Recipes - Puddings

Here you will find a cornucopia of desserts, puddings and sweets including those suitable for each season of the year, all submitted by local residents over the last few years.

If you have a useful addition to make to this blog, please submit your recipes by clicking the button below.

By Peter Saugman and others


Chocolate Courgette Loaf

They are late coming, but we are going to be overrun by courgettes again

  • Cake
  • 175g (6oz) dark chocolate, 60%, broken into pieces
  • 225g (8oz) courgettes
  • 200g (7oz) plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 110g (4oz) caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • Icing
  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 350g (12oz) icing sugar
  • 50g (2oz) cocoa powder
  • Water or liquer (optional)

Brush a 900g (2lb) baking tin with a little oil and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over barely simmering water. Stir until smooth and keep warm. Finely grate the courgettes.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a large bowl and mix in the sugar and grated courgettes.

In another bowl, beat together the oil and eggs. Stir the mixture into the dry ingredients, then stir in the melted chocolate.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until the loaf is well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

The freshly baked loaf is very fragile so leave it to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes or until lukewarm before turning it out carefully on to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Sift together the icing sugar and the cocoa powder, then beat into the creamed butter with enough liquer or water to make a frosting that is easy to spread.

Daylesford Carrot Cake

Difficulty rating: Easy, Preparation time: 15 mins, Cooking time: 1 hour


  • Cake Mixture:
  • 6 Medium Eggs
  • 265g Light soft brown sugar
  • 280g Sunflower oil
  • 6g Ground Nutmeg
  • 12g Ground Cinnamon
  • 20g Baking Powder
  • 280g Self Raising Flour
  • 180g Broken walnuts
  • 560g Carrot, grated
  • Mascarpone Icing:
  • 80g Butter, unsalted
  • 100g Icing Sugar
  • 200g Mascarpone

Preheat the oven to 160C

Beat the egg and the sugar in a mixer with the paddle attachment until thick and creamy, then gradually add in the sunflower oil.

Mix all the dry ingredients together, sieving the flours in as well.

Add the combined dry ingredients to the egg and sugar mixture, and fold in with a spatula.

Drain any excess moisture from the grated carrots and add fold into the mixture, when completely combined together, place into the greased and lined nine-inch cake tin.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes at 160c. Then after 30 minutes turn the temperature down to 140c and bake for another 30 minutes. Check that it has cooked through by inserting a skewer into the cake; it should be clean when removed.

Delia's Creole Christmas Cake

This is the most delicious cake I have ever eaten, and so is the "scrape"! It is as much fruit as cake, so you can eat it as a pud with cream.

Do not worry about how much booze there seems to be. The mixture steeps for so long before cooking that you can eat this and drive.

Do not be tempted to add a topping. This ruins it.



  • For the pre-soaking:
  • 3 tablespoons rum
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • 3 tablespoons cherry brandy
  • 3 tablespoons port
  • 1½ teaspoons Angostura bitters
  • ½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ level teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ level teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ level teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 level tablespoon molasses sugar
  • 2 oz (50 g) glacé cherries, chopped
  • 1 lb (450 g) raisins
  • 4 oz (110 g) pitted no-soak prunes, chopped
  • 8 oz (225 g) currants
  • 4 oz (110 g) mixed candied peel
  • 2 oz (50 g) mixed chopped nuts
  • For the cake:
  • 9 oz (250 g) self-raising flour
  • 9 oz (250 g) demerara sugar
  • 9 oz (250 g) butter, at room temperature
  • 5 large eggs


You will also need an 8 inch (20 cm) square cake tin, or a 9 inch (23 cm) round tin, greased, and the base and sides lined with a double thickness of silicone paper (baking parchment).


One week before you intend to bake the cake, measure out the rum, brandy, cherry brandy, port, bitters and 3 tablespoons water into a large saucepan. Then add the rest of the pre-soaking ingredients, ticking them with a pencil as you go to make sure nothing gets left out. Now stir and bring the mixture up to simmering point, then, keeping the heat low, simmer very gently for 15 minutes. After that allow everything to cool completely, then pour the mixture into a large jar with a lid or an airtight plastic container and leave it in the fridge for seven days, shaking or stirring it around from time to time.

