Imtiyaaz’s A Play on Basil

Recipe by: Imtiyaaz Hart

Orange cake
Zest and juice of 1 fresh large orange
3 medium eggs separated
125g caster sugar
185g self-raising flour (sifted)
3 tbsp very soft unsalted butter (45 g)
4 drops vanilla extract
Pinch of salt


First off: add the soft butter, the sugar and the egg whites to a bowl and mix.

Attach the wire whip. Lower the mixer head. Then set the speed at 4 and mix the ingredients for 2 minutes until pale and airy.

Adjust the speed to 6(high) and whip the ingredients for 3 more minutes.

Then add the self-raising flour, the orange zest and juice, a pinch of salt, the vanilla extract and the egg yolks to the mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients at speed 4 for 2 minutes.

Then adjust the speed to 6 and whip the ingredients for 3 more minutes.

Remove the wire whip. Pour the cake batter in a buttered springform pan or muffin tins (I used silicone moulds). Bake the orange cake in a preheated oven at 170°C for 40 minutes until set in the middle.

Then remove the cake from the oven and let it cool down fully in its tin. Cut the cake into wedges or pop out of the moulds and serve with orange syrup.

Orange Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
Zest of 3 oranges

Combine the water, sugar and orange peels in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir to combine, bring to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat, remove the peels and let the syrup cool. Transfer to a bottle or jar. Store in the fridge for longest life. 

Basil and Vanilla Biscuits

200g butter
100g sugar
100g ground almonds
200g plain flour
5ml vanilla essence
6x basil leaves, shredded

Preheat the oven to 180deg. Cream together the butter and sugar, add the ground almonds and blitz until integrated then add the flour and basil leaves. Knead together on a lightly floured board to form a dough then roll it out into a 5cm diameter sausage. Slice into 1 cm thick slices.

Place the slices on a well greased baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove at once and cool on a wire rack.

Crumble if need be.

Lime gel

100gcaster sugar
2 teaspoons gelatine powder
100ml lime juice

Combine the sugar and gelatine in a saucepan with 100 ml water. Set aside for 15 minutes to allow the gelatine to soften.

Stirring constantly, slowly bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir over medium heat for 10–15 minutes, or until the gelatine has completely dissolved. It should be completely smooth and you should not be able to see any grains.

Cool to room temperature, then whisk in the lemon or lime juice. Pass through a fine strainer, into a container. Cover and set in the fridge for a few hours.

Once set, blitz in a blender on high speed until smooth and glossy, scraping down the side as necessary. Taste the gel and add more lime juice or sugar if needed. Pour into a clean jar, seal and refrigerate until required. The gel will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 

White Chocolate and Basil Crème anglaise

4 gelatine leaves broken into small pieces
300ml double cream
150g good quality white chocolate, finely chopped (I used Lindt)
20 lg fresh basil leaves
2 medium eggs
50g caster sugar


Put the gelatine leaves into a bowl and cover with 75ml boiling water. Stir until the gelatine completely dissolves. Next, put the double cream, white chocolate and basil into a pan and gently heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts. Take off the heat and leave the mixture to infuse for about 10min.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar with an electric hand whisk until thick and moussey, about 5min – when you move the beaters through the mixture, they should leave a trail that’s visible for a few seconds.

Strain the basil mixture into the egg bowl, then pour in the gelatine water. Beat quickly to combine and pour in bowl or individual moulds.

Refrigerate for minimum 2 hours.

Vanilla Pana Cotta 

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups Full cream milk
3 tspns powdered gelatin
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups light or heavy cream
1 tspn pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt


Lightly grease the ramekins: Spray the ramekins with cooking spray, then use a paper towel to wipe out most of the oil, leaving only a light residue.

Bloom the gelatin: Pour the milk into the saucepan and sprinkle the powdered gelatin evenly over top. Let soften for 5 minutes or until the surface of the milk is wrinkled and the gelatin grains look wet and slightly dissolved.

Dissolve the gelatin over low heat: Set the saucepan over low heat and warm the milk gently, stirring or whisking frequently. The milk should never boil or simmer; if you see steam, remove the pot from the stove and let it cool down. The milk should get hot, but not so hot that you can’t leave your finger in the pot for a few seconds. The gelatin will dissolve quickly as the milk warms; it melts at body temperature so this step should go quickly.

Check to make sure the gelatin is dissolved: After about 2 minutes of warming, rub a bit of the milk between your fingers to make sure it’s smooth. Or dip a spoon in the milk and check the back for distinct grains of gelatin.

Dissolve the sugar: Stir the sugar into the milk and continue warming until it dissolves as well. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes total to dissolve both the gelatin and sugar. Again, never let the mixture boil.

Whisk in the cream and flavorings: Remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk in the cream, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.

Pour into the ramekins and chill: Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared ramekins and put in the refrigerator to chill. If serving straight from the cups, without unmolding, chill for 1 to 2 hours. If you want to unmold the panna cotta, chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

White chocolate & Lime Chards

200g white chocolate
Zest of 3 limes

Heat chocolate until melted and add lime zest. Cool and brush over a balloon and then freeze.

Break pieces of hardened chocolate and serve or use in a bowl.

Basil and Vanilla Granita

1 1/2 cups full cream milk
3 cups Whipping cream
6 egg yolks
25g basil a combination of leaves and stalks is fine
10g basil leaves about 10 large leaves
150 g sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Combine the sugar, milk and basil in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer.

Then remove it from the heat, cover, and set it aside for 30 minutes or up to one hour (to let the milk be infused with the basil flavour).

Drain the milk from the basil (and squeeze any milk out of the basil leaves and stalks too) and leave it aside. Discard the basil.

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and add the basil infused milk, along with the vanilla. Return the milk to a saucepan and heat it gently while stirring, until the custard thickens. If the custard is able to coat the back of a spoon and you can trace a clean path on it with your finger, then the custard is done.

Stir in the whipping cream with the custard. Place half of this mixture in a blender, and add the 10g of Basil leaves and pulse until the basil leaves are blended with the mix.

Return the basil mix back with the rest of the mixture , and let this mix sit in the fridge to chill for at least a few hours or overnight (preferred)

Place in bowl and freeze