Francis Coulson's Strawberry Pots de Crème

I found this lovely summer dessert in Simon Hopkinson's book, Roast Chicken and Other Stories. He credits finding the recipe in what he refers to as a "sadly forgotten book" entitled The Good Food Guide Dinner Party Book. The restaurant that served these 
Pots de Crème had been in this guide for many years: Sharrow Bay Hotel in the Lake district in England. Francis Coulson was the owner and chef.

Some background: Francis Coulson saw an old fisherman’s lodge dating back to 1840 advertised in the Manchester Guardian newspaper as "a mansion on the edge of Ullswater with 12 acres of grounds and formal gardens." It's said he arrived by train with his suitcase and a saucepan tied to the outside. He had very little cash, no experience and a great deal of faith. With the magnificent views of Lake Ullswater and its surrounding fells he felt that if he worked hard and with a bit of financial help from his father, he would probably be successful. (The only cooking experience for Francis I could discover were some
 pastry-making lessons from Renee Atkinson. They must have been pretty damn good lessons, because everyone loved the food and raved about his croissants and brioches as well as scones and cakes.)

Sharrow Bay Hotel opened in the spring of 1949 with five bedrooms and coined the phrase ‘country house hotel’ for the first time. In
 1952 Francis (d. 1998) was joined by Brian Sack (d. 2002) who had trained at the Node Hotel and the two ran the hotel for the rest of their lives. Coulson was dedicated to his kitchen, championing British food and cooking, while Sack cosseted and entertained their many devotees. It is reputedly the place where sticky toffee pudding was invented in 1960. And, of course, where this recipe came from. Sharrow Bay was Egon Ronay Guide's Hotel of the Year in 1974, and Restaurant of the Year in 1980. Since 1967, Sharrow Bay has enjoyed membership in the Relais et Chateaux Association of small hotels. The hotel has been part of the Von Essen Hotels group since 2003 and won a star in the Michelin Guide in 2008. 

This refreshing and pretty dessert is easy to make, light, not very sweet, served chilled and can be made a day ahead. Hopkinson suggests serving it with a touch of heavy whipping cream, not whipped, but "poured on top so that each time you take a spoonful, the cream fills up the hole." I know just what he meant.

Francis Coulson's Strawberry Pots de Crème
From Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson

8 ounces strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons sugar
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons Cointreau

Preheat oven to 275. Puree the strawberries in a blender with the sugar and egg yolks. Strain through a find sieve, then stir in the cream and Cointreau. Mix well and pour into individual ramekins. Bake in a water bath for about 1 hour. Check towards the end. The custards should be just set and slightly wobbly in the center. They will continue cooking as they cool. When cooled, chill for at least 6 hours and serve with a little heavy cream poured on top.
You  can make this with raspberries as well.


  1. A wonderful dessert! So summery.



  2. What a lovely post! I love almost anything with strawberries, but I enjoyed your little history and travel education too.

  3. This dessert will be made time and again in my home. I've had this in Europe and loved it. Thanks for sharing he recipe!

  4. Oh Barbara look absolutely delicious!

  5. What could be better than strawberries and cream? These little pots look so good. I bet the raspberry version is good too, and I just happen to have some of those! :)

  6. A lovely pudding from a lovely place! I can't wait to try it at my place.


  7. Splendid photos!

  8. These pots look hopelessly decadent :D
    Love it!


  9. Great post, and is there anything better than strawberries and cream? Always like reading about the history. Thanks Barbara.

  10. You are certainly the elegant dessert queen, my friend! :) Oooh yes! What stunning & tasty desserts!


  11. Those are so pretty--perfect for summer!

  12. fancy-shmancy, barbara! i'm keeping this one in mind for when i really need to impress some guests. :)

  13. Wow, this looks absolutely perfect!
    Even though I am a sweet-aholic, I really do enjoy desserts that aren't all that sweet. Like summer in a bowl :)

  14. Love these kind of desserts as they represent the simplicity of summer.



  15. Very interesting background and the dessert looks sensational.

  16. HI!!
    That place looks like something I could vacation at!!!
    And that dessert looks divine!!!Nothing better then summer strawberries!!!
    Our daughter lives in Orlando.....woks for the BIG MOUSE!!AND I am in Florida at least twice per year!!!I love it there....well it is QUITE HOT in the summer and I live in the desert SW...so I am use to HOT...but DRY Heat is alot easier to bare then all that humidity!!!But winters are nice!!!
    We could retire there.....hubby and I could work for the mouse part time!!!

  17. brilliant! I've often made chocolate pots de creme, sometimes vanilla, but never strawberry. And why not? love this find, Barbara.

  18. what a lovely post

  19. Oh Barbara! I love your description of this dessert...not too sweet...and Cointreau sounds delicious with strawberries.
    Thanks for this recipe and hope you are having fabulous week :)

  20. Utterly summer-delicious. I love the background to this story - this man had great vision!

  21. wow that looks so delicious! and a beautiful color too! thanks for sharing!

  22. The history of the chef and the hotel and restaurant is marvelous! I have not been to that part of England but the image that your words evoke make me quite curious.

    I love having unwhipped heavy cream "filling the holes" in the dessert too!

  23. The dessert sounds as delicious as the resort is famous.

  24. What a luscious looking dessert! I'd love to just dig right in.

  25. What a delightful little back story, I love the snippets of history that you add to your posts Barbara. The pots de creme sound delightful, will try not to dream of these tonight :)

  26. What a remarkable dessert, Barbara. I love being able to attach history to a recipe, and you did that for me here. While I probably won't get to the hotel, I can certainly try the pot de creme. It sounds wonderful. Have a great day. Hugs and blessings...Mary

  27. Well, that last pic got me.

    Have to make these now!!!

  28. oh my goodness, this is gorgeous! i'd LOVE to try this.

  29. Pots de creme make me happy in general but the fruity flavor of these sounds extra delicious!

  30. The hotel looks beautiful, and the pots de creme so tempting!

  31. Have you ever tried strawberries and PB?

  32. They look so good, I want one, now!

  33. I don't think I have ever had strawberries prepared this way...it looks so tempting!



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