When you're ready to bake the cake, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C). All you do is measure out the flour, sugar and softened butter into a very large mixing bowl, then add the eggs and either whisk or beat with a wooden spoon until everything is blended. Now gradually fold in the fruit mixture until it's all evenly distributed. Then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, levelling the surface with the back of the spoon. Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 3 hours without opening the door, then cover the cake with a double thickness of silicone paper and continue to bake it for a further hour or until the centre feels springy when lightly touched.

Cool the cake for 45 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. When it's completely cold, wrap in double silicone paper and then foil and store in an airtight container.

There's no need to feed this cake as it already has enough booze, but it does improve with keeping for about 1 month before cutting.

Ella’s Beetroot Chocolate Cake

A few weeks ago, we were introduced to the writings of Ella Woodward. Now her recipes are in the Daily Telegraph. Between the two events, my wife had started making Beetroot Chocolate Cake, first to address a glut of beetroot, and second because beetroot is now deemed a 'superfood', so it appears rather often in the household diet. Here we go:

  • For the cake
  • 1 large beetroot (250g)
  • 400g buckwheat flour
  • 360g apple puree
  • 1 mug maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Coconut oil, for greasing
  • For the frosting
  • 100g coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder

Cook the beetroot whole, with skin on, either by steaming for an hour or boiling for about 30 minutes. When cooked and cool, you’ll find by squeezing the skin, you can get it off in one go. Wear a washing up glove.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

Chop up the beetroot and blend to a puree. And add to all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl, and mix till smooth and creamy.

Grease a 20-25cm cake tin with coconut oil, pour in the mix and bake for about 20 minutes, or till it passes the knife test.

While the cake is cooling, place the coconut cream in a bowl or mug with 3 tbsp boiling water and stir until totally melted. Add this to a blender with the almond butter, maple syprup and cacao and blend until smooth.

Harvest Moon Cake

The recipe is courtesy of Diana Henry, and is one of the most more-ish things I have ever come across. Generally, her recipes suit people who do not have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen.

Serves 10 (20cm Spring-form tin)

  • 115g Butter
  • 75g Light Brown Soft Sugar
  • 75ml Maple Syrup
  • 1 Lrg Egg
  • 225g Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1 tsp each of Baking Powder, Ground Cinnamon, Grated Nutmeg
  • 225g Unsweetened Apple Sauce (bought or made from bramley apples, pureed)
  • 100g Chopped Pecans
  • Icing:
  • 200g Icing Sugar
  • 50g Unsalted Butter
  • 3 tbsp Double Cream
  • 4 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • Decoration:
  • 50g Pecans
  • 3 tbsp Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon

Preheat Oven 180C / 350F / Gas 4. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the maple syrup and egg, beat until blended.

Combine dry ingredients except nuts in a bowl, gradually add this to the wet mixture a third at a time alternating with the apple sauce. Stir in the pecans.

Pour mixture into a lined tin and bake for 35-40mins until a skewer comes out clean.

Icing: beat icing sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the cream and maple syrup.

Using a palette knife, spread over the cake.

Decoration: Grind pecans with sugar and cinnamon in a food processor. Sprinkle!

Italian Christmas pudding cake


Christmas has gone and panettone may be less easy to find; generally speaking I find it hard to take Nigella Lawson seriously. However I have to say that this cake is one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten and of course it can be and in my opinion should be, made all year!

  • 625g/1lb 6oz panettone (or pandoro)
  • 6 tbsp Tuaca liqueur (or rum, brandy or Marsala)
  • 2 free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 75g/2½oz caster sugar
  • 500g/1lb 2oz mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 250ml/9fl oz double cream, at room temperature
  • 125ml/4½fl oz Marsala
  • 75g/2¾oz marrons glacés, chopped (optional)
  • 125g/4½oz mini chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
  • 100g/3½oz pistachios, chopped
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

1. Using a serrated knife, cut the panettone roughly into 1cm slices, then use about a third of these to line the bottom of a 23cm/9in springform cake tin. Tear off pieces to fit so that there are no gaps: panettone is fabulously soft and mouldable, so this isn’t a hard job.

