“Soft, pale, creamy, untroubled, the English fruit fool is the most frail and insubstantial of English summer dishes.” (Elizabeth David)
There’s something evocative and reassuring about rhubarb fool for me. It reminds me of long summer days in my grandparents’ garden; rose petals lying on the grass, Bess, the black lab, panting in the shade and the sound of wood pigeons in the trees. When my grandma wasn’t gardening, she would be making something delicious (and usually sugar-filled) in the kitchen and in the summer months, home-grown fruit was a staple.
Summer puddings triumph over winter ones for me – they’re more of a refreshing treat than an over-indulgence – eton mess, lemon tart, panacotta, we even had profiteroles at our wedding instead of a cake.
This recipe serves four and can easily be adjusted to your taste – I don’t like it too sweet. The ginger biscuits just work with the sharpness of the rhubarb but shortbread would be good too – something with a bit of a crunch to counter-balance the creaminess of the fool.
You could also try blackberry, strawberry or gooseberry fool if you want to vary it a bit – the blackberry fool looks really pretty served in a glass and works best with shortbread biscuits.
5 tbsp caster sugar
300ml double cream
100ml Greek yoghurt
Mint for garnish
1. Wash and trim the rhubarb and put it in a pan with 4 tbsp of the sugar. Heat gently with a lid on until it’s tender. Take the lid off and turn up the heat slightly, allowing some of the juice to evaporate. Taste for sweetness and then drain the rhubarb, putting the juice to one side. Allow to cool.
2. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and then stir in the yoghurt. Gently fold in the rhubarb, and chill for at least an hour.
3. Serve in glasses with the reserved juice poured over the top and a few mint leaves to garnish. It’s nice to put a layer of the stewed rhubarb at the bottom of the glass and maybe a little on the top too.
340g plain flour
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 level tsps ground ginger
160g light brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 large egg (beaten)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F. Line the baking trays with grease proof paper.
2. Put all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and then add the syrup and the egg. Bring it together until it resembles a smooth dough. Cover with a light dusting of flour and cover with cling film. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
3. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough to about 8mm thick. Use a 2″ cutter to cut out the biscuits (I did a few heart shaped ones too) and place them on the baking trays. Leave enough room around them as they will get slightly bigger as they cook.
4. Place in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove with a palette knife and leave to cool on a cooling rack.
(Rhubarb Fool recipe adapted from Felicity Cloake’s in The Guardian. Biscuit recipe adapted from Paul Hollywood)