Yotam Ottolenghi’s summer berry dessert recipes (2024)

One of the first desserts I made as a young chef in Britain was summer pudding, and the quantity of berries that went into it shocked me. Before that, I simply hadn’t realised how generous you can be with berries and how much you get in return, both in complexity of colour and intensity of flavour.

The recipe I followed also had a bottle of red wine in it, and this taught me that you can magnify the tartness of berries manifold when you match them with other sources of acidity.

Today’s puddings reflect my first lessons cooking with fresh berries, with an abundance and a mouth-puckering sharpness that are perfect for the height of summer.

Berry platter with sheep’s labneh and orange oil (pictured above)

This display of the season’s best can double up as a light dessert or as a brunch centrepiece. You can make your own labneh, but it requires draining the yoghurt for a good 24 hours – you can also easily make everything on the day using shop-bought labneh or some Greek yoghurt mixed with a little double cream.

The berries you use are totally up to you, depending on what’s good and not too expensive. You can use as many or as few types as you like, or add some frozen berries – especially for those that get blitzed in the recipe.

You’ll make more oil than you need; store it in a glass jar to drizzle over salads or lightly cooked vegetables.

Prep 20 min
Drain 24 hrs (optional)
Cook 40 min
Serves 6

900g sheep’s yoghurt, or cow’s yoghurt
¾ tsp salt
100ml good-quality olive oil
10g lemon thyme sprigs, plus a few extra picked thyme leaves to serve
1 orange; pared, to get 6 finely shaved strips of zest
200g blackberries
250g raspberries
300g strawberries, hulled and halved lengthways (or quartered if they’re larger)
50g caster sugar
1 lime; zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, and juiced, to get 1 tbsp
200g blueberries
150g cherries, pitted

Mix the yoghurt and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Line a colander with a piece of cheesecloth large enough to hang over the sides and put the colander over another bowl. Transfer the yoghurt to the cheesecloth and fold over the sides to encase the yoghurt. Put a heavy weight over the cloth, and transfer to the refrigerator to drain for at least 24 hours (and up to 48).

Meanwhile, put a small pan for which you have a lid on a medium heat and add the oil. Heat gently for about seven minutes, or until tiny air bubbles form. Remove from the heat, add the thyme and orange strips, cover with a lid and leave to infuse for at least half an hour, and ideally overnight.

The next day, add 50g of the blackberries, 100g of the raspberries and 100g of the strawberries, the sugar and lime juice to the small bowl of a food processor and blitz until completely smooth. Add all the remaining berries and the cherries to a large bowl, add the blitzed fruit and gently combine. You can use this straight away, or leave in the fridge for a few hours, bringing back to room temperature before serving.

Spread the labneh on a large platter. Spoon over the berries, then sprinkle with lime zest. Drizzle with two tablespoons of the infused oil, including a couple of the orange strips, and extra thyme leaves.

Berry jelly with kombucha and cucumber

This grown-up jelly satisfies a sweet-tooth while still remaining light and fresh-tasting, thanks to the addition of cucumber and the sour edge of kombucha.

The jelly will keep for up to three days in the fridge, so make it and ahead of time if you like. The cream and lime sugar, however, need preparing on the day.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s summer berry dessert recipes (1)

Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr
Setting 3–6 hr
Serves 8

For the jelly
140g caster sugar
325g blueberries
660ml plain kombucha
150g cucumber, roughly chopped
10g basil leaves, roughly torn
15g mint leaves, roughly torn
400g strawberries, hulled and quartered
300g raspberries
2 tbsp lime juice
10 fine-leaf, quick-dissolving gelatine leaves (18g)

For the herb and lime sugar
2 tbsp basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp mint leaves, roughly chopped
2 tsp lime zest
35g caster sugar

For the cream
75g sour cream
200ml double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar

First, make the jelly. Put the sugar in a small saucepan with 150g of the blueberries and 50ml of the kombucha and put on a medium-high heat. Cook until the blueberries release their juices and the sugar dissolves – two to three minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl with the cucumber, herbs, and half the strawberries and raspberries. Mash with a potato masher until everything is roughly broken up. Add the lime juice and remaining kombucha and leave to macerate for 30 minutes, or up to four hours.

