Celia Brooks' Independence Day dessert
Independence Day desserts are a no-holds-barred opportunity to fly the good ol’ red, white and blue whenever possible. Here, stewed red rhubarb and fresh blueberries mingle in thick syrup underneath a white sugar-crusted cake batter, garnished with ice cream or squirty whipped cream.
Cobblers (think crumble, but with a spongy, fruit-soaked cake topping rather than a crumbly one) are most often associated with a wintry indulgence, served straight out of the oven. This one, inspired my Texan mother’s cousin, Randy’s, recipe, uses summer fruits and is in fact better served chilled, which is much better suited for a 4th July party or picnic.
Rhubarb is just about finished in July in the UK, but fresh English rhubarb is still available at Borough’s greengrocers. Late season rhubarb is less blushing pink than the sweet early season stalks, so I’ve cooked it here in rosy pomegranate juice for a flavour and colour boost.
500g fresh rhubarb, sliced into 1cm pieces
325g caster sugar, plus more for topping
250ml pomegranate juice
2 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
250g self-raising flour
100ml melted butter
250g fresh blueberries
Nutmeg, freshly grated
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, to serve
Place the rhubarb, 125g of the sugar, pomegranate juice and cornflour in a medium saucepan and stir well. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 mins, until thickened and the rhubarb has softened slightly.
Stir in the butter and lemon juice, set aside for about 15 mins while you prepare the rest.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Generously butter a 25cm round glass flan dish or casserole dish and place on a large baking sheet lined with foil or baking paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, 200g of sugar, and 1 tsp salt. Add the milk and melted butter and stir well to make a smooth, thick batter.
Pour the rhubarb mixture into the dish. Sprinkle the blueberries in the centre. Pour the batter over the blueberries, leaving a border of rhubarb around the edges.
Grate a generous amount of nutmeg over the batter, then sprinkle over 3 tbsp sugar. Place the tray in the oven. Cook for 30-40 mins, until the batter is firm to the touch.
Turn off the oven, open the door, and leave it there to rest for 20-30 mins. Allow to cool, then chill if desired. Spoon onto plates and serve with ice cream or whipped cream. Delicious chilled.
Recipe: Celia Brooks