Summer always feels a bit like playtime, which is why summer desserts – essentially an excuse to consume fruit and berries, booze and cream – always seem so very right. The warm weather demands that they are light by nature – thank you, whisked egg whites! – which also makes them impossible to resist. Keep the playtime theme going with the ingredients, too, swapping out the fruit suggested with whatever you have to hand.
Hazelnut and cherry meringue cake (pictured top)
My colleague Jens Klotz is from the Black Forest region of southern Germany, where the famous gateau of the same name originates. This utterly delicious meringue cake is inspired by his love for cherries and macaroons, as well as the cake he knows so very well. Get ahead by making the meringue layers the day before and keeping them well wrapped, but don’t assemble the cake until the day you want to serve it. And be sure to let the cake sit for at least an hour before serving, because this helps soften the meringue and improves its texture.
Prep 20 min
Cook 2 hr, including maceration
Rest 1 hr+
For the macerated cherries
600g fresh cherries, pitted and halved (530g)
40g caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
For the hazelnut and chocolate meringue
230g caster sugar
130g egg whites (from 4 large eggs)
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), melted and kept warm
220g blanched hazelnuts, well toasted, 150g finely blitzed, the rest roughly broken
For the whipped cream
500ml double cream
20g icing sugar
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
For the hazelnut spread
120g chocolate hazelnut spread
½ tsp flaked sea salt
Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. Put the cherries and sugar in a medium bowl and set aside to macerate for two hours while you get on with everything else.
To make the meringues, put the sugar on a small baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, then put in the oven to warm up for five minutes (you don’t want it to melt at all). Put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high for a minute or two, until they make soft peaks. Remove the sugar from the oven and turn down the temperature to 145C (125C fan)/280F/gas 1½. With the mixer running on medium-low, slowly tip the warm sugar into the whipped egg whites and, once it’s all added, turn the speed back up to medium-high and whisk for five minutes until the meringue mix forms stiff peaks and has turned glossy. Using a spatula, gently mix in the melted chocolate and the 150g blitzed hazelnuts.
Line two large oven trays with greaseproof paper and use a pencil to mark out three 20cm circles – you’ll have two circles on one tray and one on the other. Divide the meringue mixture between the three circles and spread it out evenly so it fills the circles. Bake for 40 minutes, until crisp and slightly puffed up, then remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Tip the cherries into a sieve set over a small saucepan to catch the juice – you will have about 80ml cherry juice – and set the cherries aside. Put the juice pan on a medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for six to eight minutes, until thick, syrupy and reduced by two thirds (take the pan off the heat if it reduces more quickly). Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and reserved cherries, and set aside.
Put the cream and icing sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk for three to four minutes, until the mix forms medium peaks that hold their shape (alternatively, whisk it by hand). Fold in the lemon zest and set aside.
Put the hazelnut spread and salt in a small saucepan on a medium heat and warm gently for two to three minutes, until melted and spoonable.
To assemble, put one meringue on a cake stand or round platter. Drizzle with a third of the hazelnut spread, then spoon on a third of the whipped cream followed by a third of the cherries and a tablespoon of their syrup. Sprinkle over a third of the broken hazelnuts, then top with another meringue and repeat twice with layers of meringue, spread, cream and cherry mix. Scatter the remaining nuts on top, then leave to sit for an hour before serving, or for up to three hours.
Blackberry, yoghurt and orange blossom fool
This is an easy, simple summer pudding that’s quite quick to put together. Get ahead by making the crumble up to three days in advance (keep it in a well-sealed container). Feel free to swap the berries for another fruit, and use creme fraiche instead of yoghurt, if you like.
Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr (including maceration)
For the blackberries
540g blackberries, cut in half
45g caster sugar
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
For the oat crumble
50g jumbo oats, 30g blitzed finely in food processor
20g plain flour
40g wholemeal spelt flour (or regular wholemeal flour)
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ tsp flaked sea salt
40g demerara sugar
45g unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp golden syrup
2 tsp double cream
For the cream filling
255ml double cream
255g Greek-style yoghurt
45g icing sugar
1½ tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tsp finely grated lime zest
Put the berries in a bowl with the sugar, lime zest and orange blossom water, if using, and leave to macerate for an hour while you get on with everything else.
Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan)/325F/gas 3. Mix the first six ingredients for the crumble in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter, golden syrup and cream, and stir to combine. Transfer to a medium oven tray lined with greaseproof paper, then bake for 18 minutes, until golden. Leave to cool, then roughly break into a fine crumble with the back of a spoon.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Put the cream, yoghurt, icing sugar and vanilla paste in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk for three to four minutes, until the cream mix has medium peaks that hold their shape (alternatively, whip it by hand). Fold in a teaspoon of the lime zest, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
To assemble the dish, spoon 30g of the cream mix into six small 9cm high x 6cm wide glasses. Top each one with 30g macerated berries and 10g oat crumble, then repeat the layering twice more, so you have three layers of each component, finishing with the crumble on top. Sprinkle over the remaining teaspoon of lime zest and serve at once.
Peach and grape flaugnarde with cold vanilla cream
A flaugnarde is the more versatile relative of the clafoutis. It has a tendency to deflate almost the moment it comes out of the oven, so serve it as quickly as possible.
Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr 20 min
380g sable (black seedless) grapes
4 ripe yellow peaches (400g), halved, stoned and each peach cut into 6 wedges
90g golden caster sugar, plus ½ tbsp extra
1-2 lemons, finely grated, to get 1½ tsp zest, and juiced, to get 1 tbsp
2 tbsp dark rum, or brandy
50g unsalted butter
450ml double cream
2½ tsp vanilla bean paste
50ml whole milk
50g Greek-style yoghurt
½ tbsp demerara sugar
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Put the grapes and peaches in a 28cm x 7cm-high shallow cast-iron pan, add 20g of the sugar, the lemon juice, rum and a pinch of salt, mix to coat, then roast for 20 minutes, until the fruits release their juices and they are bubbling – the grapes and peaches should have softened, but still retained their shape. Carefully spoon the fruit into a colander set over a large bowl, to catch all of their juices, then pour the juices into a small bowl, and set aside along with the pan.
Turn down the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. Put the butter in a small saucepan on a medium heat and cook for five to six minutes, until it’s starting to brown and smell nutty. Tip into a small bowl and leave to cool.
Mix 300ml cream with the extra half-tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla, then pour into a jug and refrigerate.
For the custard, put the butter, remaining 70g sugar, lemon zest, eggs, a teaspoon and a half of vanilla, milk, yoghurt, the remaining 150ml cream and a quarter-teaspoon of salt in a blender and blitz until smooth and pancake batter-like. Set aside or chill.
When you’re ready to bake, pour the custard into the same 28cm pan you used to cook the grapes and peaches, and carefully spoon the fruits on top; some will sink, but that’s fine. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar, carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until risen and uniformly golden on top.
Drizzle half the reserved grape and peach juices on top and serve the rest on the side with the bowl of cold cream.