Cambridge Burnt Cream


  • 1 pint (½ l.) double cream
  • 8 well-beaten egg yolks
  • 4–6 oz. (120–180 g.) demerara sugar


Bring the cream to boiling point and keep it boiling for exactly 1 minute (this timing seems to be important). Then pour it rather slowly and stirring constantly into the well-beaten egg yolks. Beat for a minute and return to the heat, but stirring over boiling water (or above very low direct heat) until it thickens well – naturally never allow to boil again. On no account add sugar to this cream – the whole point of the traditional dish is that the cream is unsweetened. Pour into a wide, shallow fireproof serving dish. Chill well -overnight is preferable. Cover the cold cream with a ¼-inch (½-cm.) layer of demerara sugar. Put it under a preheated grill, not too close to the top heat. Simply watch it and move it further from the heat if the sugar begins to darken and burn. As soon as all the sugar is melted together so that you can’t see the separate grains, remove it. Chill it again before serving. You should be able just to tap the crust with a spoon to crack it. Very good made in individual soufflé dishes. Keeps in the refrigerator for 4 or 5 days perfectly.

Mrs Rundle, writing in 1819, gives this recipe exactly, but it is also a speciality of two or three of the Cambridge colleges. Almond biscuits are good served with it. I was once given a variant which had muscat grapes, peeled, stoned and well drained, laid in a layer in the bottom of the dish under the cream. Their flavour with the cream is most elegant.