Drizzle two tablespoons of the Tuaca (or other liqueur) over it so that the panettone lining is dampened. It looks like a beautiful golden patchwork made out of cake.

2. Now get on with the luscious filling. Whisk – using a freestanding electric mixer for ease- the eggs and sugar until very frothy and increased in volume and lightness.

3. More slowly, whisk in the mascarpone and double cream, then gradually whisk in the Marsala and carry on whisking until the mixture is thick and spreadable. Remove 250ml (a good cupful) to a bowl or other container, cover and put in the fridge: this is for the top layer, which is not added until you serve the cake.

4. Crumble the marrons glacés into the big bowl of mascarpone cream mixture, followed by 100g of the chocolate chips and 75g of the chopped pistachios, and fold in. Use half of this creamy filling to top the panettone layer that is lining the cake tin.

5. Use another third of the panettone slices to cover the cream filling, again leaving no holes for the cream to escape through. Dampen with another two tablespoons of liqueur.

6. Spoon on the other half of the cream mixture and spread it evenly. Then top with a third and final layer of the panettone, covering the cream as before, and drizzle over it the last two tablespoons of liqueur. Cover tightly with cling film, pressing down on the top a little, and put in the fridge overnight or for up to two days.

7. When you are ready to serve, take the cake out of the fridge, unmould and sit it on a flat plate or cake stand, then spread with the reserved mascarpone mixture. Don’t try to lift the cake off the base as the panettone slices at the bottom are too delectably damp.

8. Scatter the top – and all around the cake, if wished – with the remaining chocolate chips and chopped pistachios and your pomegranate jewels. These sprinklings also provide beauteous camouflage for any less than aesthetically uplifting edges of the spring form base which may be visible.

Mrs Vigart's Stollen

Along with the growing popularity of Christmas Markets along European lines, we find the supermarkets stocking more and more goodies form countries where evergreens are indigenous and snow not uncommon at Christmas. My own favourite is Streusel, but Stollen seems ubiquitous. Here is a recipe reproduced from the old Ramsden WI cake book, which allegedly came from the Court of Saxony. This requires some explaining:

Augustus II of Poland (1670-1733), nicknamed The Strong, adopted the Catholic faith and fought – and lost – many wars in Europe, including Sweden. Like his predecessor, he became Elector of Saxony. Under his rule the Saxon Court became known as the most dissolute in Europe. Augustus did much for the cultural life of Dresden and was active in many ways, with many illegitimate children (said to number 300). He discovered that his Court Baker, at Dresden, had developed a new recipe – the famous "STOLLEN" – and placed an order for the regular delivery of that cake to his castle.

But there was a snag.

By that time he was an ardent Catholic and complied with the fasting rules of his faith. Wishing to partake of the cake on all occasions, including Christmas Eve, he applied to Pope Pius VI for a special dispensation, which was promptly granted. Hence the popularity of "STOLLEN" in Saxony and later on, the whole of Germany.


Above: Dresden Christmas market. A modest affair

Ingredients: (I believe these have been converted rather literally from the metric. Ed.)

  • 1lb 2oz strong flour
  • 1½oz. Fresh yeast
  • 7oz butter
  • 2½ oz granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5½ 1/2oz sultanas
  • 5½ ½ oz currants
  • 2½ ½ oz mixed peel
  • 2½ ½ oz ground almonds
  • Grated rind of one lemon
  • 4 oz milk Icing sugar


Dissolve yeast in 3 tbsp warm milk (extra), add a little sugar and 1 tbsp flour (extra). Leave for about ten minutes in a warm place until frothy.

Mix flour, sugar, lemon rind and almonds and keep in a warm place. Add yeast mixture to the dry ingredients, knead and beat, gradually adding the milk, warm fruit and about 60z of the melted butter. Beat well until it lifts off the bowl. Leave 1 ½ hours in a warm place (eg airing cupboard) until risen to about twice its original size.

