WHITE CHOCOLATE AND BAY LEAF PANNA COTTA
“A panna cotta is the perfect dessert when it comes to hosting. You can knock them together up to two days in advance and simply store, covered, in the fridge. The bay leaf is optional here, but I love the musky flavour it adds to the sweetness of the white chocolate. You could also try rosemary to achieve this savoury note – simple use 3-4 sprigs and follow the same infusing method as you would with the bay leaves.” – Flora Shedden. Author and The Great British Bake Off runner-up 2015
4 gelatine leaves
600ml (20fl oz) double cream
200ml (1/3 pint) milk
75g (2¾ oz) icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
6 dried bay leaves
150g (5½ oz) good-quality white
chocolate, broken into pieces, plus extra curls for decoration
Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water and set aside to soften.
In a large saucepan, bring the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla and bay leaves to the boil. Watch the mixture, though, as you don’t want it to boil over. Once boiling, slide the pan off the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes.
Squeeze out any excess water from the now-wrinkled gelatine and stir it into the warm cream until fully dissolved. Add the white chocolate and allow to sit for 5 minutes – don’t be tempted to stir the mixture yet in case the chocolate seizes and splits.
After 5 minutes, slowly stir the cream mixture until smooth and the chocolate is fully melted. Remove the bay leaves, then pour the mixture into 6 ramekins, small glasses, espresso cups or any other wee dishes you have.
Allow to set in the refrigerator overnight before serving decorated with chocolate curls.
BLACKCURRANT CRUMB SLICES
“I make these bars when we have a bounty of berries and a craving for baking. A mixture between a tray bake and a crumble, these bars are loaded with fruit and are all the sweeter for it. Serve with ice cream or a nice spoonful of mascarpone or clotted cream.” – Flora Shedden. Author and The Great British Bake Off runner-up 2015
(Makes 10 bars)
125g (4½oz) softened unsalted butter
125g (4½oz) caster sugar
125g (4½oz) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
200g (7oz) blackcurrants
200g (7oz) blueberries
5 tablespoons demerara sugar
For the crumble:
40g (1½oz) cubed cold butter
40g (1½oz) caster sugar
75g (2¾oz) Oat flour
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF), Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a deep 23cm (9 inch) square baking tin.
First, make the crumble. In a bowl, rub the cold butter into the sugar and oat flour to form a rough crumble. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 15 minutes to allow it to firm up. This can also be made in advance and kept in the fridge at this stage overnight.
For the base, beat the softened butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, adding 2 tablespoons flour with each addition (this will prevent the batter from splitting). Once the mixture is smooth, fold in the remaining flour and the vanilla bean paste.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread it out in an even layer. Top evenly with the berries, then the chilled crumble. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar to finish.
Bake for 35–40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean (or with only fruit on it and no uncooked batter from the base layer).
Recipes from Gatherings: recipes for feasts great and small by Flora Shedden, published by Mitchell Beazley, £25; octopusbooks.co.uk
A gathering is an easy way of cooking and hosting. It means no pressure, no code of conduct, and everyone – cook included – can actually enjoy themselves. Flora’s collection is a mixture of modern dishes, staple snacks, salads and sides, interesting bakes, and puddings perfect to end a feast with. Nothing overly fussy or complicated, just tasty, pretty plates of food. Choose from the chapters led by occasion or pick and choose from dishes such as Sloe Gin Braised Venison, Cocoa Nib Brownies and Redcurrant Pavlovas to put on a spread.