Summer puddings are child’s play: ripe peaches torn and placed in glasses of ice-cold muscatel; strawberries cut in half and drizzled with passion fruit juice; melon sprinkled with mint infused sugar. But the cook in me wants to slice, stir and cook, feel the rhythm of a quiet but busy kitchen even on a hot summer day, which is why there was both cake and homemade fruit ice cream on the table this week: a sticky, slightly spiced cake with summer fruits – apricots sautéed in butter and honey; and a frozen dessert of yoghurt and summer berries.
The cake was a classic gingerbread without the treacle notes of black muscovado and molasses, brought to the table with vanilla custard. For those interested in something tangy and refreshing, there’s a frozen yogurt the color of a traditional summer pudding.
And this classic recipe, with its berry layer and juice-soaked bread, will be as usual this year, but the mixture of currants, black currants and raspberries will also be in a breakfast bowl, used to flavor the ice cream and mixed into meringue and cream as a bells and whistles dessert. Any extra juice left over is very good in a glass of prosecco – a scarlet-hued mimosa.
Strawberries have been exceptional this year. I served them in a crushed raspberry sauce with a hint of raspberry. (Note to self, I need more liqueur miniatures for such occasions.) I won’t bake a strawberry, but they’re dazzling on a custard-filled pie and even better in a clamshell filled of a mixture of drained yoghurt, sugar glaze with a simple shake of orange blossom water.
Raspberries rarely benefit from the interference of a cook, but this week I used them, mashed and tossed into a bowl of applesauce, as a filling for a fruit pie. The surface was crowned with more berries, arranged very neatly.
Apricot, honey and ginger sticky cake
More of a dessert than a teatime cake, it’s a treat cut into rounds rather than slices and served in a dish with ice cream and warm apricots. For 12 people
For the apricots:
apricots 500g, pitted and halved
Honey 1 tbsp
Butter 50 grams
For the cake:
self-rising flour 250g
grounded ginger 2 level teaspoons
mixed spices ½ teaspoon
ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon
baking soda 1 teaspoon
salt a pinch
lemon zest of 1
light muscovado 125g
eggs 2, large
refrigerated pastry cream 500ml
You will need a 22cm square cake tin, lined with parchment paper.
Cut the apricots in half and pit them. Heat the butter in a shallow non-stick skillet, then add the fruit and cook for 7-10 minutes over low to medium heat, until tender. Towards the end of their cooking, add the spoonful of honey. Remove from heat and reserve.
Set oven to 180C/thermostat 4. Sift flour with ground ginger, spice mix, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add the lemon zest. Pour the honey into a small saucepan, add the butter and sugar and heat over medium heat until the butter is melted. When the mixture has simmered for a minute, remove from the heat.
Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the milk and beat lightly to combine. Pour the butter and honey mixture into the flour and spices and stir gently until the flour is no longer visible. Mix milk and eggs.
Stir in half of the cooked apricots and pour the mixture into the lined cake pan. Apricots should slide down. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until spongy to the touch. Let refresh in the bowl.
To make the icing, put the icing sugar in a bowl, then incorporate the lemon juice, either with a fork or using a small hand whisk. Take it regularly, using only enough to make a frosting thick enough that it will take a while to fall off the spoon.
Remove the cake from its mold and peel off the parchment paper. Just before serving, reheat the reserved apricots in a small saucepan and cut the cake into 16 equal pieces. Place two pieces on each serving platter and some of the reserved apricots. Serve with cold cream or custard.
Frozen yoghurt with summer fruits
Use fresh blackcurrants when in season, but it also works great with frozen.
the water 50ml
icing sugar 5 tablespoons
natural yogurt 500g
Remove the blackcurrants from their stems and put them in a small saucepan with the raspberries and water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until the fruit bursts and the juices bubble. Remove from heat and let cool.
Beat the icing sugar into the yoghurt, then incorporate the cold fruits and their juice. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn until almost frozen. Transfer to a chilled container and store in the freezer.
To make the ice cream without a machine, combine sweetened yogurt and fresh fruit and mix well. Transfer to a covered plastic storage box and place in the freezer for 2 hours. Remove the lid and stir to blend the frozen edges in the middle, then return to the freezer for an hour. Repeat this several times until the mixture is almost frozen.
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