cookies from the quinoa cookbook called to me because it is made with 100% quinoa flour and is entirely gluten free. I decided to make them for my gluten-avoiding mom and friends a few weeks ago and alerted them that the cookies were a total experiment and I had no idea how they would be. But I think the results surprised all of us. I can’t say there was any hooting and hollering, but we scarfed almost half the batch in one session.

First of all, the cookies, despite being gluten free, rose well in the oven and came out beautifully cracked and delicious looking. And the flavour was just as good. Here, the nuttiness of the quinoa flour works well with the spicy ginger and rich molasses.

Colour me a fan of quinoa flour – after making these cookies, quinoa flour became a hallmark of my mom’s visit and I’ve done some more experimenting since (expect a post on quinoa flour soda bread coming soon).

And colour me a fan of this cookbook. I look forward to trying more of the recipes – there are some great looking salads, casseroles and even smoothies, all using quinoa in various shapes and guises (whole, sprouted, flour, etc).

The authors of the cookbook generously gave me permission to post their recipe on my website. They’re nice ladies. Check out their website and give them a follow on Twitter and Facebook.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Quinoa Ginger Molasses Cookies
Recipe type: Cookie

I have a hard tome finding molasses in the UK so use dark treacle instead which works just as well. I also think some chopped stem ginger would do well in these cookies. If you try it, let me know!
  • ½ cup organic butter or coconut oil
  • ¾ cup organic brown sugar or sucanat
  • 1 large organic egg
  • ¼ cup unsulfured molasses (or dark treacle)
  • 2 cups quinoa flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ cup organic cane sugar (for rolling)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream butter and brown sugar in large bowl. Beat in molasses and egg.
  3. In another smaller bowl, mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves).
  4. Mix flour mixture into butter mixture until combined into a dough.
  5. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Place the cane sugar in a shallow bowl and roll to coat the balls. Place two inches apart on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. When they puff up and are lightly browned they’re ready! Let them cool slightly before removing them to cool completely on a rack.


Avocado Ice Cream

Avocado ice cream

This week is Holy Week, or as I’ve decided to call it, Holy Mole Week, because yesterday saw another one of my epic gatherings at Orchard Cottage, this time for a Mexican fiesta party featuring tamales, mole sauce, black beans, salsa and for dessert: chocolate cake and ice cream.

My original plan was to do chilli chocolate brownies with vanilla ice cream, but a chocolate tour in Camden with Jennifer Earle and Kavey Favelle introduced me to Artisan du Chocolate and their Lumi milk chocolate bar. Lumis are ripe limes boiled in salt water and sun-dried, giving the the chocolate a fresh tanginess. Given that my meal plan already involved lots of chilli and rich flavour from the mole sauce, I loved the idea of adding a fresh element to the cake, rather than more chilli. Plus, lime was totally fitting with the Mexican theme.

Avocado ice cream

As for ice cream, I debated whether to make lime sorbet, coconut ice cream or avocado ice cream, and in the end decided to make all three, it what is now infamously known as “the trio” (a phrase I apparently kept repeating all night long, following many bottles of Prosecco – I still maintain that the phrase has a nice ring to it).

All of the ice creams in “the trio” were good, really good, but the avocado was absolutely outstanding and perfect with the cake.

"The Trio"

I made the ice cream on Kavey’s suggestion, who did an avocado ice cream on her blog last year. I was ultimately drawn to David Lebovitz’s recipe in The Perfect Scoop for its inclusion of sour cream and lime, both of which sounded perfect for my cake. But the avocado ice cream didn’t need the cake at all (though it didn’t hurt): this ice cream totally stands on its own. It’s creamy but fresh-tasting at the same time, especially with that little hint of lime. It was so good that Patrick secretly stashed some extra avocado ice cream in the freezer so that we didn’t eat it all at once. Because we would have. 

5.0 from 1 reviews

Avocado Ice Cream

  • 3 medium ripe avocados (about 675g)
  • ¾ cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 cup (240g) sour cream
  • ½ cup (125ml) heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Big pinch of salt

  1. Cut open the avocados, remove the pits, and scoop out the flesh.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until absolutely smooth.
  3. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


I’m including the avocado ice cream in Kavey’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream round-up under the fruit theme (yes, avocado is a fruit!).

Brown Bread and Guinness Ice Cream

Brown Bread & Guinness Ice Cream

Last weekend I had a few friends over for an Orchard Cottage slumber party / food fest. Among them was Kavey of the blog Kavey Eats and her latest stack of cookbooks. One of the themes of our visits has been to trawl through these books and pick out recipes to make. Then we head to the shop and return home for a weekend of cooking and eating. It’s basically my ideal way to spend time.

Kavey and I share many mutual foodie interests, one of which is ice cream. Kavey runs a monthly blog meme called Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream (aka BSFIC), so I always like to use Kavey’s visits as an excuse to try a new ice cream recipe. It also helps that her chosen theme for this month’s BSFIC is BOOZE, which made my mission to make ice cream all the more inviting.

