It’s round this time of year that my mother is in the midst of a fruit-induced madness. It starts with raspberries, then strawberries, then redcurrants…then just as it’s beginning to wane, it’s the blackcurrants, blackberries, then apples…
She gets up at odd hours in the morning to pick fruit, she can’t go on a summer holiday “because the fruit will rot on the plants”, she embarks upon furious jam-making, jelly making and ferreting fruit away in odd places. Firstly it’s in the chest freezer, then it’s the rearranging of the chest freezer to cram in an extra kilogram of redcurrants…then it’s my grandad’s chest freezer. Last year, she even brought several bagfuls of fruit to London to stash in my freezer.
I’ve got to admit that part of this fruit-induced madness is that it really is a one-woman-act of planting, cultivating, and picking…but the thing is (and listen up mum, if you happen to read this) – you really shouldn’t have ever used ‘fruit picking’ as a punishment when we were younger. I really do have quite a simple mind (a bit like Pavlov’s dog) and now I can’t help but associate the action of plucking away at a prickly bush while clutching an empty punnet as the rural equivalent of a smacked bottom, or being sent to bed without supper.
Anyway, the huge perk of this manic fruit harvesting is all the fruit-based puddings that follow. Mum starts off with all the obvious puddings, but as menu fatigue sets in, they get more adventurous. While there are lots of strawberry and raspberry-based recipes to rattle through, it’s more awkward with redcurrants (and much to Mum’s annoyance we don’t get through 12 kilograms worth of redcurrant jelly each year).
One year, Mum came up with this pudding (she says that she didn’t, but she’s a very modest lady, and I’ve never come across a recipe quite like it anywhere else). It was known to us as ‘pink stuff’, though Mum tried to glam it up by calling it redcurrant soufflé-which is actually quite misleading as it doesn’t resemble a soufflé at all*.
Give it a go. I’m yet to come across anyone who doesn’t like it.
(around) 1kg of redcurrants
½ pint double cream
150g caster sugar
Gelatine (preferably leaves)
3 eggs (separated)
A couple of large handfuls of amaretto biscuits
A good slosh of Crème de cassis
Cook the redcurrants on a very slow heat so they begin to break down and release all the juices. (as you can see, I naughtily added a bit of extra sugar at this point).
If you own a moulie, then use it to juice the redcurrants. If you don’t, then use a wooden spoon to press the currants through a sieve. Ideally you should end up with about 1 pint of redcurrant juice.
Next, whip the cream, and then set it to one side. Then separate the eggs and (in the same bowl that you whipped the cream in, to save on washing up) mix together the egg yolks and the sugar until they become smooth and creamy.
Follow the instructions on the packet of gelatine – I used one and a half packets because I was dealing with 1.5 pints of liquid – I put stirred it into warm orange juice until it had dissolved – but, as I said, follow the instructions on the packet because different types of gelatine can act differently.
Now stir the egg yolk and sugar mixture into the cream. Then add the redcurrent juice and stir in the gelatine. Finally, whisk the egg whites until solid, and gently fold them in.
If you want to have a dramatic lip of soufflé rising above the bowl (as I intended to …but didn’t have enough redcurrant mixture) then use string to tie greaseproof paper around the edge of the dish.
Finally, place a glass tumbler or a pint glass in the middle of the bowl.
Spoon the redcurrant mixture into the bowl, avoiding the glass, and then put the redcurrant soufflé in the fridge overnight.
On the morning that you want to serve the redcurrant soufflé, smash up the amaretto biscuits, put them in a container, and pour a big slosh of crème de cassis over them, so you create a sort of boozy biscuit mixture.
When it comes to serving the soufflé, pour boiling water into the glass, so that it loosens it, and you can easily lift it out of the redcurrant mixture.
Pour the boozy biscuits into the hole in the middle of the pudding, and if you’re feeling extra sweet (I wasn’t!), then you could spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the pudding. Enjoy – and let me know how you get on.
*DISCLAIMER. Having read this, Mum has told me to remove the sentence which suggests that it “is actually quite misleading [to call this a soufflé] as it doesn’t resemble a soufflé at all” because this makes me look like a moron.
Apparently everyone knows about ‘cold soufflés’ which are similar to an everyday soufflé, but made from egg whites and gelatine. I told her that nobody my age knows about this - it sounds like a really retro pudding. Maybe I am being a mornon - the jury’s out on this one…!