THE flavour of British summer berries is second to none so make the most of our fantastic homegrown crop while they are in peak season right now.
Of all the varieties of berries, raspberries are often considered to be the finest tasting because of their vivid colour, delicate texture and deliciously perfumed flavour.
What’s more, they contain more vitamin C than oranges and are high in fibre, folic acid, potassium, vitamin A and calcium – so they pack a hefty nutritional punch.
The majority of raspberries cultivated in the UK are actually grown in Scotland which has long been famous for its raspberry growing and which forms an important part of the Scottish economy.
And here’s something I leant this week - in the 1950s, raspberries were brought down from Scotland to London on a steam train known, quite romantically, as the ‘Raspberry Special’.
Although they are best enjoyed freshly picked, you can also cook with raspberries and create some really fragrant sauces (for both sweet and savoury dishes) and baked fruit desserts. Or heat them up with a little sugar and serve them with French toast for a cheeky weekend breakfast treat.
The addition of a few raspberries also really brightens up a summer salad or bowl of cereal or why not drop a few into your glass of lemonade or prosecco for a lovely hint of sweetness and colour.
This week’s recipe is a real hit in the restaurant at this time of year and tastes wonderful with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Try to roll the pastry fairly thin to keep the dish nice and light and to allow the flavours of the strawberries and raspberries to shine through. The addition of a little chocolate makes this a really tasty summer dessert.
Summer Berry & Chocolate Pastries
This recipe makes two large pastries which can be cut in half to serve four people.
375g ready-made puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp. chocolate spread (Nutella or similar)
3 tsp sugar plus a little extra for sprinkling
Butter for greasing
Pre-heat the oven to 180c and lightly grease a baking tray.
Carefully wash the fruit, taking care not to damage the delicate raspberries, and cut them into halves before adding to a bowl with the sugar.
Gently mix and set aside for 15 minutes to allow the juices and sugar to combine and dissolve.
Meanwhile, roll out the pastry and divide into four equal sections (you could create square or rectangular or whatever shape you want the finished pastries to be).
Place two of the pastry pieces onto the greased baking tray and divide the fruit between them, leaving about an inch gap around the edge.
Top each pile of fruit with a tablespoon of chocolate spread then, using a pastry brush, coat the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg.
Place the remaining two pieces of pastry on top of the fruit and seal the eggy edges together by crimping with your fingertips or using a fork (it should now resemble a pasty).
Finally, brush the top of the pastries with the remainder of the beaten egg and sprinkle each one with a little sugar. Create a little slit on the top with a knife to allow the steam to escape and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the pastry has turned golden.
Slice in half and serve with vanilla ice cream, mascarpone or custard.