Convenient to my cause, one of Kavey’s cookbooks was The Icecreamists: Vice Creams, Ice Cream Recipes & Other Guilty Pleasures by Matt O’Connor. I wasn’t sure if I liked this book at first, totally based on the cover whose bright pink / black design is really hard on my eyes. Inside the book, I continued to find other aspects of the design off-putting: lots of light-coloured text on dark backgrounds and pseudo punk rock motifs. I get what they’re going for, but it doesn’t make for user-friendly reading, which is pretty crucial for recipe books.

The photographs, however, are another matter – here the dark and brooding style really works. These days, too many pictures of ice cream involve pastel colours and frilly props. Not so in The Icecreamists. I reckon a man took the pictures – indeed, his name is Anders Schonnemann - and he definitely has balls (or should that be scoops?).

Having perused the book, it was obvious which recipe needed to happen: Brown Bread and Irish Stout Ice Cream (pictured in a very manly Guinness glass, though oddly looking more like a milkshake than an ice cream – but nevermind). I’d never heard of “brown bread ice cream” before but it seems to be a “thing” in these parts. It goes back to 18th-century Victorian times and has been a popular flavour in England and Ireland ever since. The premise is this: take ice cream, and mix in crunchy caramelised bits of bread crumbs. Sounds good, right? And this version is a particular tribute to the Irish, made with brown Irish soda bread and Irish stout (Guinness in my case).

The ice cream base is a basic custard, kicked up with cinnamon and nutmeg (a LOT of nutmeg, which I loved). For the brown soda bread, I followed the recipe in Bread: River Cottage Handbook No. 3 which includes dark treacle for a sweet, molassesy kick – basically perfect for this ice cream. The recipe only calls for 50ml of stout, which leaves plenty left over for drinking, but also makes me question whether the stout flavour comes through, particularly with the high flavour spices. Regardless, the final result was a total win. Caramelised bread crumbs in ice cream – or in anything for that matter – might be my new favourite thing.

Brown Bread & Guinness Ice Cream

Brown Bread and Guinness Ice Cream

Adapted from The Icecreamists.
  • 250 ml (1 cup) full-fat milk
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) double cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 88 g (1/2 cup) dark brown (muscovado) sugar
  • 20 g (1/3 cup) brown Irish soda bread (or other brown bread)
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) Guinness or other stout
  • 30 g (1/2 cup) brown Irish soda bread
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) dark brown (muscovado) sugar

  1. Pour the milk, spices and cream into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to steam but not boil.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and whisk until slightly fluffy. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking continuously to prevent the eggs scrambling. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring frequently until the custard thinly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow to boil.
  3. Add the crumbled soda bread and mix with a stick blender, then pour the mixture back into the bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooled to room temperature. For more rapid chilling, half-fill a sink with cold water and ice and place the bowl in it for 20 minutes. Never put the hot mixture straight into the fridge.
  4. Once cooled, boil the stout until it is reduced by about half and add to the custard. Cover the mixture and refrigerate, ideally overnight but at least for 6 hours, until thoroughly chilled (at least 4°C/40°F). Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (you can also make this without an ice cream maker).
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the caramelised crumbs. Combine the crumbled soda bread and sugar and spread over a shallow baking tray lined with parchment paper. Place under a medium-hot grill, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are softly caramelised. Allow to cool a little.
  6. Fold most of the toasted bread mixture into the ice cream, then use a spoon or spatula to scrape the ice cream into a freezer-proof container with a lid. Freeze until it reaches the correct scooping texture (at least 2 hours).
  7. Decorate each portion with a few of the remaining caramelised bread crumbs before serving.


Recipe posted for Kavey’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream December challenge.

Apple Pie Ice Cream with Stem Ginger

Apple pie ice cream

Orchard Cottage is living up to its name at the moment. When I look out the window, all I see are a bundle of trees, branches dripping with ripe and ready apples. The mind reels with how to use them all.

First of the Orchard Cottage Apples

First of the Orchard Cottage Apples

Well, here’s an invention I came up with last weekend: apple pie ice cream, though I should really call it “apple crumble ice cream” because crumble topping is what I ended up using for the “pastry effect”. And indeed, that pastry aspect is essential – after all, one of the best bits of apple pie is buttery pastry. I would have used pre-baked shortcrust pastry, but I happened to have crumble topping stashed in my freezer and was feeling lazy, so I toasted that the oven for 10 minutes and went to town.

Apple pie ice cream in progress

The crumble topping worked amazingly well, retaining its crispy texture even after being swirled into the ice cream. That said, I do want to try this again with proper pastry, something a little softer with more chew. Crumbled up cookies or biscuits could also work in a pinch.

Apples for apple pie ice cream

As for the apples, those get stewed up with some spices – I use cinnamon and nutmeg – plus the magic ingredient, stem ginger, which gives it a spice kick and adds a further bit of texture to the whole mixture, which gets cooked up in a pan until the apples just start to fall apart. Depending on the size of your apples, you might not need all of the apple mixture, which is ok because you can serve the leftovers with the ice cream itself.