Meanwhile prepare a greased baking sheet and cover it with greased timn foil. Keep in a warm place.

Knock back the Stollen, shape it into a loaf and place it on the foil. Let it rise again for about 15 mins then brush with the egg yolk and place in a 400/190 degree oven. After half-an-hour lower the heat to 140 and leave for a further 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and before it has cooled brush it with the remaining butter and cover fairly thickly with the sieved icing sugar.

Stollen keeps well in the freezer


By Peter Saugman and others


Ali’s Magic Ice Cream

  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Golden Syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Bicarb of Soda
  • 550ml Double cream
  • 1 x 400g condensed milk

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper

Heat sugar & syrup together until a caramel colour is reached - boil for 2-3 mins Remove from heat and covering hands with an oven glove add bicarb of soda. It will swell. Then pour onto paper and leave to cool & harden. Break into bits.

Add to whisked double cream with i can of condensed milk added - pour into container and freeze

Apple Crumble

Chefs and cookery writers seem to feel obliged to muck around with classic dishes, to prove that they are innovative, or satisfy their publishers that they have something "new" to offer. A classic example of this is apple crumble, with the definition of crumble seemingly extending to include oats, almonds and all sorts of other things.

Here's a proper recipe:

  • 1/2 jar mincemeat (optional extra – delicious!)
  • 4 Bramley cooking apples. peeled cored and sliced
  • 2 heaped tablespoons sugar

Crumble mixture:

  • 6 oz flour
  • 4 oz butter
  • 2 oz caster sugar

Blitz crumble mixture in Magimix to breadcrumbs. Traditionalists may prefer to rub in the butter: see Tips and Tricks.

Place mincemeat and apples in a deep dish. Sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Pop crumble mix on top. Bake at 160degC (pre-heated oven) for approx 45 mins.

Delicious with Creme Fraiche.

Boodles' Fool

Serves 4-6 people

  • 4 oz sponge cake broken into pieces
  • 2 oranges, 1 lemon, juice of 4 oranges and 2 lemons
  • 1½-2 oz caster sugar
  • ¼ pint double cream
  • whipped cream and orange slices to decorate

Arrange the pieces of sponge cake in the base of a glass serving dish. Stir the fruit rinds/zests and juices with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved.

Whip the cream until thick but not stiff, then slowly whip in the fruit juice and rinds. Spoon over the sponge cakes and leave in a cool place until the juices have seeped into and soaked the sponge cake.

Decorate with whipped cream and orange slices.

Elderflower and Gooseberry Ice Cream

The elderflowers are coming into bloom and while you can only get shop-bought gooseberries, if you are planning to make elderflower cordial, don’t just leave it in the bottle!

  • 3oz vanilla caster sugar
  • ½ pint double cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Thin slice lemon peel

Fruit Mould: This recipe is reprinted from a Ramsden Newsletter going back over thirty years.

One of the sharper fruits is used – gooseberries, redcurrants, white- or blackcurrants. Cover 1lb (450g) with 2oz. (50g) sugar and leave for some hours. Cook for a few moments then press though a sieve. Pour the pulp into a saucepan over a low heat and, as it begins to bubble, and two tablespoons of potato flour (or cornflour) dissolved in a little water, a large pinch of powdered cinnamon, a smaller one of ground cloves and a few drops of vanilla essence and 2oz. (50g) of sugar. Stir and simmer until it becomes detached from the sides of the pan. Put it in the glass dish in which it will be served, then chill for at least three hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Green Tomato Fool (an alternative to gooseberry fool.) This recipe is reprinted from a Ramsden Newsletter going back over thirty years.

Scald 2lbs. (900g) green tomatoes until the skins can be removed, then cut up and stew with 1lb. (450g) white sugar and ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg. Pass through a sieve, taste for sweetness, adding more sugar if necessary, and stir in a cup (or more) of double cream. Chill well and serve in a glass bowl.

Jen's Avochoco pots

A large standard bar of chili chocalate at least 70% cocoa. 1 large avocado (2 small) ripe. Can of coconut milk. 2 tsp of honey. Pinch of chili powder (medium). Optional beaten egg white to lighten the mixture. optional dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche on top.

