Spiced Custard Filo Parcels, Poached Fig in Lavender Honey and Cardamom Ice Cream

This is inspired by a classic Turkish dessert, ‘sutlu borek’, filo pastry filled with a rice flour custard and covered in syrup – a real favourite of mine growing up. It is sweet and delicious with a crisp outer pastry layer and crunchy pistachios. The ice cream is a no-churn cheats alternative, which needs to made and frozen a day ahead but doesn’t involve any faff of regular ice cream. The spices sing through this dish, combined with the slight floral accents of the lavender and fresh figs, it conjures tastes of the Mediterranean.

Makes 12 parcels


For the filling:

60g rice flour (5 tbsp)

1 tbsp cornflour

40g caster sugar

300ml whole fat milk

300ml double cream

Sunflower oil

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla bean paste


400ml water

250g caster sugar

3 tbsp honey

2 tsp dried lavender

6 fresh figs

200g unsalted butter, melted

100g pistachios, toasted and chopped into small pieces

No Churn Ice Cream:

600ml double cream

1 can condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla bean extract

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Prepare the ice cream in advance to fully set. Whip all the ingredients until it reaches a firm but not fully whipped consistency, a bit like clotted cream. Spoon into a air tight container and leave to firm in the freezer, preferably overnight.

  2. Start with the syrup. Heat the water, sugar, honey and lavender in a saucepan. When the sugar is completely dissolved, bring to a simmer and leave for 15 minutes while you continue with the filling. After 15 minutes, when the thick syrupy consistency, add the figs. Poach for 6-8 minutes until the figs are soft but not mushy. Take the figs out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Take the syrup off the heat and leave to cool and thicken as it sets. When the figs are cool, they can be sliced in half with a sharp knife ready to garnish.

  3. Take the filo pastry out of the fridge to reach room temperature. Heat the milk and cream in a deep saucepan over a medium heat. Mix the cornflour with a tbsp. of water till it forms a liquid and add to the pan along with the rice flour, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Bring to the boil and whisk as the sugar dissolves. It should be a very thick custard consistency to hang off a spoon. Take off the heat and leave to cool (it will thicken more as it cools).

  4. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 4. Open the filo pastry just before using and leave covered with a damp tea towel so it won’t dry out. Lightly grease 2 baking trays.

  5. Fold over one sheet of filo lengthways, so you have two layers of pastry and brush all over with butter. particularly around the edges. Spoon 2 tsp. of the custard filling into the centre of one end (around 5cm up from the bottom) and gently press into a square shape (5cmx5cm). Fold over the sides to cover the filling, meeting in the middle. Fold the bottom edge over the filling and brush the folded edges with more butter Fold the pastry over the custard, not too tightly as the filling will expand in the oven. Fold the pastry down to the end of the sheet so you have a fully wrapped parcel. Butter all over the top and place in the tin. Repeat with the next.

  6. Place the baking trays in the oven for 25 minutes until golden and crispy all over.

  7. Meanwhile roughly chop up the pistachios and scatter the pistachios on a baking tray and put in the oven for the last 10 minutes. Remove the parcels from the oven to cool slightly (they’re best when still a little warm) and drizzle over the syrup and poached fig. Scatter over the pistachios to serve with a scoop of ice cream.