Stewed apples for apple pie ice cream

Crystallised Stem Ginger

The ice cream base is a basic vanilla custard adapted from David Lebovitz‘s The Perfect Scoop. I toyed with adding cinnamon to the custard, too, but in the end decided to keep it simple and allow more of a contrast between the ice cream and spiced apples. I’m glad I did this.

Custard for vanilla ice cream

One point that requires some finesse is the swirl. I’d be tempted to let the ice cream custard freeze for 30 minutes or so before swirling the apple in. Fresh out of the churn, the ice cream is still a bit soft, which makes for less of a swirl and more of a mix-in. Still, it’s good all the same.

Apple pie ice cream
5.0 from 1 reviews

Apple Pie Ice Cream
Recipe type: dessert

Feel free to bump up the spices or add any additional spices that sing of apple pie to you (a bit of all spice might not go amiss).
  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 3 cooking apples (e.g. Bramleys), peeled and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 100g stem ginger, diced
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • a few gratings of fresh nutmeg
  • a splash of rum
  • ½ cup crumble topping, cooked and crumbled pie crust, or crushed biscuits/cookies of your choice

  1. Heat the milk, 1 cup of the cream, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.
  2. While that’s infusing, prepare the apples: melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat then add the apples, stem ginger, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook on medium heat until the apples start falling apart, but you still have some texture of the whole apple remaining. Taste it – you may need to add more sugar depending on the size of your apples. Add the rum if you like and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
  3. Move on to the ice cream: Set a strainer over a medium bowl and pour the remaining cream into the bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Gradually pour the infused milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape this back into the saucepan and return to a low heat.
  5. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
  6. Strain the custard into the heavy cream, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. Leave to come to room temperature (you can speed this up by using an ice bath). Put this along with the cooked apple and crumble topping and leave to chill thoroughly.
  7. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When done, swirl in the cooked apple and crumble topping (use your discretion here – you may not need all of the cooked apple – I added about a heaping ½ full to mine). Put everything into a freezer proof container and give it a couple hours to freeze thoroughly before digging in.


Apple pie ice cream

I’m submitting this to Kavey’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream spice-themed meme.

Blackcurrant Swirl Ice Cream

Blackcurrant Swirl Ice Cream

A couple weeks ago, in the last of the Orchard Cottage summer festivities, friends from near and far gathered for a BBQ / slumber party that will forever remained etched in my memory for its three cheese plates in 24 hours.

The other source of memory burn: this blackcurrant swirl ice cream.

Amongst my my guests that weekend were Rachel Demuth, owner of Demuths Restaurant and Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath, who put in a request for blackcurrant ice cream. Blackcurrants are one of those British fruits that I’ve never quite got my head around (the exception being Cassis, a blackberry liqueur that works wonders with Rosé). I think I associate it with Ribena, which I’m not particularly fond of.

Anyway, I like a challenge. I had some difficulty finding blackcurrants – we’re well past their season – but found some frozen ones at The Organic Farm Shop, where I also acquired the necessary milk, cream and eggs (I’m not sure why, but the farm shop’s dairy makes The Best ice cream – I think it has something to do with their super rich cream that’s almost as thick as yoghurt, and their wonderfully creamy yellow egg yolks).

To make the ice cream, I adapted the recipe for Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream in the forever useful David Lebovitz book, The Perfect Scoop. Rachel lent a hand by advising on the blackcurrants, which she cooked on the stove with some sugar until they just started to burst. We swirled this in just after churning, though in retrospect I think I’d let the ice cream freeze a bit before mixing in the blackcurrants, just to amplify the “swirl” effect even more.

Blackcurrant Swirl Ice Cream

So I think this ice cream has made me a black currant convert. They’re super tart, which I LOVE, especially when combined with the rich creamy sweetness of the ice cream. This recipe also has me wanting to try more “swirl” ice creams with this season’s found fruit: blackberries and elderberries I’m thinking. Stay tuned.

Blackcurrant Swirl Ice Cream
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. Yield: 1¾ litres.
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 130g sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 375ml thick cream
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 160g blackcurrants (fresh or frozen)
  • 25g sugar

  1. To make the ice cream, warm the milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl. Set a sieve over the top.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and set aside. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks. Spoon the warm egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan.
  3. Stir the mixture over medium heat until heated and the custard coats the back of a spoon.
  4. Pour the warm custard through the sieve into the cream and add the vanilla extract. Gently mix.
  5. Cool over an ice bath. When cool, chill thoroughly in the fridge.
  6. To make the blackcurrant swirl, add the sugar and blackcurrants with a dessert spoon of water to a saucepan.
  7. Cook the blackcurrants on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the blackcurrants begin to burst.
  8. Leave to cool.
  9. To finish, churn the cooled custard in your ice cream maker for about 20-30 minutes. When done, add the blackcurrant, swirl once or twice, then remove to a freezer-proof container (do not overmix!).
  10. Freeze for several hours before serving.