Serves 4

I got the idea for this from those leafy lemons in the markets, as well as all the lavender in the fields of Provence. Lavender doesn't get used much in cooking, but it can have a subtle effect on both desserts and savoury dishes. Use it with care! Rather like rosemary and sage, it can completely hijack other flavours.

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons
600ml double cream
8-9 buds of fresh lavender or 4-5 dried buds
5 egg yolks
2tbsp caster sugar
3-4tbsp Demerara sugar or golden caster sugar to glaze

Bring the lemon juice and zest to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes until it has reduced by half. Add the cream and lavender buds, bring gently to the boil and remove from the heat. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the egg yolks and caster sugar together then pour on the cream, removing the lavender buds (don't worry if a few flowers remain in the mixture). Return the mix to a clean heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat gently, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens - but don't let it boil.

While it cooks, give it an occasional whisk and return it to the heat. This should take about 7-8 minutes but it's important to get in round the edges of the pan and keep the custard moving. A simmer plate that fits on to the gas ring and regulates the heat would be a good idea. Remove the lavender buds with a slotted spoon.

Pour into a large round shallow dish or individual ramekins, leave to cool a little and set overnight in the fridge. Spread the Demerara sugar evenly over the surface and spray lightly with water. Light a blow torch and work the flame evenly over the sugar until it caramelises. If you don't have a blow torch, place the crème under an extremely hot grill. Return to the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

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