“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” Miles Kington, British journalist.

Fabulous, flavoursome, healthy, versatile — summer stone fruits and berries take centre stage just in time for festive feasting. 

Traditionally enjoyed piled on pavs or cheesecakes or served as combos in an attractive glass bowl, summer fruits can also enhance ice creams, smoothies and sauces. Enjoy: puréed strawberries drizzled over raspberries; or blueberries, bananas and yoghurt blended for a quick instant breakfast; or frozen blackberries and cream whizzed in a food processor to make instant ice cream.

Summer pudding is a favourite festive dessert. It originated at English health spas and resorts in the 1800s where it was referred to as ‘hydropathic pudding.’ It was considered healthier than desserts with butter-laden pastry. In the early 1900s, it acquired the name of ‘summer pudding’.

This delight is an uncooked, sweet bread pudding most often prepared from mixed fresh berries, sugar and white bread slices. Despite the presence of bread, the pudding is extremely light, incredibly tasty and looks stunning. Even people who don’t like sweets or desserts often enjoy it. Some light gluten-free breads work well in this combo.


A twist on the traditional summer pudding with berries. Brioche bread (from France) is available from most supermarkets. Alternatively, use day-old white sandwich bread. These puddings are best prepared three days in advance.

850g can Black Doris Plums
500g loaf sliced brioche bread, crusts removed 
assorted berries to garnish
whipped cream or plain yoghurt for serving

Drain the plums in a sieve reserving the juice in a bowl. Halve the plums. Remove and discard the stones.

Line six, 1/3-cup ramekins with plastic wrap allowing it to overhang the rims. This makes the puds easier to remove.

Thinly roll out each brioche slice. Trim the bread to fit the bases and sides of the ramekins. Cut the remainder of the bread into rounds using the top of a ramekin as a template.

Spoon about 3 plums into each bread-lined ramekin. Press down lightly. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of juice. Top with more bread. Holding each ramekin over the bowl that contains the juice, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of juice over the top. 

Cover the tops with the overhanging film and place a weight on top. Refrigerate for 12 hours. Unmould onto serving plates and brush with the remaining juice. 

Great garnished with berries such as sliced strawberries, blueberries and freeze-dried raspberries and served with whipped cream or yoghurt. Serves 6.


An easy trifle with store-bought ingredients. Can be frozen without the garnish.

100g dark chocolate, chopped
2 cups (500g) prepared custard
300g chocolate log
3 tablespoons kirsch or brandy
450g can stoneless cherries
300ml cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
grated chocolate and fresh or canned cherries to garnish

Place the chocolate in a large microwave bowl. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the chocolate is just melted. Stir well. Add the custard mixing well. Return the bowl to the microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Cool.

Slice the chocolate log into 1.5cm rounds. Line the sides and base of a 19cm diameter x 8cm deep glass bowl. Drizzle the slices with the kirsch. 

Drain the cherries well, reserving the juice. Sprinkle a little over the log slices. Pile the cherries in the bowl then top with the chocolate custard. Smooth the top. Cover and chill overnight.

Whip the cream and icing sugar together until thick. Spread over the custard. Garnish with the grated chocolate and cherries. Serves 8.


Italian-style panettone is available from the specialty bread section of your supermarket or from delis.  

1 loaf panettone bread
1/4 cup orange-flavoured liqueur
70g hazelnuts
500g ricotta
250g mascarpone
1/2 cup icing sugar
100g each: chopped dark chocolate, mixed dried fruit
finely grated rind 1 large orange
blueberries and whipped cream to serve

Line an 8-cup metal pudding basin with plastic wrap, allowing enough to wrap over the top of the pudding.

Using a sharp knife, cut the panettone lengthways into 6 x 1.5cm thick slices. Remove the crusts. Arrange 4 of the slices — overlapping slightly — around the sides and base of the pudding basin. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the liqueur.

Lightly toast the hazelnuts in a heavy frying pan on medium heat. Place in a large sieve and shake until the skins are moved. Coarsely chop.

Beat the ricotta, mascarpone and icing sugar together, until smooth. Add the hazelnuts, chocolate, dried fruit and orange rind. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the bread-lined basin, pressing in firmly.

Brush both sides of the remaining panettone with the remaining liqueur and place firmly on top of the pudding. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to chill. The pudding can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Serve with berries and whipped cream. Serves 8-10.


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