As a pastry chef, David Pearce from Strawberry Fare often gets asked to “bring the desserts”, but at this time of year tradition takes over: on Christmas Day, it is always about his mother-in-law’s cake and her sister’s trifle, so he is off the hook.
If you are asked to make the desserts this Christmas, here are two of Pearce’s delicious sweets for the festive season. He has selected a warm and a cold option, so there is something for everyone. His tip for impressive results is simple – stock up on the highest-quality free-range eggs and dairy products. Although the festive season is incredibly busy at the restaurant, Pearce is looking forward to family fun, laughter, wine and loads of sunshine on his couple of days off this Christmas.
Sticky date pudding
- 150g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 80g brown sugar
- 250ml water
- 500g dates
- 2 large free-range eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 20ml rum
- ½ cup plain flour, sifted
- 1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
- 1 tsp baking soda, sifted
- 1 tsp mixed spice, sifted
- 1 cup cream
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 5 tbsp golden syrup
- 1 tbsp treacle
- 100g butter, cut in small cubes
Vanilla ice cream to serve
- Bring the butter, vinegar and water to the boil, then add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Add the dates and simmer for 10 minutes. Leave to cool.
- Preheat oven to 150˚C.
- Prepare your chosen moulds (a Texan muffin tin works perfectly for this recipe) with a quick spray of vegetable oil or grease with butter and dust with flour.
- Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, and then add the milk and continue whisking. Add the rum and the date mix.
- Swap to a wooden spoon or spatula and fold in all your sifted ingredients until fully incorporated.
- Spoon the pudding mix into the moulds and bake for 25 minutes, before checking with a skewer or sharp knife. Stab the thickest part of your pudding: if it comes out clean, it is cooked.
- Turn the puddings onto a wired rack as soon as you can and serve with the butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream.
- Bring the cream to the boil, then add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the golden syrup and treacle, and continue to heat and stir.
- Whisk in the butter, and once incorporated, take off the heat. Serve immediately and avoid refrigeration.
Mixed berry pavlova
- 1 cup free-range egg whites (about 6 large eggs)
- 2 cups caster sugar
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp vanilla essence
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 500g of fresh seasonal berries
- ½ cup caster sugar
- ½ cup water
Whipped cream to serve
- Preheat oven to 100˚C.
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper or a silicon mat.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (and don’t collapse when you remove the whisk). Next, very slowly and steadily, add the sugar while still beating until it has dissolved.
- Gradually add the vinegar, vanilla and cornflour while continuously beating.
- Spoon this mixture onto your lined baking tray and shape into 4 or 6 tall, round shapes with a spatula.
- Bake for 1 hour, and then turn the oven off, leaving the pavlovas inside for a least another hour or, preferably, overnight.
- Sort through your berries, dividing them into large and small ones.
- Put the sugar and water in a pan and bring to the boil. Next, place the biggest berries in the syrup and stir gently.
- Wait 1 minute before adding the small berries, and then take the pan off the heat immediately and allow to cool.
To serve, top each pavlova with the berry compote and whipped cream.