Strain the berry liquid through a sieve over a large bowl, pressing to extract as much as possible (serve the macerated berries and herbs with yoghurt for breakfast). Measure out 150ml of the berry liquid into a small saucepan.

Add the gelatin leaves to a small bowl with plenty of cold water and leave to soak for five minutes. Meanwhile, warm through the saucepan of berry liquid on a medium heat for a minute or two. Now remove the gelatin from the water, squeeze out as much liquid as possible, and add to the warmed berry liquid, whisking well until completely dissolved. Stir this into the bowl of remaining berry liquid and set aside.

Scatter 100g of the strawberries and 90g each of the blueberries and raspberries into the bottom of a deep, large, glass bowl (about 23cm in diameter), or divide evenly between eight glasses, and set aside. Pour the berry and gelatin liquid over the top and refrigerate until set (around six hours for a large bowl or three hours for individual glasses).

Pound together all the ingredients for the herb and lime sugar in a mortar until bright green and completely broken down. Ideally, you want this to dry a little, but it’s also fine to use straight away. To dry, spread out on to a plate and leave to dry for an hour or two.

To serve, whip together the sour cream, double cream and icing sugar to soft peaks. Spoon on to the jelly, swirling with the back of the spoon. Arrange the remaining berries decoratively on top. Sprinkle generously with the herb and lime sugar, serving any leftover sugar alongside.

Lemon and raspberry bars

Dotting these bars with halved raspberries before baking gives them a dramatic appearance, but the berries do tend to weep into the curd the longer they sit, so I suggest doing this only if you are serving them on the day (and remember, they need four hours to chill). If you make the bars a day ahead, leave the raspberries out until the end and top the lemon bars just before serving.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s summer berry dessert recipes (2)

Prep 25 min
Cook 1 hr 15 min
Chill 4 hr
Makes 15 bars

For the shortbread crust
130g plain flour
60g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
¼ tsp flaked sea salt
2 tsp lemon zest
1½ tbsp lemon thyme leaves, roughly chopped, plus extra sprigs to garnish
120g unsalted butter, fridge-cold, cut into 1cm cubes
40g flaked almonds, toasted

For the lemon curd filling
3 large eggs
6 egg yolks
250g caster sugar
½ tsp flaked sea salt
6-7 lemons, finely grated to get 2 tbsp zest, then juiced to get 170ml
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1cm cubes
70g raspberries, halved lengthways

Heat the oven to 165C/145C fan/330F/ gas 3. Line a 20cm square baking tin that has a removable base with a piece of baking paper large enough to cover the base and sides.

For the crust, add the flour, icing sugar, salt, lemon zest, thyme and butter to a food processor and pulse a few times to a crumbly meal – about 20 seconds. Add the almonds and blitz for a few seconds more, until roughly broken. Transfer to the baking tin and use your hands to press the crust into an even layer to cover the base. Bake for 40 minutes, or until light golden, then set aside until needed.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, salt, and lemon zest and juice, in a medium saucepan until smooth. Put over a medium-low heat and stir continuously, until the mixture thickens to resemble a pourable pudding – 12-15 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the butter and stir until melted and combined. Pour over the shortbread crust and gently shake the tin to even out. Top with the raspberries, spreading them out, cut side down, pressing them in gently without completely submerging them.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until set but still jiggly in the centre. Leave to cool at room temperature for an hour before refrigerating for at least four hours to set completely.

Gently remove the lemon bar from the tin by holding the baking paper on both sides, and lift on to a cutting board. Trim the ends to give you a perfect square, then slice into 15 pieces, wiping the knife clean as you go.

Use a small sieve to dust the top with icing sugar, then sprinkle with the extra thyme. Serve at once: these are best eaten cold, not long after they’ve been dusted with sugar.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s summer berry dessert recipes (2024)


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