Sugar Syrups

Sugar syrups are sometimes just so incredibly useful. They are also one of those things that you can go your entire culinary career without ever needing to use, until suddenly you do.

There are two main types of sugar syrups that you will see listed as ingredients for baking and cocktails; simple syrup and standard syrup. Both are a mix of sugar and water; Simple Syrup is made of equal amounts of sugar and water (and sometimes referred to as a one-to-one, or 1:1 syrup.) Standard syrup in made with two parts sugar to one part water. This 2:1 mix can be referred to as Rich Simple Syrup in American recipes.

The higher sugar content in Standard Syrup means, unsurprisingly, that it brings more sweetness to a recipe, and is therefore more noticeable. It also means that Standard Syrup has a longer shelf life, with the sugar acting as a natural preservative. Neither syrup lasts indefinitely, however, so it’s probably a good idea to only even make ever-so-slightly more than enough to cover your immediate plans. It’s not as if it will be difficult to make some more should you run out. This syrup really is as simple to make as the name suggests.

Back to storage: if you are planning to make this ahead, it’s best to follow the following tips to keep everything fresh.

Simple Syrup: Find a jar with a tightly fitting/airtight lid to store it in – a jam jar or mason jar will do very well. Wash it well, then sterilise it by filling with boiling water. Pour boiling water over the lid as well. Leave the hot water inside until just before you pour the hot syrup in – hot glass is far less likely to crack than cold. Please, never pour boiling hot liquid into cold glass!

If you are planning on making a Standard Syrup and keeping it for a few months, then take things a step further. Wash your jar and lid well (removing the rubber seal if it has one) and once completely dry, place on a baking tray and place in a low oven (gas mark 1 / 140 C / 275 F) for ten minutes. If using a Kilner jar with a rubber seal, this can be boiled – although if you are boiling the seal you may as well use the boiling method to sterlise the jar as well. Either way, be very careful when handling your heated jars.

Keep your syrups in the fridge. Simple Syrup can be kept for a month, and Standard Syrup for up to six, however both can go mouldy if left out at room temperature. Both can go mouldy in the fridge too, so make sure you make a note of the date you make them and throw them away if you are unsure if they are still good.

It’s usual to measure the sugar and water out by volume when making syrup. I tend to use measuring cups, but you can use a measuring jug just as easily. If you don’t have either then you can weigh the amounts (you won’t end up with quite the same ratio, but this isn’t exactly a science.)

I always use granulated sugar for sugar syrup and reserve my more expensive caster sugar for recipes that require a finer grain, but please use whichever you have to hand.


Simple Syrup

1 cup white sugar

1 cup water

Standard Syrup

2 cups white sugar

1 cup water


I’m almost embarrassed to write this down, it’s so easy! Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over a gentle heat and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. There’s no need to let the syrup boil – in fact this will reduce the water content and change the ratio of the mix. Once all the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and pour into your heated jar.

Once again, please be careful when handling hot syrup! Make sure your jar is standing on a stable surface.

Secure the lid, allow to cool completely, and store in the fridge until needed.

Ultimate Iced Coffee

I know, I know. ‘Ultimate’ is a pretty big claim, but this iced coffee is delicious. Perhaps it’s the unusually hot summer we’re experiencing here in ole Blighty, but I am all about iced drinks at the moment.

So hot I think most of the ice had melted by this point!

A word of warning – there is a lot of sugar in this recipe. However, you will find that the milk can handle quite a lot of sugar; in fact, coffee shops usually add sugar syrups to milk based iced coffee. If you’re unsure, or if you don’t usually have sugar in coffee, start small, then add more of the sweet stuff to suit your taste.

The sweetened condensed milk is what makes this drink so amazing. If you can’t bring yourself to add sugar and condensed milk to this, please choose the condensed milk. Although you will only use a small part of a tin, it’s not expensive, and it’s easy to use up. It’s amazing stirred into an everyday cup of coffee, can be used to make no-churn ice cream, or used to sweeten a number of desserts and bakes.


This recipe makes two iced coffees. Whether you share one with someone or drink both yourself is up to you.

