This week at work we had a team Burns lunch. Each team member was to supply one item. I was tasked with making a dairy-free cranachan. All I can say is, it’s lucky I am the only person in the team who needs to avoid dairy.
My grand plan was to simply follow a normal cranachan recipe, but substitute the dairy with oat cream. Because what could be better in an oaty dessert than oat?
Unfortunately, I discovered too late that oat cream doesn’t whip. I started trying all sorts of voodoo to get it to thicken.
I added some cornflour. It was still thin. A bit of Googling suggested adding vegetable oil. But we didn’t have any.
Alex suggested coconut oil. It has the oddest consistency, but stranger things have happened. No luck. My last resort was to glug in some sunflower oil.
But nothing I tried had any effect whatsoever.
My cranachan was already a disaster, so I had to improvise on top of my improvisations.
I had originally planned to make it in a large dish from which people could take servings. But the cream was so thin that I had to put individual portions in glasses.
Moreover, the thin cream clearly wouldn’t layer with the raspberry puree. So I hatched a plan to place a mini oatcake to act as a barrier between the layers. But as I poured the cream in, the oatcake just floated up to the top like the world’s most unappealing lava lamp.
As I precariously perched raspberries on top, the oatcakes began to sink messily. I figured out that I could balance raspberries around the edges of the oatcakes to maintain an equilibrium.
To complete the desserts, I sprinkled some toasted oats on the top. Easy peasy, if only I hadn’t burnt the first batch.
I was worried about what would happen to them overnight. But in the morning they actually… looked… quite good?
But now I had a new problem. How would I transport the runny desserts in four individual glasses?
One of those cardboard bottle carriers would have been ideal. Annoyingly, we had only recently thrown one away. Any tupperware boxes or shoeboxes we found were the wrong size.
Eventually, I found an old box file that was almost perfect. We stood the four glasses up in the box, stuffed it with newspaper to fill in the gaps, and found a bag for me to carry it upright.
Unfortunately it was a windy day, so I failed to keep it upright for the half hour journey. As I entered the office building, I began to smell a sweet, creamy raspberry smell and the penny gradually dropped.
One of the glasses had fallen over in transit, and I had a bit of a mess to clear up. Colleagues complemented the smell, and seemed to think the remaining three even looked good. It’s amazing what presenting something in a glass can do.
Come lunchtime, I was the only taker for the dessert I had stayed up late slaving away over. It tasted surprisingly good. But the raspberry puree was too bitter (probably needed more sugar). And it didn’t seem like a cranachan. Maybe more like a smoothie, if only it had been properly mixed.
The two remaining desserts got a further battering on the way home, and when I tried one of them this evening it tasted truly awful.
Happy Burns night.
I can’t believe I just wrote almost 600 words about my mediocre dessert.