Friday, 9 August 2013

Gooseberries - the forgotten fruit?

 We’ve seen and heard very little about gooseberries in recent years so it may be that they aren’t so popular any more. And yet this tart berry is so easy to use in a range of desserts and puddings. I’ve just been given some gooseberries from a neighbour’s garden, so I’ve wasted no time in making a Gooseberry Pie as it’s one of our favourites. You don’t need much pastry for this dish as just a pastry lid will suffice.
Gooseberry Pie

 8oz/225g gooseberries
60z/175g caster sugar
60z/175g shortcrust pastry (plain four, butter, egg, water or milk to mix)

Prepare the gooseberries by topping and tailing them. Wash them before stewing them in a saucepan with sugar and a little water for around 5 minutes on a low heat. Allow to cool then pour onto a pie dish. Make the shortcrust pastry: For an 8 inch (20-21cm ) pie dish you will need 6oz/175g of flour and 30z (75g) of butter. Rub the butter or margarine into the flour. When the mixture is like breadcrumbs, make a well and add the egg. Knead and add the water to make a dough. Let it stand for ½ hour in a cool place before rolling out. Roll out the pastry to the size of the pie dish and cover the gooseberries. Trim the edges then brish the top with milk. Sprinkle a teaspoonful of caster sugar over the top so it will crisp in the oven. Bake at 200C, Mark 6 for about 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or cold.
Here is another old Gooseberry dessert recipe which Peter and Jan gave me a while ago when I was doing a series of baking talks at Hodsock Priory  during the Snowdrop season in February. Jan has been making this recipe for over 40 years. Try it out and tell me what you think.

Gooseberry Ambrosia
1lb gooseberries + 4 tbsp water
2oz granulated sugar (or more to taste)
1 level dessertsp cornflour (or a bit more to thicken them a little)
8oz plain Madeira cake (Peter says Sand Cake in Grandma’s book is perfect for this)
1oz glace cherries (or a few more if you like them)
2oz butter
2 level tbsps clear runny honey

Top and tail the gooseberries. Simmer with the little water and sugar for about 5 minutes till cooked, but not mushy; remove from heat. Blend together cornflour with a dessertsp water and add to the fruit, bring to boil stirring gently. Cook for 2 minutes to thicken a bit. Pour into 1½ pint shallow casserole. Cut cake into 1” cubes. Halve the cherries. Place butter in saucepan, measure honey carefully and add to the melting butter. When butter has melted, remove from heat, gently stir in cake pieces and cherries until they are coated with the butter and honey. Pile the mixture on top of the gooseberries. Prepare a moderate grill.  Put the ambrosia under the grill to lightly brown the topping. Serve hot or cold, with custard or cream.

Let me know if you try these recipes or have any gooseberry recipes to bring this fruit back into favour? 

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