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Recipe for July – Lemon Syllabub

Recipe for July
Lemon Syllabub

The taste of Summer! With the heat wave this is the most refreshing pudding with a fascinating history

Lemon Syllabub Recipe Photo Dan Matthews The Guardian
Lemon Syllabub Recipe Photo Dan Matthews The Guardian


This the most quintessential of English desserts, combining cream and alcohol

Dating from 17th century it takes its name from the wine making area of Sille in the Champagne region of France and the Elizabethan colloquial word for fizz ‘bub’. It is basically an alcoholic milkshake and remained popular in various forms until the 19th century. Revived in post-war Britain by Elizabeth David, the Syllabub has remained a firm favourite

Syllabub was also known as ‘Hatted Kit’ and a recipe for it appeared in Elizabeth Raffald’s book, ‘The Experienced English Housewife’ in 1769

To make a Syllabub under the cow

Put a bottle of strong beer and a pint of cider into a punch bowl, grate in a small nutmeg and sweeten it to your taste. Then milk as much milk from the cow as will make a strong froth and the ale look clear. Let it stand an hour, then strew over it a few currants well washed, picked, and plumped before the fire. Then send it to the table.

Apparently Charles II liked it so much that he kept cows at the palace in case he felt like some ‘Hatted Kit’ – He would walk up to one of them and squirt milk from its udder into his flagon or wine or cider!

Ingredients for 4 – 6 people

200ml medium dry white wine, preferably Riesling

5 tbsp honey or caster sugar

1 unwaxed lemon, zested and juiced

3 tbsp brandy

300 ml whipping cream

3 egg whites


Warm the wine in a pan and stir in the honey or sugar until it has just dissolved. Finely grate in the lemon zest and leave to cool. Then stir in the brandy and lemon juice

Tip the alcoholic mixture into a large bowl and slowly pour in the cream, whisking furiously until it thickens to very soft peaks. Taste and add more of any of the ingredients as required

In a clean bowl whisk the egg white to soft peaks, then fold gently through the cream mixture. Divide into glasses and chill for two to three hours. Serve with a little grated lemon zest for decoration and almond biscuits, Elizabeth David style! It will keep for a day or two in the fridge

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