Berry Brioche Puddings and Rose Ice-Cream
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
A Fresh, Vibrant Summer Dessert
By Maurice Alexander
Image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay
Some days, Summer’s heat, along with the lazing around the house and garden, leave me without an appetite for any sort of eating. A small bowl of a light cold pasta dish or a segment of a flavoursome baguette of cured meats, rich cheese spread, crisp lettuce and fruity tomato slices are enough to satisfy me for hours during the bright sun-drenched days of July without thought towards dessert. However, a chilled berry pudding served with an accompanying scoop of rose ice-cream is one exception; clean tasting and a beautiful pairing of fruit and floral flavours, bestowed onto the dish from the sun-ripened Summer berries and the fragrance of a fine rosewater.
These light puddings are moulded in the stainless-steel cups typically reserved for chocolate fondants, the ones that look like thimbles for giants. The outside of the pudding is composed of slices of tender brioche, a French creation that is halfway between bread and cake, and the center being a treasure trove of sweetened blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, cherries- any small fruit at your disposal. All but strawberries which cannot be used due to their high water content.
400g brioche loaf
1kg mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries- excluding strawberries)
200g golden caster sugar
A squeeze of lemon juice
Begin with the fruit centres since the fruit needs to cool to room temperature after being placed into a large saucepan with the sugar and slowly warmed through on a low heat until dissolved. You can use either fresh or frozen fruits, but depending on the amount of fruit you require, this recipe is for 4 to 8 people, one type might be more viable than the other.
The taste of each is equal but their physical appearance and final aesthetic appeal differs greatly, with frozen berries more liable to collapse into a mush under heat. If you’re preparing two fondant moulds in preparation for a lasting romantic dessert in the garden bathed in the red light of the Midsummer sun, then fresh whole fruit would be the better option, since you would only need around 100-200g of the fruit. If you were having a party with 7 guests, then the option with the greatest practicality would be to purchase a large kilogram bag of frozen summer berries from your local greengrocer or supermarket, assuming that you don’t have a cherry tree or berry bushes weighted down and bejewelled with the glistening bounty of the season.
Golden caster is used in place of plain white caster or granulated sugars as provides a deeper sweetness to desserts, think notes of caramel. Ripe berries, especially when thawed, are incredibly fragile and must be treated with the greatest of care during the time in the saucepan. It is for this reason I recommend swirling the pan during the first few minutes, before gently folding them around, paying attention to not render their soft flesh.
Whilst they are being heat through and turned, you will notice that a deep purple elixir begins to form in the bottom of the pan. This fruit liquor will be absorbed by the fruits, drape itself over the berries’ surface, and be used to moisten the brioche covering later. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the saucepan from the heat and squeeze in the juice of half of a fresh-cut lemon. The pale gold droplets of the lemon juice ensure that the berries preserve their passionate colours and gently souse them so that they are not too sickly sweet with the addition of the golden caster sugar. Cover the saucepan and allow its contents to cool thoroughly before moving forward with the recipe.
Remove the crust from the brioche until you are left the most soft and pale cubic rectangle. Cut this into strips about an inch side and a centimetre thick, like you’re cutting out bread soldiers for a child’s softly boiled egg. Strain the contents of the saucepan into a bowl to capture the fruits cooking liquid and dip the brioche stripes into it very briefly, just to cover them and not saturate them.
Grease the inner lining the fondant dishes with a flavourless oil, vegetable, sunflower or groundnut oil, and line them with these purplish-red strips, laying them overlapping and pressing them against the steel interior so that they fuse together. Once the fondant moulds have been lined with the brioche, spoon in the berries sitting in the sieve when you drained them from the saucepan. Just spoon them in until the mould is full and cut out a disk equal to the width and circumference, dip it in the fruit cooking liquid and use it to seal the fondant mould. Repeat this for all the fondant moulds and place them in the fridge to chill overnight.
When reading to serve, upturn them on a platter for distributing at the dining table or upturn onto each plate. They are best served with a rich and comforting side like gently whipped cream, vanilla ice-cream or rose ice-cream.
Ice-cream is incredibly easy to make, so its surprising that most people don’t do so. It makes an excellent home dessert and with the use of an ice-cream machine, any frozen dessert you wish to make will always have the perfect consistency. Rose was a common flavour for ice-cream during the Belle Epoch and due to its present popularity and suitability with the berry puddings, now is the perfect time to reveal how to make your own floral ice-cream.
500ml whole milk
150ml double cream
3 tablespoons cornflour
50g caster sugar
3 tablespoons liquid glucose
Rosewater to taste
Drops of pink food colouring
1 tablespoon of dried rose petals
Pour the milk, cream and the cornflour into a large saucepan and heat gradually until the contents of the pan come to the boil, stirring constantly. The cornflour must be added to a cold liquid if it is to function properly as a thickener, so be sure to add it at the beginning and not once the cream and milk have heat through or are boiling. Once boiling, remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the sugar and liquid glucose, stirring frequently to incorporate them into the white emulsion. At this point, add a teaspoon of the finest rosewater available to you, Nielsen-Massey products always recommended, and taste with a teaspoon. If the rose flavour is very week, as another fraction of the rosewater and taste. Repeat this until the ice cream mix is to your liking. Once you have perfected the flavour, you can focus on the ice creams appearance. Plain white ice cream looks incredibly boring, so I always add several drops of the food colouring until the mix is cheerfully pink and flecked with the magenta shards of rose petals.
Pour this into your ice cream making if you have one and follow whatever instructions it came with to create your frozen delight. Most people however don’t have such a gadget, but there’s no need to fret; lusciously smooth ice-cream is still in your grasp. Pour the mix into a freezable container, press some cling film onto the surface of the mix to prevent frost burns which will give the ice-cream a grainy, frosted texture, and place the lid onto the container. Place into a freezer and stir every 2 hours until the mix resembles ice-cream.