This gooseberry baked Alaska will brighten any summer dining table and the fennel pollen really enhances the flavours.
These days, we don’t tend to cook gooseberries as often as our grandmothers did, because, unless you grow them yourself, they’re surprisingly difficult to get hold of. Someone once told me to treat them like rhubarb when pairing with other flavours, which was good advice. This gooseberry baked Alaska will brighten any summer dining table and the fennel pollen really enhances the flavours.
Gooseberry baked Alaska with fennel pollen and mascarpone (serves 4)
100g butter, unsalted
100g caster sugar
2 free range eggs
50g almond flour
50g self-raising flour
½tspn vanilla-bean paste
500ml hard vanilla ice cream
500g gooseberries (plus a few more to serve)
3 egg whites
1/2tspn cream of tartar
2tspn fennel pollen (optional)
50g toasted almonds slivers
Several edible flowers for decoration
Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C/350 ̊F/gas mark 4, then cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, before gradually adding the beaten eggs and vanilla paste, then both the almond and self-raising flour. Gently fold the ingredients, then pour the mixture into a parchment-lined cake tin of about 10in diameter and bake until a skewer comes out clean, or about 15–18 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn out onto a wire rack and, once cool, cut out four circles with a cookie cutter and store them in an airtight container until ready to use.
Simmer the gooseberries and the sugar in a saucepan until the fruit has broken down, then allow to cool, before stirring it through the ice cream that has been allowed to soften. Next, add the ice cream to four, clingfilm-lined mini-pudding moulds and put them in the freezer until ready to use.
Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until frothy, add the sugar and cream of tartar and continue to whisk until stiff peaks appear.
Arrange the four cake discs on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, then turn out the ice cream from the mini moulds on top of the discs and remove the clingfilm. Working quickly, spread the ice cream with the meringue, using either a palette knife or a piping bag, then place in a hot oven for a couple of minutes to brown the edges slightly.
Scatter the roasted almond slivers on plates and place the baked Alaska in the middle of each dish, surrounded by a few gooseberries and a quenelle of mascarpone, then dot with edible flowers, before sprinkling fennel pollen on the mascarpone and serving immediately.
More ways with gooseberries
Gooseberry, lemon and ginger cheesecake
Crush 150g ginger biscuits and pour 50g melted butter over them, then put the mixture in the base of a spring-form cake tin. Mix well 200g cream cheese, 400ml condensed milk and 100ml double cream with the juice of two lemons. Add 300g of fresh, washed, gooseberries and fold them through the cream cheese mixture before adding it to the spring-form tin. Refrigerate until set, then serve.
Smoked mackerel with quick gooseberry relish (left)
Simmer 500g gooseberries in a saucepan, along with a chopped red onion, a squeeze of lemon juice and lemon zest, star anise (or some fennel pollen if you have it), seasoning, 30g brown sugar and 50ml apple-cider vinegar, until the fruit has broken up and the onion has softened, then serve with smoked mackerel.
Whip double cream until fluffy and stir elderflower cordial and a little (shop bought for ease) creamy vanilla custard through it. Then fold fresh, washed gooseberries through the cream and custard and spoon into glasses, before serving with crushed Amaretti biscuits on top for texture.