Mmmmm … berries. I love to pick them myself, which I often can at my CSA farm. My mind buzz turns off, replaced by bee buzz; the bees are way too busy to bother me. In the quiet berry patch, the focused search and careful reach for ripe berries is contemplative and soothing. Eat one and pick three.
Every precious pint is a dilemma: eat them “as is,” hoard them in the freezer for the winter or bake something delicious right now. They are almost too special to mess with at all, but recipes like shortcake or this easier-than-pie custard make a good compromise.
The custard is a little like a cream pie filling and a little also like a light cheesecake because tangy yogurt is the base. I’ve seen similar recipes (sometimes with farmers cheese or hoop cheese) in old cookbooks, called cottage puddings. The eggs lighten the mix considerably, and the sweet, flavorful fruit balances the tang.
It’s been a great year for blueberries, the raspberries continue to ripen, and I even saw some strawberries (either still or again!) at the farmers’ market. Maybe you can even gather wild sunberries, blackcaps or dewberries from a briar nearby. If you have small amounts of different berries or even a berry-peach mix (no need to peel the peaches), a custard is a delightful dessert. (Take care not to use all peaches, as they’ll create to much juice to let the pudding set.)
This recipe isn’t very sweet, but you can add more sugar if you like. A sprinkle of brown sugar over top suits me. To make the recipe even simpler, you can use vanilla yogurt to replace the plain yogurt, sugar and vanilla extract. It’s delicious served warm or chilled, and you might serve a couple of plain cookies with the custard to add a little crunch.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
- 2 cups mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries) and/or
- sliced peaches
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 T. sugar
- 1 cup plain yogurt*
- 1½ tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
* To substitute vanilla yogurt, omit white sugar and vanilla extract.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash fruit and gently pat dry. Pour fruit into lightly oiled 8-by-8-inch pan.
Beat together flour, nutmeg, sugar, yogurt, vanilla and eggs, and pour mixture over berries. Sprinkle with brown sugar, if using.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until golden and set. Serve warm or chilled.