ONE of my favourite seasonal berries is the luscious, crimson jewel of the summer crown: the cherry.

Sadly, British cherries can be a little pricey, mainly because their season is so short (June-July is peak) and because demand often outstrips supply – we Brits love our cherries.

First introduced to the UK by Henry VIII, we now cultivate 20 varieties of cherry in this country, with the main growing areas in Kent, Hertfordshire and Scotland.

Cherries are best eaten freshly picked but can be used in a variety of dishes, both sweet and savoury alike. Cherry pie, Bakewell tart and Black Forest Gateau are classic favourites and cherries also combine well with dark chocolate, almonds and coconut.

When it comes to savoury dishes, cherries pair beautifully with duck and lamb - the sweet yet tartness of the fruit cuts through the richness of the meat and creates a great contrast of flavours. And of course, cherries are great with alcohol – a cold cherry beer on a hot day is a real treat.

Cherries are not only super tasty but good for us too. A great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals, including potassium, calcium, vitamin A and folic acid, cherries are also well known for their antioxidant properties.

Today’s recipe is a lovely summer dessert that makes the most of a variety of seasonal fruit. Ready-made pastry is perfectly fine to use but feel free to make your own if preferred.


(serves 4)

1 pack (approx. 350g) ready-rolled puff pastry

300g mixed berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries etc)

1 ripe nectarine or peach, sliced

2 tbsp good quality blackberry jam

50ml crème de cassis (optional)

100g cherries

500ml double cream or coconut cream

1 vanilla pod

2 tbsp icing sugar plus extra for dusting

Pre-heat the oven to 200c/390F/Gas 6

Un-roll the pastry onto a lined baking sheet and cut out 4 equal sized oval disc shapes. Gently score around the pastry, leaving about 2cm around the edge to create a border. Prick the surface inside the border lightly with a fork and bake for 15-20 minutes in the pre-heated oven until golden and puffed up. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile heat the berries and the nectarine slices in a pan with the jam and crème de cassis (if using), until the fruit has softened and the jam has melted. Gently stir everything together to combine the flavours, taking care not to squash the berries.

To make the vanilla cream, score the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the seeds into a bowl. Add the icing sugar and double cream and beat until thick (if using coconut cream you’ll need a little less icing sugar as its naturally sweeter than its dairy alternative).

Using the pre-scored edge as a guide, gently cut away the top layer of pastry from the middle of each rectangle – they idea is to create a little pocket for your fruit and cream.

To assemble the dish, divide the vanilla cream between each puff pastry pocket and spoon the berry mixture on top. Finish with a few cherries, a dusting of icing sugar and serve.