Unashamedly old fashioned pub The Plowden Arms in Shiplake just outside Henley has a keen chef in Matt Woodley who trained with Gordon Ramsay but is now cooking what he loves best – food with history.

Taking inspiration from the female greats such as Mrs Beeton and Elizabeth David everything on the menu chimes with a bygone era.

Trinity cream, Cambridge cream or burnt cream are the frequently used English names for what the French call crème brûlée. The set cream pudding was thought to have been invented in Cambridge several decades before the French ever published a recipe….

Serves 6

125ml of whole milk

375ml of double cream

6 egg yolks

10 fresh lavender heads (use an English variety, French and Spanish are too strong and bitter for cooking)

120g of caster sugar


Preheat your oven to 120c.

Combine the egg yolks and sugar and set aside. Heat the milk, cream and lavender and bring to a simmer and then take off the heat.

Add the hot cream mix to the eggs a little at a time, so not to curdle the eggs. Once the two mixtures are combined, return the whole mix to a medium heat and cook until a thick custard forms (approx 3-5minutes, and the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon).

Remove from the heat and pass the mixture thorough a fine sieve. Place 6 ramekins in a deep baking tray, pour boiling water around the ramekins until it comes half way up then. Divide the custard mix evenly between the ramekins and place the whole tray in the oven for 40-50 minutes. You want the mixture to be set but with a slight wobble. When ready leave to cool before placing in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

To serve, sprinkle the top with a thin layer of demerara sugar and burn with a blow torch. Serve with biscuits such as shortbread, brandy snaps or a refreshing sorbet (I currently serve mine with a seasonal strawberry sorbet made by simply quartering strawberries, placing them on a baking sheet and dusting with icing sugar. I then freeze them before blitzing them with lemon juice and a sugar syrup in a food processor until I’ve got a nice smooth sorbet).