This month’s recipes include some traditional British desserts. Americans can’t be blamed for being sometimes wary of British desserts. Whoever can forget his or her first encounter with a pudding more meat than sweet while visiting Britain?
Names can be misleading. But we promise that your friends and families will love these strangely-called confections. Learn how to create the Boodle’s Orange Fool, a Blackcurrant Flummery and a trifle that would have pleased the characters of a Jane Austen novel.
Boodles Orange Fool
Like us, you may be wondering, “What exactly is a fruit fool?” A fool is an English word for a dessert and traditionally includes cooked fruit poured over a custard. The preparation of the “fruit fool” is similar to what Americans would call a compote.
The origins of the word fool here are disputed. Some have suggested that it comes from the French word, fouler, meaning to crush. However, the Oxford English Dictionary questions this etymology.
A specialty at Boodles, a London club in St. James’s Street, which was founded in 1762. The idea of combining sponge with fruit fool dates back to the 18th-century version with ratafias. In this pudding, the lemon and the orange fool, the cream and juice separate so that the sweet, sharp juice soaks the sponge at the bottom.
- Cut the sponge cakes into ½ inch stripos and line the base of a glass serving dish, or individual glass dishes.
- Mix the zest and juice of the fruit with the sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Whip half the cream until thick, but not stiff, and beat the juice into the cream slowly. Taste for sweetness.
- Spoon over the sponge cakes and chill thoroughly for 2-3 hours, until the juice has soaked into the sponge and the cream has set.
- Whip the remaining cream until stiff, and pipe or spoon on top of the pudding to decorate. Garnish with crystallized orange slices and angelica.
- 4 trifle sponge cakes
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
- 2 -3 oz caster sugar
- 1 pint double cream
- Crystallized orange slices
- Crystallized angelica
The name Flummery originally came from the Welsh Illymru, a dish of oats cooked until they were almost solid, eaten with honey or a sweet sauce. Later it became a jelly or blancmange, sometimes made in elaborate moulds for table centers, such as a Flummery in the shape of a fish in a pond of jelly.
This recipe is from America where a Flummery often refers to something more like a compote, or thickened berry dessert. Substitute gooseberries for an excellent alternative.
- Make a thick sieved purée of blackcurrants, stewed with a little water. Allow to cool.
- Whip the cream with the caster sugar.
- Whisk the egg white separately and fold into the cream.
- Gently stir the cream mixture into the purée so as to give a marbled effect and serve in individual glasses garnished with a rosette of whipped cream. Chill before serving.
- 1 lb blackcurrants
- ½ pint double cream
- 8 oz caster sugar
- 1 egg white
- Whipped cream for decoration
An 18th– Century Trifle
Sara Paston-Williams devised this trifle using a recipe from an ancient cookbook. Pre-18th-century trifles were more like a cooked cream or a fool, but this recipe has biscuits, wine, custard and whipped cream.
- Prepare the topping several hours in advance. Put the lemon zest and juice, sherry or wine, orange-flower or rose-water and caster sugar into a bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave for a few hours to let the oils from the zest impregnate the liquor.
- Meanwhile, make the custard. Heat the cream in a small non-stick pan.
- Beat the egg yoks with the corn flour and sugar in a small basin until smooth, then pour on the hot cream, stirring all the time.
- Return the custard to the pan and stir it with a wooden spoon over a low heat until thick.
- Place the pan on a cold surface or in a bowl of cold water to remove any heat that might curdle the custard.
- Leave to cool while you prepare the base.
- Break the biscuits in half and place in the bottom of a shallow glass or china dish. Sprinkle over the sherry or wine, then pour over the custard. Cool completely.
- To make the topping, strain the prepared liquor into a clean bowl and stir in the cream, gradually beating it with a whisk until it sands in soft peaks (be careful not to overbeat or the syllabub will separate.)
- Decorate with small blobs of jelly and zest.
Ingredients: (serves 6-8)
For the base:
- 18 boudoir biscuits or sponge fingers
- 3-4 tablespoons medium dry sherry or white wine
For the custard:
- ½ pint double cream
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 level teaspoon cornflour
- 1 oz caster sugar
For the topping
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tablespoons medium-dry sherry or white wine
- 1 teaspoon orange flower or rose water
- 2 oz caster sugar
- ½ point double cream
- Redcurrant or blackcurrant jelly to decorate
- Finely shredded orange, lemon or citron zest to decorate
Republished with permission from The National Trust Complete Traditional Cookbook.