Gooseberries in a Honey Saffron Custard

A few years ago I realised that although I used saffron frequently in savoury dishes, I rarely added it to anything sweet, despite being set in the middle of saffron country with its traditions of saffron cakes and buns. Experiments began, and this pretty, yellowy custard, with flecks of deeper colour traced by the filaments, was one of the most successful outcomes.

The richness of the custard is beautifully set off by the tart layer of gooseberries below. Later on in the year, blue-black damsons take the place of the gooseberries.


  • 225 g/8 oz gooseberries, topped and tailed
  • 50 g/2 oz caster sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 600 ml/1 pint single cream
  • 75 g/3 oz honey
  • scant ¼ teaspoon saffron filaments


Put the gooseberries into a pan with the sugar and 2 tablespoons cold water. Cover tightly and stew gently for 5 minutes, until tender. Divide between six ramekins.

Whisk the egg yolks with the cream, honey and saffron, and pour into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Cook the custard over a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Strain the custard over the gooseberries. Stand the ramekins in a roasting tin filled with warm water to a depth of 2.5 cm/1 inch. Bake in a preheated oven, 140°C/275°F/gas mark 1, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until just set. Serve warm or cold.