I'm not saying that I expect friends to have created the perfect strawberry mille-feuille or the lovliest of summer fruit jellies. I'm just saying that it is nice to have a little something to accompany the berries when it is a special occasion. Trouble is, I am often lacking inspiration in this department at this time of year. The berries are indeed so lovely on their own and it really is too hot to be slaving away at the stove. I've concluded that the embellishment needs only very little effort. A few crushed meringues and cream make for a moreish 'Eton Mess'. A little plain yoghurt, some crunchy brown sugar and a hot grill or blowtorch make for a tasty little brulée. Even a little good balsamic vinegar sprinkled atop strawberries makes me happy - virtually no effort. If I'm feeling a little more adventurous (or the weather is a little cooler) I might make this simple yet scrumptious clafoutis.
I bought some lovely Scottish raspberries last week (Scottish raspberries are by far the lovliest I've discovered to date) and I'd eaten a fair few for breakfasts with yoghurt and a touch of honey. I had a few left over though and fancied doing something a little more exciting with them. I found some marscapone in the fridge and also had a bit of plain cake that was going a bit stale in the bread bin. It was obvious - a raspberry trifle (of sorts) was called for!
If I am being honest, this is not really a trifle at all, since trifles should actually contain custard. This one does not. It was all about speed and not having to mop my brow to much in the heat you understand... However, I decided it did not matter. Some years ago, I attended the International Trifle Festival (a must for any self-respecting lover of trifles) in the village of Terling, Essex - there was a bacon and egg trifle featured amongst the 50 or so entries. I think anything goes really!
I doused the sponge in alcohol, but you could use fruit juice. Ideally, I would have gone for an eau de framboise, but sadly the drinks cupboard didn't yield such delights. Instead I used up the last of last year's damson gin. Most acceptable! Quantities are vague - I just threw it all in. As you do.
Serves 1 but easily doubled/tripled/quadrupled etc...
Plain sponge cake (angel or madeira cake works well, or try crushed amaretti biscuits)
2-3 heaped tablespoons of marscapone
handful of raspberries
caster sugar, to taste
eau de framboise, Cointreau, fruit juice or other appropriated liquid
dollop of creme fraiche
1. Take a glass bowl* and break up sponge cake to line the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle over a little of your chosen liqueur.
2. Put marscapone in a bowl and mix together with the raspberries and sugar. Add sugar a little at a time until you reach desired sweetness. You want a little of the tartness of the fruits to come through. I used a small whisk for this - don't use an electric one, you still want lumps of raspberry in the filling.
3. Pile the pink mixture atop the sponge and smooth out. Top with a little creme fraiche or whipped cream and decorate with raspberries and maybe some flaked almonds if you have them and are feeling a little retro!
4. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours so that the flavours get a chance to mingle.
*glass bowls are key. A trifle should be pretty with its lovely layers - we want to see them!
Incidently, for those who are interested, the annual