Recreate the showstopping dessert trolley from Ballymaloe House in our extract from Ballymaloe Desserts by head pastry chef JR Ryall.

Myrtle Allen [founder of Ballymaloe House] was a self-taught cook, her experience gained from working with the abundant produce of the four-hundred acre Ballymaloe farm that her husband, Ivan, ran. Myrtle always looked for ways to make use of the crops and produce from the farm. Inspired by the contemporary cooks of her time – from Elizabeth David to Jane Grigson and from Margaret Costa to Rosemary Hume, not forgetting Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle and Julia Child – Myrtle practised techniques and developed recipes that worked with the produce available to her. In 1964 she felt she had enough experience to open a small restaurant.

There was always a dessert trolley in the dining room at Ballymaloe. Myrtle carefully planned the dessert menu each day so the various dishes would complement each other. If a guest was to try a little bit of each dessert on the trolley, all of the flavours and textures would need to work together. As the restaurant expanded, so too did the repertoire of recipes being tried and tested. Things were reworked and the dishes evolved until they were to Myrtle’s taste: the Ballymaloe taste as it has come to be.

The more I see, the more I understand how one-of-a-kind Ballymaloe really is, and how unusual it is for a restaurant and hotel to be so close to nature and aware of its surroundings. It has become clear to me how important flavours are to a particular region or place and how important Myrtle Allen’s work and vision was for Ireland. By focussing on seasonality and what was around her, she set an example. Myrtle supported the producers of her locality. She championed the best-quality produce, always looking for natural flavour. Her statement was feeding people food in which she felt thoroughly confident.

Working with Mrs Allen was always exciting and often unpredictable. Her approach seemed eccentric yet it always made sense. She believed in her ideas, knew her own mind and, through her life, became an expert problem solver. Myrtle had a clear vision and she shared it with everyone around her. I feel very fortunate to have learnt from her. JR RYALL