Smooth syllabub, fruity pavlova and plum pudding: 5 great recipes chosen by Observer Food Monthly.
Thomasina Miers's easiest lemon pudding
This pudding is smooth, creamy and fresh all at once. It is perfect for those times when you have asked lots of people over the next day and just can't face the thought of even going into the kitchen, let alone cooking. A classic lemon syllabub with a handful of raspberries - I really don't think puddings can get much simpler or better tasting than this.
double cream 1 pint
caster sugar 120g
large lemons 2, zest and juice
dry white wine 1 glass
icing sugar to serve
Whip the cream until it is just thickening to the texture of creme fraiche - you want it to drop off the spoon with a voluptuous "plop". Whip the thickened cream with the sugar, lemon juice and zest and white wine. Chill in wine glasses or small water glasses for at least 4 hours, or overnight in the fridge. Serve scattered with a few raspberries and dusted with a little icing sugar.
Justin Piers Gellatly's St John custard tart
Custardy fragility contained by pastry.
For the pastry (you need half measures of the above for the custard tart, so use half and freeze the remainder)
soft unsalted butter 315g
caster sugar 225g
egg yolks 5
strong white flour 560g
For the filling
egg yolks 10
vanilla pod 1
double cream 750ml
caster sugar 95g
You will also need
a 30cm loose-bottomed tart tin
For the pastry, cream the butter and sugar together until white and fluffy. Lightly beat together the egg and egg yolks, then add them to the mixture a little at a time in order to prevent curdling. Sift in the flour and mix until just incorporated. The pastry will be very soft, so wrap it in clingfilm and leave in fridge overnight.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and let it soften at room temperature for about 1-2 hours. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to about 3mm thick and use to line a 30cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 1-2 hours. Cover the pastry case with clingfilm, fill with baking beans and lightly fold the clingfilm over the top of the beans.
Bake in an oven preheated to 180C/gas mark 4 until the pastry is golden brown around the edges. Remove the clingfilm and beans and return the pastry case to the oven until golden brown. Lightly beat one of the egg yolks. As soon as the pastry case comes out of the oven, brush all over the inside with the beaten egg to seal any little holes.
To make the filling, slit the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Put the seeds and pod in a saucepan with the double cream and bring slowly to the boil to infuse the cream with the vanilla. In a large bowl, mix the 9 remaining egg yolks and the sugar together just for a minute with a whisk. Then pour the boiling cream on to the mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Pass through a fine sieve. If there is lots of froth on top, just spoon it off and discard.
Pour the custard mix into the baked pastry case, then grate the nutmeg on top (do not use ready-ground nutmeg). Place carefully in the oven without spilling any of the filling down the sides of the pastry case; if you do, you will end up with soggy pastry, which is a no-no for a custard tart. Bake at 120C/gas mark ½ for about 1 hour, until there is only a small wobble in the centre of the tart. Take out of the oven and place on a cooling rack. Serve warm or cold and, when in season, with some fresh raspberries.
Complete Nose to Tail by Fergus Henderson and Justin Piers Gellatly (Bloomsury, RRP £30). To order a copy for £21.99 with free UK p&p, click here
Tom Kitchin's pavlova with raspberries, peaches and lime mascarpone cream
This is such a lovely mouth-watering dessert. It can be filled with any seasonal fruit, from red berries, through pineapple and passion fruit to poached rhubarb, but my favourite way to enjoy it is with raspberries and peaches at the height of summer. Typically, the soft-centred meringue is topped with whipped cream, but instead I'm using a fresh lime mascarpone cream.
For the meringue
large egg whites 6
white wine vinegar 1tsp
caster sugar 250g
cornflour 1 tsp
For the lime mascarpone cream
whipping cream 250ml
icing sugar 50g
lime zest of 1, finely grated
ripe peaches 3
Lime 1, juice and zest, finely grated
caster sugar 30g, or to taste
mint 1tbsp, finely shredded
Heat the oven to 110C/gas mark ¼. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. To make the meringue, using an electric mixer or electric hand whisk, whisk the egg whites with the wine vinegar until they begin to froth and increase in volume. Now whisk in two-thirds of the sugar, a little at a time. When stiff peaks form, add the remaining sugar and sift in the cornflour. Fold in, using a large metal spoon, until just incorporated.
