Sunday Telegraph "The leaves were exceptionally good".
Anneka Rice on Radio 2 - "Almost too beautiful to eat"

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Bling or Spring? Primrose Panatonne Pudding

Primrose Panatonne Pudding

I invented this pudding for three reasons. Firstly because today heralds the start of Spring and we should not let that go without a bit of a celebration. Secondly and on a practical note, I was given a large panatonne at Christmas and need to use it up and lastly and most importantly because I am a big, big fan of alliterations!

This is a huge pudding and will easily feed 14 +. It is hard to describe other than being the very best bits of the following - danish pastry; bread and butter pud; trifle; and a truly great gateaux. It needs a very sharp knife to cut and a spoon to eat.

Best bit of all is that (except for making the primrose curd) there is no cooking involved at all so it might be one for the kiddies to have a crack at for Mothers' Day! Although perhaps leave out the booze if you are going to let the children have a slice. 


1 kg panettone
6 tablespoons of summer dessert wine
3 tablespoons of elderflower cordial
Primrose curd (see recipe here )
(alternatively use lemon curd or double cream or both!)
Primrose or primula flowers

Decide at this stage if you are going to make the primrose curd or use regular lemon and prepare accordingly. 

Unwrap and place the panattone on it's side and depending upon how many you are feeding, or how greedy they are, or then slice four slices of about two inch in thickness.  

Place each of these on a layer of cling film. Mix the wine and cordial together and drizzle evenly over the slices. This combination is lovely and summerly and sets off the cake beautifully but if you could also use limoncello or sherry if you prefer – or just cordial if you’d rather avoid the booze. For the ‘lid’ or top of the pudding just turn the slice upside down (ie cut side up!) and then sprinkle with the last of the liquid. You don’t want to add so much that the outer crust gets soggy so use you judgement and add any surplus to the other layers or your glass.

Place your bottom layer of cake onto your serving dish and spread a generous dollop of primrose curd onto the surface and cover with the next layer of cake. You can add seasonal berries as you go if you wish but you might well loose the subtle floral flavour if you do so. You can also swirl layers of curd with double cream. (We are nothing if not flexible in our imaginations!). Alternately layer the curd and slices until you have reconstructed the panatonne.

From here it can go one of two ways.

Simple and spring like. At this point pop in the fridge until just before you plan to eat it when you should sprinkle with icing sugar and garnish with fresh edible primroses. It goes very nicely with a good dollop of icecream as well.


Go mad and create an tribute fit for Flora the goddess of Spring. This cake is so bright you will definitely need the shades. 

Cream Cheese Icing.
200 grms of butter (room temperature)
500 grms of cream cheese
200 grms of icing sugar (sifted)
2 tsp vanilla extract.
Make the cream cheese icing by beating the butter until it is smooth and pale. Then whisk in the other ingredients until they are all incorporated. Don’t over work or it can split. Completely cover the outside of the panatonne either in a rustic fashion similar to rendering a wall or  by carefully piping it. No prizes for guessing which method I  adopted. Normally I would not suggest adding your flowers too early to a cake (the very last minute is best) but primulas are fairly robust (look at the early Spring weather they sometimes have to deal with) so in fact I added these whilst the icing was still soft and bunged the whole lot in the fridge. They looked just as good two days later when Mandy who works for me snuck the remainder of the pud in her handbag and rustled it home.

Which do you prefer? Spring or bling!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Black Velvet Cocktail

Celebrate St Patrick's Day in style!

Stunning picture by

 Black Velvet Cocktail

½ flute of champagne
½ flute of guiness

According to the official Guiness website this famous drink was invented in 1861 at Brook’s Club in London. Everybody was in mourning for the late Prince Albert and the steward at the club decided that even the champagne should be put into mourning and mixed it with Guiness.

To make, pour the chilled champagne into the bottom of a flute or other suitable glass. To retain a colour separation add the chilled guiness slowly by running it down the back of a large spoon.

We have garnished ours with some wild lucky plum sorrel. Baby shamrocks for the luck of the Irish!

Top of the morning to you all!

Thank you to the wonderful Neil White for the photo!


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Primrose curd muffins

These wee muffins are lovely and so simple to make that I, or anybody's small child, could manage without trauma or too much supervision. Having said that, they are not conventionally beautiful. The apple based primrose curd bubbles from their core like molten lava and oozes stickily and unevenly down theirs sides. Yum!

Makes 6 large muffins or 10 small so would seriously suggest doubling up the mixture as they are very moreish.

Pre heat the oven to 190c/375F/Gas mark5

200 grams of self raising flour
100 grams of cater sugar
1 large free range egg
5 fluid ounces of milk
3 fluid ounces of sunflower oil
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
Primrose curd  (
or failing that a really good lemon curd

For the topping
More primrose curd.
1 tablespoon of golden granulated sugar

Sieve the dried ingredients into a large bowl. Beat the 'wet' ingredients together until thoroughly mixed and add to the other ingredients. Fold together until incorporated.

Line a muffin tin with cases and spoon in the mixture to about 1/3 full. Carefully spoon a small dollop (technical term there for about 1/3 to 1/2 a teaspoon!) of curd onto the centre of this mixture. Top up the cases evenly with the remainder of the mixture.

Cook for approximately 20 minutes in the centre of the pre heated oven (just check them after 15 if you've a stinkingly good oven). Once they're golden on the top, firm to the touch and starting to ooze a little then they are done.

Remove from the oven and whilst hot brush the tops with a little extra curd and then sprinkle with a little golden granulated sugar for a bit of crunch. Best served warm which is a good thing as they rarely last long enough to get cold.

Primrose Curd

I'm the first one to admit that I am first and foremost a gardener and what happens in the kitchen can be a little random and unpredictable to say the least. Therefore, where possible, I rely on those far more proficient than myself both in terms of culinary expertise and generosity of spirit to help with recipes.

This recipe was generously shared by the lovely Liz Knight of who is a genius on all things foraged and sells wonderful pots of gathered genius to transport the most humble of ingredients into something extraordinary. Her website is well worth a visit.

The stunning photo was taken by the very talented

Primrose Curd

Two generous handfuls of unsprayed clean primrose petals.
450grms sugar
450grms Bramley apple
125grms unsalted butter
4-5 large eggs
The zest and juice of two lemons.

Day One
Finely chop the primrose petals and place them with the sugar in a container and stir through the primrose flowers. Cover and leave for at least 24 hours (this will allow the flavours from the petals to be released into the sugar.

Day Two
Peel and chop 450grms of apples, put them in a pan with 100ml of water and the lemon zest and juice. On the hob, gently cook the apple until it is yieldingly soft and then mash it into a purée.

One third fill a pan with water and place a snug-fitting heat-proof bowl on the top of the pan. Add the apple, butter, lemon juice and primrose sugar mixture to the bowl. Heat the pan and stir the mixture until the butter has completely melted.

Turn off the heat and add the eggs to the mixture through a sieve. Stir the eggs in thoroughly with a balloon whisk.

Put the pan back on a gentle heat and stir the mixture for about 10 minutes until it thickens. (It will thicken further as it cools). Pour the curd into sterilised jars, seal immediately and store in the fridge where it will keep for up to a month.

Thank you Liz!