Serves: 2


3/4 cup / 180 ml / 6 fl oz strong cold brew coffee

1 1/2 cups / 360 ml / 12 fl oz cold milk

2 – 6 tsp simple syrup

2 – 6 tsp sweetened condensed milk



Measure out your coffee and milk into a jug that’s larger than the glass you intend to use. Add a small amount of both the sugar syrup and the condensed milk and stir thoroughly. Up the amounts of sugar and condensed milk to taste, making sure you stir well between each addition.

Add ice to the glasses you intend to serve the coffee in to start chilling the glass. Add extra ice to your coffee mix (honestly the amount is up to you – but don’t skip this part entirely unless you are super short on ice) and stir, stir, stir for at good minute. This will bring the temperature of your coffee right down.

Serve over ice. With a straw.



Cold Brew Coffee

With summer finally upon us, cold coffee suddenly seems sensible.

20180707_132918Cold Brew Coffee is a pretty new idea on this side of the Atlantic (especially all the way down in far flung Devon.)

Despite the name, Cold Brew Coffee is actually brewed at room temperature, usually overnight. The resulting coffee is stronger than hot brewed coffee, and if you believe the experts, has a smoother taste. Because it’s already cool, it works well in cold drinks.

This version (there are several, just check online) is pretty strong. It’s made with a ratio of one part ground coffee to two parts water. The resulting coffee can be served either black or white, with one part of Cold Brew mixed with two parts ice cold milk or water. This higher ratio of coffee to milk than would be used in a traditional espresso-based iced coffees means that the final drink is lighter.


It’s strength means that the concentrated coffee drink takes up less space in your fridge. Unmixed, this can be kept in the fridge for a few days, ready for whenever you need a cool caffeine fix.


Use a fairly coarse ground coffee (suitable for cafetiere or filter) rather than fine ground blends (so avoid espresso.) This is simply because you don’t want to end up with grounds in your drink, and small grounds might seep through your filter.

You will need a jug or bowl to brew the coffee in and a muslin cloth or paper coffee filter to strain the coffee through. A funnel is useful, but you might be able to cope without one if using cloth (as in the picture above.)

I’ve used (UK) measuring cups in this ‘recipe’, but all you really need to remember is the mix of one part coffee to two parts water. If you don’t have measuring cups yourself, use a teacup or pour your coffee straight into a measuring jug until you reach the 240ml / 8 fl oz mark.


1 cup / 240 ml ground coffee

2 cups / 480 ml room temperature water

Combine the coffee and water in a jug or bowl and gently stir until there are no dry grounds left on top. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a cool place, away from direct sunlight (mine sits of top of the fridge.)

Leave for eight hours, or preferably overnight. Once it’s brewed, carefully strain it into a clean jug or bowl, and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it (up to three days.)

This is a pretty concentrated coffee, so you will need to dilute it with one part coffee to two parts water (or milk.) For a lighter milk version, dilute with water then finish with just a splash of milk.

If you like to add sugar, go ahead. It will need a very good stir to dissolve in the cold drink, so consider sugar syrup or even a flavoured syrup.

Or, if you are feeling in need of a real treat, try an Ultimate Iced Coffee


Lemon Elderflower Syrup

After much humming and hahing, Lemon Elderflower Syrup gets to be the first recipe posted to this blog – yay syrup!

Lemon Elderflower Syrup can be used for a number of summer beverages and desserts, but is perhaps best with iced sparkling water.

Sadly, its selection has less to do with how wonderfully bright and summery it tastes (although it certainly does), or even how easy it is to make (a cinch), but rather that a friend gently reminded me that I wouldn’t get any practice in creating readable blog posts until I actually posted something. This all feels very unfair to Lemon Elderflower Syrup, as it completely deserves to be posted about in its own right.

Elderflowers in bloom

Once a rather old-fashioned flavour, elderflower is experiencing a something of a revival. Elderflower cordials and gins are everywhere, and a lemon and elderflower wedding cake replaced the traditional fruit and marzipan confection at the recent Royal wedding.

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but here in Devon, elderflowers are ubiquitous with early summer. I can remember watching my mum making elderflower champagne in a bucket under a tea towel – something I’ve always wanted to try myself. For the first time in my life there is an elder growing just outside the garden gate, and with the sun shining down in early June, I leapt at the opportunity to gather armfuls of foamy, fragrant blossom and get creative. Continue reading “Lemon Elderflower Syrup”