Crème Anglaise is one the classic dessert sauces. It is flourless, thin custard. The classic version is flavoured with vanilla but many variations exist. Lemon, orange, chocolate and coffee are some of the many other flavours that might be introduced. If possible use a vanilla pod or bean, but natural vanilla extract can also be used. The vanilla pod will give a superior flavour and the sauce will be flecked with the tiny vanilla seeds whose appearance in the sauce adds visual interest. Best quality eggs make an enormous difference to the colour and flavour of the sauce.
This is a terrific cake and in its simplest form as listed here, it is perfect with a cup of tea. I don't see any reason, though, why you couldn't serve it as a dessert cake, still very slightly warm from the oven, with a bowl of sweet strawberries and softly whipped cream or Crème Anglaise. The cake is best on the day it is made, ideally before it gets completely cold, which is possible with this cake, as it is neither iced nor filled, just sliced and eaten. It is still excellent the next day and will happily keep for a few days after that stored in an airtight container.
These thin, crisp and delicious biscuits have many different uses. The original recipe comes from Chez Panisse in Berkeley in California. I was lucky enough to spend a month in the kitchens there a few years ago. I tasted these biscuits there and have adjusted the recipe slightly to suit our measurements and ingredients in this part of the world. They can be served with tea and coffee. They are good with ice cream and sorbets. They are fine enough to be served as a petit four. I also serve them with a Blackberry and Apple Fool in the autumn and Mango Fool in winter. They are very handy as the slab of uncooked biscuit keeps in the freezer and you slice off thin sheets and cook them as needed.
With a little redecoration it would be perfect for any time of the year too!
Almost too adorable to eat!
This might look like a very impressive cake that took ages to make, but it’s really only an assembly job. Perfect for a dinner party when you're tight on time!
This is one of those recipes that somehow is greater than the sum of its parts. Raspberries, sugar and cream - three easy to source ingredients that produce a rich and luscious result. When available and in season, I use fresh raspberries. However this is excellent made with frozen berries and I have not quite decided yet if it is not actually better made with the frozen fruit. Soft fruit becomes tarter when frozen and this seems to accentuate the flavour when the fool is made with the frozen berries. Serve vanilla shortbread biscuit with the fool. If you have some of the fool left over, freeze it and serve as a raspberry ice.
I like to give myself every chance of success and when I know that I have the correct amount of ingredients in my bowl that is already a good start. Biscuits and pastries are much less forgiving than, say, a slow-cooked stew, so cooking times are also crucial. Here the rules and guidelines really matter and because I think this is such a marvellous recipe, I would really like it to work properly for you so that it might become a most useful part of your repertoire. This biscuit punches above its weight in terms of texture and flavour. It is a classic example of the value of using butter and, where possible, the value of eating a buttery biscuit or pastry on the day it is made. If you make this biscuit with salted butter it will taste like an Irish or English delight, if you use unsalted butter, it tastes more of France or Italy. There may be better biscuit recipes than this but there are few that are so straightforward, and reward so generously for such a small amount of effort.