Food & Drink: Weekend Cook 12: Blackberry Fool Serves four. Total time: 20 minutes

THE COUNTRYSIDE surrounding our farmhouse in Normandy is known as the ebocage, a medieval arrangement of fields traced by the lines of hedgerows. These are the kind of hedgerows whose loss we bemoan in this country, an impenetrable tangled mass made up of an anarchic diversity of flowers, bushes, small trees and grasses.

I have been eyeing up the rich promise of elderberries and blackberries since early August for a delicious treat I have promised myself.

500g/1lb 2oz blackberries

110g/4oz vanilla sugar*

300ml/1/2 pint whipping


Reserving 75g/3oz of the blackberries, place the remainder with the sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently until the berries turn a pinker shade and shed copious juices. Remove from the heat, whizz the fruit to a puree in a food processor and press through a sieve, then leave to cool. Whip the cream in a large bowl as stiffly as possible without it curdling. Fold in two-thirds of the blackberry puree, a third at a time, and stir the reserved berries into the remainder of puree. Cover the fool and the sauce and chill if not serving straightaway. You spoon it into small bowls or glasses, trickling the reserved sauce on top.

*You can make vanilla sugar by whizzing a chopped vanilla pod in a food processor with 225g/8oz caster sugar. Sieve and keep it in an airtight jar.

Annie Bell