Slattery’s summer souffle, Christmas 1990 and forever more

The perfect Christmas present from a cook has to be something fantastic, yet simple to make, something surprising, yet so obvious when you make it; full of colour without gratuity; and something you’d want to make again and again and again. And it has to be seasonal, of summer exclusively, so it will be longed for at this time next year and forever. I finally found it after a lot of tasting and testing: a souffle of apricot, raspberries and blueberries, served, of course, with vanilla bean ice cream.

It sounds, I know, a monument to the worst excesses of smart-arse cooking. Put as many flash ingredients as you can into a bowl, whoosh them all around, make clever noises at the end, and you’ll be sure to finish up with a load of old rubbish.

Not here. What I wanted to do was create a vehicle which would see the berries just cooked, just barely warmed through, so they would be at the point of giving off their juices,

without getting even close to the fall apart stage. I included blueberries in the recipe because I wanted to find some use for them after years of searching, and I was certain they were at their best when just warmed through. Anyway, I’ve got an eye for the US market: they go bananas over blueberries. Raspberries, I knew, are at the height of the glory when warm and running with juice.

I tossed in the apricots because I wanted to create the perfect berry souffle without using berries ac a base, because if you whizz berries and fold them with egg whites they lose a lot of their ooomph, react with the sugar to get jammy, and lose that delicious, intense colour. Not so apricots.

So, it became a souffle of stewed apricots, with raspberries and blueberries in suspension. It’s my Christmas present to me, every Christmas, and to you too. I hope you love it as much as I do.

10–12 best quality, slightly sharp apricots

1–2 dessertspoons sugar for stewing the apricots

4 egg whites

2 dessertspoons sugar for whisking the whites

dozen perfect raspberries

dozen perfect blueberries — You could also use blackberries, or blackcurrants, but not strawberries: they don’t handle cooking.


Cook the apricots with just enough sugar (probably about 1½ dessertspoons) to maintain their delicious flavour without getting sweet. You can do this in the microwave or on top of the stove. They should be cooked until soft enough to puree with the back of a fork and a sieve. Or do it in the whizzer. Allow to cool.


Prepare your whisk and bowl so they are absolutely clean. Now whisk the egg whites with the 2 dessertspoons of sugar until they form peaks and are firm enough to hold their own. Be patient: about 5 minutes of effort.


Lightly grease a souffle mould, or moulds. You can also use a flat, low-sided baking dish.


Fold half the egg whites through the apricot puree, folding and folding to maintain the lightness of the show. Add the rest of the whites and incorporate all the apricot puree. Taste to ensure there remains a ripping apricot flavour, with just a touch of sweetness.


Put a layer of raspberries and blueberries at the bottom of the bowl, then some souffle, followed by a layer of raspberries gently, then some mix, then blueberries, then raspberries, etc., until you get to the top of the bowl. Make sure the top of the last row of berries is covered by mixture. You should get maybe two rows of raspberries and one of blueberries, depending on the size of the bowl.


Bake in a 200°C oven for about 18–20 minutes until the souffle has cleared the top of the bowl and is standing up as happy as a new Christmas tree.


Dust the top with a little icing sugar for real style. Serve with your best ice cream. And a Happy Christmas to you all.

WINE: When it’s 100°F in a water bag on Christmas Day, this makes a lot more sense than the traditional pud. You can serve it with an icy-cold glass of sweet white wine — then retire for coffee and brandy in the next room.