Lemon syllabub

Serves: 10

Lemon Syllabub: A recipe from the Golden Age

I recently attended a Tudor ball at the beautiful Bickleigh Castle in Devon. Not only was the event spectacular, but seated on my table was special guest and creator of Downtown Abbey, Lord Julian Fellowes. Bickleigh’s head chef, Scott Farr, did a superb job of researching and preparing a banquet fit for the occasion. It takes an experienced chef (Scott has been cooking for 30 years and owned his own restaurant before moving from London to Devon) to create a taste sensation that can transport you back to Tudor England. Tudor cuisine was known for being bland, with salt little used and spices very expensive, so a vanilla-infused lemon syllabub would have been a delight. It’s no wonder then that when Queen Elizabeth I was first introduced to vanilla she adored it, and insisted on having it in everything for the last two years of her life.


8 lemons
400g/2 cups caster/superfine sugar
500ml/2 cups double/heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 strawberries


Finely grate the zest from the lemons, then cut them in half and juice them. Strain out any pips and add the juice to the zest.

Add the sugar to the lemon mixture. Pour half of it into a pan and heat gently to reduce to a syrup. Chill.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold in the remaining lemon mixture and the vanilla extract.

Pour the chilled lemon syrup into the bottom of 10 champagne flutes. Using a piping/pastry bag fitted with a large star nozzle/tip, pipe the syllabub into the glasses. Garnish with half a strawberry and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.