Spoon the meringue into a mound in the centre of the baking sheet. Using the back of the spoon, flatten the meringue into a large disc, beginning at the centre and working toward the edge. Make the edge of the meringue slightly higher to create a hollow for the filling to sit in. Bake for 1-2 hours, until crispy on the outside and still soft in the middle. The meringue should be a light golden colour. Set aside to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the lime mascarpone cream. Whisk the cream and icing sugar together in a bowl to form soft peaks. In another large bowl, stir the mascarpone and lime zest together. Fold in the whipped cream, using a large metal spoon, keeping as much volume as possible. Cover and refrigerate.
Halve and stone the peaches, then cut into wedges and place in a bowl. Add the lime zest and juice, and the sugar. Toss together, then add the raspberries and mint and mix gently. Taste and add more sugar if needed, depending on the sweetness of the berries. They should begin to release their juice, forming a sort of sauce.
To serve the pavlova, fill the centre of the meringue with the lime mascarpone cream. Pile the raspberries and peaches on top.
The addition of a little cornflour and vinegar to a classic French meringue gives a pavlova its unique characteristics: a deliciously chewy, marshmallowy texture within a crisp crust. It is important to whisk the meringue until it is stiff before folding in the sifted cornflour and last of the sugar. If the meringue is too soft the pavlova won't have the required depth and desired texture.
Kitchin Suppers by Tom Kitchin (Quadrille, RRP £20). To order a copy for £14.99 with free UK p&p, click here
Nigel Slater's plum pudding for late summer
mixed berries 500g (raspberries, blackberries etc)
sourdough loaf 1 of 500g
You will also need:
1 litre pudding basin
Halve and stone the plums. Put them into a stainless-steel saucepan with the sugar and 250ml of water and bring to the boil. As soon as the fruit is soft, tip in the berries. Continue cooking, but now at a low simmer, until the fruit has started to burst and the juice in the pan is a good rich colour.
Remove the crusts from the bread, cut into thickish slices, then into rectangular strips (like soldiers for your boiled egg), cutting one piece into a disc to fit the bottom of the basin.
Tuck the round of bread into the bottom of the pudding basin. Press the fingers of bread all round the sides of the dish, carefully butting them up together so there are no gaps.
Lift the fruit from its juices with a draining spoon and pack tightly into the bread-lined basin. Cut the last pieces of bread to fit the top then put the basin on a shallow dish. Spoon over enough of the juice that it thoroughly soaks the bread, then place a plate on top of the basin. Add a heavy weight - a can of beans will do - then leave in the refrigerator overnight. You can turn the pudding out if you wish, though I'm not sure it's necessary.
J Sheekey's blackberry posset with vanilla shortbread: James Cornwall
Posset, more often flavoured with citrus such as lemon or orange to cut through the cream, is a traditional British pudding, similar to syllabub. It works beautifully here with blackberries.
For the posset
gelatine 1½ leaves
double cream 400ml
caster sugar 100g
lemon 1, juiced
For the vanilla shortbread
salted butter 125g, softened
caster sugar 60g
vanilla pod ½, with seeds scraped
plain flour 125g
First prepare the posset, as it needs to be made the day before you plan to serve it.
Cover the gelatine with cold water in a bowl and soak until soft.
Liquidise 250g blackberries to a fine purée. Take 2 tablespoons of the purée and set aside for when you serve the dish. Pour the rest of the purée into a saucepan with the cream, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to the boil and let it bubble for 3 minutes until it thickens. Remove from the heat and sieve into a bowl.
Remove the gelatine from the water and squeeze out excess water. Add the gelatine to the warm blackberry mixture and stir until it has dissolved. Pour into glass coupes and refrigerate overnight to set.
To make the shortbread, preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Mix butter, sugar and vanilla seeds in a bowl. Sieve in the flour and cornflour and mix until you have a smooth paste. Roll out on a floured surface to 1cm thickness. Cut into 2cm x 8cm rectangles and place on the prepared baking tray. Prick the dough at even intervals with a fork and bake for 6-8 minutes until light golden in colour. Leave to cool.
To serve, cut the remaining blackberries in half, mix them with the blackberry purée and spoon on to each glass of posset. Serve with a vanilla shortbread.
J Sheekey - Fish by Tim Hughes and Allan Jenkins (Preface, RRP £25). To order a copy for £20 with free UK p&p, click here
Nigel Slater's plum pudding for late summer. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin