I like to think of soft fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apricots and nectarines as a seasonal summer treat and make the most of them simply served on a platter with bowls of melted chocolate or a mixture of soft mascapone cheese and lemon curd for dipping.
Alternatively, try one of the two summer fruit recipes below. E.L.
APRICOT AND ALMOND TART (Serves 8)
1 packet Saxby's dessert pastry
100g (4oz) butter, softened
100g (4oz) caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
100g (4oz) ground almonds
4 tblsp plain flour
few drops vanilla essence
icing sugar, to dust
Heat the oven to 210ºC / Gas 7.
Lightly grease a 10 inch / 26cm round flan tin (with removable base). Roll out the pastry and use to line the tin. Press a piece of greaseproof paper into the pastry case and bake 'blind' in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Reduce the oven to 180ºC / Gas 4.
Place the butter, sugar, eggs, ground almonds, flour and vanilla essence into a food processor and process for a few seconds. Scrape down the sides and process again until all the ingredients are well combined.
Carefully remove the paper from the pastry case and spread the almond mixture over the base. Halve th apricots and remove the stones. Press the apricot halves, cut-side down, into the almond mixture.
Cover the flan tin with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 30 minutes or until well-risen and lightly browned. When ready to serve, dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or cold.
Note: the mixture will sink down slightly around the fruit as the tart cools - this is quite normal. Use other fruit such as stoned plums or cherries - they are equally delicious!
RASPBERRY AND LEMON TORTE (Serves 6 - 8)
A deliciously light and airy cake, made with semolina and ground almonds but no butter or oil - a perfect end to a summer meal.
3 eggs, separated
4oz / 100g caster sugar
grated rind and juice of lemon
2oz / 50g fine semolina
½ oz / 15g ground almonds
For the filling:
5 fl oz / 150ml whipping or double cream
about 4 tblsp lemon curd
4oz / 100g fresh raspberries
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC / Gas 4.
Grease and line an 8 inch / 20 cm deep round cake tin with greased, greaseproof paper. In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale and light in texture. Add the lemon juice and continue to whisk until the mixture is thick. Fold in the grated lemon rind, semolina and almonds. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until they form soft peaks. Carefully fold the whites into the egg yolk mixture and pour into the prepared tin.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until well risen and pale golden brown. Leave in the tin for a few minutes then turn out, remove the paper and leave to cool completely. Cut the cake in half horizontally. Whisk the cream until it just holds its shape, and spread over the bottom half of the cake. Swirl the lemon curd through the cream and sprinkle over the raspberries. Put the second half of the cake on top and dust with icing sugar. Chill until ready to serve.