Over a low heat melt coconut milk and honey. Add choc. broken into pieces and pinch of chilli.

If adding beaten egg white, pour into bowl and incorporate.

Pour into small serving dishes - as it is v rich. Chill an hour before serving.

This will keep fine for 3 days in the fridge - and possibly longer, but we've always eaten it all by then

Holly’s White Chocolate Mousse

(Serves 4)

  • 100g white chocolate – Green & Black’s is good
  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 level tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 2 egg whites
  • 25g white caster sugar
  • Cocoa for dusting
  • White choc chips for decorating (optional)

(You can use more orange zest if a less sweet taste is preferred)

Have ready 4 ramekins or serving glasses, or it looks good served in pretty china teacups – a use for Granny’s best!

Break up the chocolate place in small pan with the cream and zest. Gently heat, whisking until the choc has fully melted. Transfer to large bowl, cover, leave to cool and chill for several hours or overnight.

Whisk egg whites until stiff using an electric whisk ,then sprinkle over the sugar and whisk until really thick and glossy.

Whisk the cream mixture until it forms soft fluffy peaks, then fold into the egg whites in two goes.

Spoon into the cups or glasses and chill.

Before serving dust with cocoa and add the choc chips if desired.

Lemon Verbena Ice Cream

This was the first non-mainstream herb my mother taught me to identify. Sixty years later here is a use for it! Only fresh leaves will do.

  • 350ml milk
  • Two generous handfuls of lemon verbena leaves, torn up a bit
  • Quarter vanilla pod split lengthways
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 250ml double cream

Gently heat the milk with the vanilla pod and the herb leaves. As it comes to the boil stir the mixture well fully to disperse the flavourings. Remove from the heat. Cover and leave to infuse for an hour or so.

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Throw away the leaves and strain the verbena-infused milk through a fine sieve onto the egg yolks and whisk together.

Pour the mixture into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over a very gentle heat, constantly stirring wit ha wooden spoon. Do not let it boil.

When the mixture has slightly thickened, pour into a stainless steel bowl (for quickest cooling) and stir in the cream. Once cooled, chill.

The mixture is now ready for your ice cream machine. Serve with raspberries.

Malteser Ice Cream

Litre of bought good vanilla ice cream 

Box of Malteser's or 2 large packets

By the time you get the ice cream home it is soft enough to put into a mixing bowl. Bask maltesers and add the ice cream and then put back into container and freeze.

Mary Foxwood's Rhubarb and Ginger Meringue (Serves 4)

  • 4 trifle sponges
  • Stewed rhubarb
  • A few slices of stem ginger
  • Pre-baked meringue top

Make meringue top to fit dish. Then, when needed, roughly crumble trifle sponges into base of shallow dish, spread on rhubarb, dot with the sliced stem ginger and a little of the juice from the jar, and finally place cooked meringue on top. Serve with cream. And it's delicious!

N.B. You can, of course, spread raw meringue mixture on the top and then bake the whole thing in the oven, but I think it is nicer my way.

Nettle Sorbet (from Kathy Slack at


Out on limb here I grant you. But humour me.

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 300ml water
  • Small bunch of nettle leaves
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Put the caster sugar and 200ml of water in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Don’t be tempted to stir it or it will crystalise. Have patience. Once the sugar has gone, turn the heat up, bring to the boil and chuck in the nettles. You want to keep it bubbling at 101-102 degrees for 4-5 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and the remaining water and blend. Next, chill for 1 hour and then pass the liquid through a sieve to remove the bits. You will be left with unpleasant, sickly sweet, green pond water and you will curse my name. But have faith.

Churn the chilled liquid in an ice-cream maker then serve with lemon zest.

Nigella’s Nutella Cheesecake

I don’t like Nutella. I like Ferrero Rocher even less, but I have to say, this cheesecake is ridiculously delicious and apparently extremely easy to make. You can buy chopped toasted hazlenuts in Waitrose above the sultanas.

Serves 8-12. You must serve straight from the fridge.

