Cook school confidential: cooking with raspberries

Cook school confidential: cooking with raspberries

by Great British Chefs 23 June 2016

We got together with chef Adam Gray to find out how to get the most out of one of Britain's best seasonal fruits at his beautiful cookery school upstairs at Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

The red berries of British summertime are something every cook looks forward to working with. Raspberries are a particularly sought after ingredient thanks to their intense tart, sweet flavour, whether eaten straight from the punnet or used in all sorts of delicious desserts. Adam Gray – head chef at the beautiful Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings in Clerkenwell – includes them on his menu the second they’re in season. We teamed up with him to host a masterclass at the restaurant’s cookery school so we could find out how best to use the soft fruit at home.

‘The first dish I’ll be demonstrating is a raspberry salad with cracked black pepper – something you wouldn’t normally think of – to give the fruit a bit of a kick,’ says Adam. ‘With that I’m adding fresh mint and a bit of raspberry coulis made with sugar syrup. It’s served inside a soft meringue with lemon curd inside, which works well as raspberries and lemons are both quite tart and sweet, with custard and a raspberry sorbet on the side.

‘The other dish is a classic raspberry Bakewell tart topped with fresh raspberries glazed with an apricot jam,’ he continues. ‘It’s a very classic dish but by using fresh fruit rather than jam it showcases how nice raspberries can taste.’

Traditional British desserts seem to suit raspberries best, as the fruit’s natural flavour is allowed to shine through. The final dish Adam prepared on the day was a raspberry jelly. ‘I just put the fruit in a bowl, cover it in cling film then place it on top of a pan of boiling water for a few hours,’ he explains. ‘All the juices come out of the raspberries, which I then strain through muslin and set with gelatine.

'I serve it with whipped vanilla cream and fresh raspberries which I’ve soaked overnight in Champagne. All three are quite classic desserts with a little twist, but I’ve made sure to use three different cooking methods to show how versatile the fruit can be.’

The raspberries Adam used were incredible in terms of size, taste and texture
Everyone attending the masterclass got stuck in and created their own individual desserts

In season

Traditionally, people tend to associate raspberries with the height of summer – towards the end of July and beginning of August. But times have changed. Producers, growers and farmers are pushing the boundaries and are able to harvest earlier than in previous years. ‘Asparagus season now generally starts a few weeks earlier these days,’ says Adam, ‘and the same goes for raspberries. It’s great because chefs are able to get access to ingredients sooner and extend their menus by a couple of weeks either side of the season. I expect English raspberries to be available until the end of August or beginning of September, but then sometimes the Scottish ones come later and the season is even longer.’

The raspberries Adam used during the masterclass were provided by BerryWorld and were juicy, bright red and almost the size of a strawberry – which made all the difference to the final flavour of the dishes. Checking the punnet before you buy is key to getting the same fantastic quality at home. ‘There are almost always one or two raspberries which are going soft which will start to affect the others around them,’ he explains, ‘so have a look in the shop and keep an eye out for those. When you get them home, take the fruit out of the punnet and go through them one by one, removing any that are soft. You’re best using raspberries within two or three days as they’re a soft fruit, and I tend to transfer them to a tray in the fridge with a damp cloth over the top to keep them at their best.’

Fancy recreating some restaurant-quality raspberry dishes at home? Check out our collection of incredible recipes here.