Mary Berry has a special way with berries
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Putting a Mary Berry cookbook through a ‘tried and tested’ ordeal may seem like sacrilege to some. After all, the former Great British Bake Off judge is a culinary legend, the trusted guide of many a home cook, through many a decade.
But not even Berry rests on her laurels. At 85, she’s still writing cookbooks and for this one, Simple Comforts, also stars in an accompanying BBC series.
Lisa Salmon put the wild bramble mousse to the test:
When I looked at the recipe for Berry’s wild berry mousse, I knew it was going to be a little fiddly, mainly because of separating and whisking egg whites, and folding them into the blackberry mixture. But I gave it a go – and, as I cracked open my sixth egg (the recipe only needs two), I wished I hadn’t.
The recipe starts off easy enough, boiling what seemed like a bushful of blackberries with sugar and lemon juice, then adding gelatine leaves and leaving it to cool and thicken slightly. I was nervous about the gelatine, as I’ve not used it for a long time and have memories of problems with gelatinous lumps in the past. But there was no problem with it, and thankfully, my berry mixture remained smooth.
But then came separating the eggs and whisking them. Oh dear… I separated the first two without getting any egg yolk in them, and whisked them, but as the recipe says to be careful not to over whisk, I was paranoid about over whisking. When the egg whites formed peaks I thought I’d whisked them enough, but then decided the peaks weren’t stiff enough, so I whisked them a bit more, and they went less stiff, so I decided I’d over whisked and needed to start again.
I cracked open another two eggs, got yolk in them this time and tried to take it out, but was obviously unsuccessful as I whipped it for ages and it just wouldn’t thicken.
So I separated eggs number five and six and whipped them up till they looked much like the first lot – I wasn’t sure if the peaks were stiff enough again, but to be honest I didn’t really care anymore. Good job I’d bought a lot of eggs!
After whipping up the cream I folded it and the egg whites into the cooled berry mixture, having sieved it to get the seeds out – Berry says to discard the seeds but after tasting them, I actually ate the lot as they were nice and sweet (and I’m greedy).
I poured the finished mousse into a posh crystal bowl and popped it in the fridge overnight, with a few reserved berries and icing sugar on top to make it look pretty, then we ate it after Sunday dinner the next day. The verdict? “Quite nice” – not even the kids raved about it. After all that egg whites trouble I was hoping for something absolutely fantastic. It was good, but not spectacular.
Simple Comforts by Mary Berry is published by BBC Books, priced £26. Photography Laura Edwards. Available now.