  • 250 g digestive biscuits
  • 75 g soft unsalted butter
  • 1 x 400 g jar Nutella (at room temperature)
  • 100 g chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 500 g cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 60 g icing sugar (sifted)

Break the digestives into the bowl of a processor, add the butter and a 15ml tablespoon of Nutella, and blitz until it starts to clump. Add 25g/3 tablespoons of the hazelnuts and continue to pulse until you have a damp, sandy mixture.

Tip into a 23cm/9inch round springform and press into the base either using your hands or the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to chill.

Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and then add the remaining Nutella to the cream cheese mixture, and continue beating until combined.

Take the springform out of the fridge and carefully smooth the Nutella mixture over the base. Scatter the remaining chopped hazelnuts on top to cover and place the tin in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight. Serve straight from the fridge for best results.

Peach and raspberry trifle

Before we came to Ramsden I used to make a trifle rather like this every Christmas. Then I lost the recipe. One of the delicious puds at the Jubilee lunch seemed very like my old favourite so I have been looking for a similar recipe, and here it is. There are various options described. That's the whole point about trifle: it should end up as one gloriously indulgent mess! I always reckon trifle is better the next day, anyway.

  • 6 sponge fingers or macaroons
  • 250ml white wine (you can mix a dry and pudding wine if you like, for sweetness)
  • 4-6tbs framboise or other raspberry liquer
  • I pt double cream
  • Half-a-pint of milk
  • 2 eggs and two more yolks
  • 1tbsp sifted cornflour
  • Vanilla caster sugar (or caster sugar and a bit of vanilla essence or put a bit of vanilla in the milk/cream when you scald it)
  • 12 oz raspberries (try to buy loose so you can taste one first)
  • Icing sugar to taste
  • 5 ripe peaches (again be sure they taste of something)
  • Juice of a lemon

Put the macaroons/fingers in a bowl and pour over half the wine and half the liquer. Don't worry if it is all absorbed before all the biscuit is moist.

Beat the eggs with the cornflour. Bring the milk and half the cream to scalding point. Pour over the eggs and thickener, return to the pan and whisk until thickened. Add the caster sugar to taste and pour over the macaroons/fingers. Let this custard cool.

Puree the raspberries in a processor (or by hand), sieve and add icing sugar to taste. Pour this over the cold custard. Scald skin and slice the peaches and put them on top of the raspberries. Now combine the lemon juice with the rest of the alcohol, and stir in a little sugar if needed. Blend all this with the rest of the cream, and put all this on top of the peaches.

Keep the whole thing for yourself.

Pimms Jelly

Returning from holiday to a cold wet Britain, I found the idea for Pimms Jelly in the in-flight magazine. It seemed a good use of the Pimms if the weather was too awful for Pimms o’clock ever to come round. The recipe below is based on Gordon Ramsay’s. Don’t feel limited to strawberries. I prefer raspberries any time.

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Makes 4 - 6 jellies

  • 4 oz/115g golden super fine/caster sugar
  • ½ cup/100ml water
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ oz/12g gelatine leaves
  • ¾ cup/175ml Pimm’s No. 1
  • 2 cups/500ml diet fizzy lemonade
  • 8 oz/250g fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
  • Few torn fresh mint leaves

Place the sugar into a small saucepan, add the water and lemon juice, stir. Gently dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Once dissolved simmer for a few minutes then remove from the heat.

Break the gelatine leaves into small pieces and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 5 minutes then add to the sugar solution and stir until thoroughly dissolved.

Pour the sugar syrup into a bowl, add the Pimm’s and the lemonade. Place the bowl over a bowl of iced water and leave to cool until the jelly is just starting to set – about 30 minutes. If you stir the jelly from time to time this will speed up the process.

As soon as the jelly begins to set add the strawberries and stir, add the mint leaves and stir again.

Pour the jelly into large wine glasses, or glass bowls and place in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.

Plums (La Cuisine de Jacqueline)

Our large modern plums are a hybrid of the wild cherry plum and the sloe, the hard dusky black grape-sized plums still found in our hedgerows. We know this prunus domestica was grown in Roman Britain. Another type of plum, the damson, is similar in appearance but slightly larger.

