I made this for a Mother’s Day past, with an accidental large amount of cream to get through. It’s a lemon and thyme semi-freddo, but by the end of dinner and several glasses of wine, we’d affectionately named it Fred – ‘Anyone for the last of Fred?’. Fred was a huge success with all the mothers present. If you’re a bit suspicious of herbs in desserts, leave them out or substitute a fistful of chopped berries.
zest and juice of 2 lemons or 4 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
a fistful of thyme sprigs
6 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
500ml double cream
First, grate the zest from the lemons, if using, and pick 2 teaspoons of leaves off the thyme sprigs. Squeeze the lemons. Put the zest and thyme leaves into a small bowl. Set to one side.
Next, line a 700g loaf tin, Tupperware box or empty ice-cream tub with two layers of cling film, using your fingers to push it into the corners, with a few centimetres spare all round. This is to make the semi-freddo easy to remove later. (If you don’t have any cling film, you can skip this step, but it will get a bit messy.)
Separate the eggs and refrigerate the whites – you can make meringues with them to serve alongside Fred or a simple egg-white omelette.
Pop the yolks into a large mixing bowl and pour in the sugar. Add two0thirds of the zest and thyme, and beat together until the yolks are pale and fluffy, and the mixture has doubled in size.
Add the cream and lemon juice, and beat well until it forms stiff peaks – I used to have to make this with a friend on hand to take turns at beating it, but I seem to be able to do it all by myself these days! If you have an electric whisk or stand mixer loitering around, now would be a great time to get it out, but if not, put some loud music on, get a rhythm going, and it’ll be done before you know it.
When the mixture is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks – drops off an overturned spoon or fingers slowly – you’re good to go. Scatter the remaining zest and thyme over the bottom of the loaf tin and give it a shake to disperse it over the bottom – when turned out, it will sit prettily on the top.
Carefully spoon the cream mixture into the loaf tin. Give it a gentle shake to get into all the corners and smooth the top. Carefully fold the cling film over the top, and leave in the freezer for 4 hours or until frozen firm.
To serve, remove from the freezer, unwrap the cling film and turn out on to a plate. Carefully peel away the cling film and leave for a few minutes at room temperature to soften before slicing.
All text copyright Jack Monroe.
This recipe is from A Year in 120 Recipes.
Photography by Susan Bell.