Sunday, 27 January 2013


Every year, on January 25th, Scots around the world remember their most celebrated cultural icon, the poet, Robert Burns. Burns' poetry ranges from the romantic to the satirical, from the patriotic to the liberal and from the idealistic to the egalitarian. Widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, his life and works are commemorated on his birth anniversary with a night of revelry, known as 'Burns Night'.
Burns Night is an institution of Scottish life. From traditionally formal to boisterously informal, it is a night that includes Scottish music, a traditional Scottish meal, recitation of Burns' work, all which is washed down with copious amounts of Scotch whisky.

I reckoned there was no better time than Burns Night, to try my hand at a traditional Scottish dessert, the cranachan. In it's most simplest version, it is cream flavoured with oatmeal, honey and whiskey and then, much like a trifle, layered with fresh fruit. Since, I have already anointed January as the month of strawberries in India, it would be my fruit of choice.

It doesn't get much easier or faster to whip up a dessert than a cranachan. It took me all of fifteen minutes to prepare it. The only cooking you do is to toast the oatmeal. And for the fruit layer, I pureed half of the strawberries and kept the rest as quartered pieces.

The dessert is simplicity at its best. Oatmeal gives the cream a certain amount of body to retain shape when it is layered. Flavoured with a touch of honey, the whisky imparts a certain warmth to the cream. And of course, you cannot go wrong with the pairing of strawberries and cream.
While this may look like a trifle, this is more like a posh version of strawberries and cream, without the messiness of an 'Eton Mess'. This is a dessert that delivers on simplicity, elegance, practicality, time and most importantly, taste.

I leave with you with a few words from one of Burns' most well-known poems, written in 1788, 'Auld Lang Syne'. Popular throughout the world and is sung usually at the stroke of midnight, to bring in the New Year. Burns claimed that he collected the song by writing it down from an old man's singing. The title can be loosely translated as "For (the sake of) old times".

Extremely nostalgic, it remembers the times gone by, with a call to remember long-standing friendships. A sentiment that will always find resonance, despite the strains of time and change!!
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

Adapted from this recipe by BBC Good Food. Serves 2.
  • 2 tablespoons oatmeal (I used regular quick-cooking oats and then whizzed them)
  • 175 ml double cream
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons whisky
  • 1-2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 150 gms strawberries (hulled and halved)
  • Toast the oatmeal, either under the grill or on a dry pan on the stove. It will not darken quickly, so use your sense of smell to smell the nuttiness. Once toasted, remove onto a plate to cool.
  • Take half the strawberries and puree with a teaspoon of caster sugar in a blender. Taste to see if you would like it sweeter.
  • Hull and quarter the remaining strawberries.
  • Whisk the cream until just set and stir in the toasted oatmeal, honey and whisky, until just firm. Do not over whip the cream. Taste and check to see whether you would like to add more of any of the ingredients.
  • Alternate layers of fruit and puree with the cream mixture in 2 serving dishes. Allow to chill slightly before eating.


  1. What delicious and tasty looking photos!

  2. A simple , colourfull, eggless dessert whipped in almost no time. Loved it and yes strawberries are here in plenty!

    1. I know!!! It came together so easily.. its perfect for last minute desserts!!!

  3. Sarwani, you certainly prepared a wonderful Scottish dessert with bright and fresh strawberries from India - what a fun post with a terrific recipe. Sometimes it is nice to keep a few relatively easy recipes in mind, especially if there are really ripe and juicy fruits available in the market.

    1. Andrea, I just cant get enough of the strawberries in the market!! with this dessert, you are onto a winner because apart from being delicious .. it was so quick to put together!!

  4. I love the idea of this dessert!
    Strawberries are everywhere here too and with school starting tomorrow, quick and easy is high on my list.
    I think I will try this over the weekend without the alcohol for the kids
    Beautiful pictures as always Sarvani

    1. Thanks Sawsan!! It doesnt get easier or faster than this dessert!! Do try it and let me know how you liked it!!!


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