Gages (greengages), which are round and greenish-gold, arrived here in the 16th century from France, where they are known as Reine Claude.

There are hundreds of varieties of large plum. Victoria are the most famous in the UK although darker varieties are used on the continent for plum brandy, while Agen plums are dried like prunes and then soked in Armagnac for 6/12months. Wonderful at Christmas!

Plum Croûtes (La Cuisine de Jacqueline)

This recipe sounds unpromising, but these crisp, sweet croûtes topped with buttery caramelised plums are very good – just like delicious little tarts. Elizabeth David has a version in French Country Cooking but without almonds.

  • 2 slices good fresh bread
  • 3-4 plums, stoned and halved
  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar
  • Almonds

Butter the bread on one side, going right to the edges. Press the halved plums firmly into the bread. Dab half teaspoon butter onto each halved plum. Butter an oven dish and place slices into dish, plum side up. Sprinkle with sugar and almonds. Bake in the top of the oven at Gas 4/180C/350F. Serve with cream, custard or ice-cream.

Plum Soufflé (La Cuisine de Jacqueline)

  • 8oz Victoria plums
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • Icing sugar

Stone the plums and cook gently with the water until almost a purée. Beat the egg whites until stiff and beat the egg yolks separately, until creamy.

Butter soufflé or gratin dish (1 pint capacity). Mix yolks into cooled plums and fold in the egg whites. Pour into buttered dish and cook for 20 minutes Gas 5/190C/375F.

Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.

Poached Pears in Red Wine

Back in the 1970’s, when my friends started to get married, their new wives began to produce dinner party food. This is one of the first things I remember striking me as being “sophisticated”. Serves six:

  • Six ripe pears
  • 450ml red wine
  • Pared rind and juice of two oranges
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 150ml ruby port

Peel the pears leaving the stalks intact. Make the wine up to 800ml with boiling water and pour into a saucepan, adding the orange rind and juice, and the sugar and spices. Heat, stirring gently, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the pears. You can submerge them by putting some crumpled and wetted greaseproof paper over them, to hold them down, put the lid on the pan and simmer for 20-25mins, till they are soft. Alternatively, you can turn them regularly, with the lid off, if you prefer to watch yourself cook. Either way will give you an even colour.

Remove the pears and put in a serving bowl. Bring the liquid to the boil and add the port. Boil until thick and syrupy. Strain and pour over the pears.

Rose-scented Strawberries (La Cuisine de Jacqueline)

Redolent of Sicily's Moorish influences – these are sumptuous without being rich. Serve without cream as this would muddy the flavours

  • 1lb. Strawberries
  • Unrefined sugar
  • 1-2 tabs rosewater

Slice the strawberries and sprinkle with sugar. Pour over rosewater, stir and leave to macerate for half an hour or more. Chill in the refrigerator. 

Strawberries are good in salad served with rocket leaves and balsamic vinegar and olive oil, with a little sugar and salt.

Squashed Peach Melba

Last year we discovered those slightly flattened pale green peaches. Suddenly they seem to be everywhere. It is easy to be put off buying them because they look as though they will never ripen. Cut in half, their flatness makes them good for putting ice cream on.

  • Four medium ripe but firm squashed peaches
  • 500ml white wine
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Two vanilla pods: scrape out the seeds but keep the pods
  • Zest of half an orange
  • Tub of really good vanilla ice cream
  • For the sauce
  • 450g (1 lb) raspberries
  • Two tbsp icing sugar
  • Squeeze of lemon

Of course, you can use this sauce for absolutely anything, and so you should!

Peel the peaches. In a wide bottomed saucepan put the sugar vanilla and zest in the wine and melt the sugar. Put the peaches in this liquor and bring to simmer, reduce heat and gently cook until the fruit is soft. Leave to cool in the liquor and then peel off the skins.

Stir the icing sugar and lemon juice in the raspberries over a low heat until you have a sauce, and sieve this. You can blitz if you’d rather.

If , like me, you like separate tastes, put the sauce in a bowl with the fruit on top and the ice cream on top of that. Otherwise, pour the sauce on top.