Autumn fruit charlotte and elderberry sauce

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

I can't resist gathering elderberries when they are ripe and just dangling from the trees. I keep them in the freezer for sauces, to scatter on a salad or add to other autumn fruits in a crumble or pudding. No one else seems to pick them; maybe it's that poisonous berry fear. Now elderflowers have become fashionable in cordials and the like perhaps the berries will follow. You can use a selection of fruits for this or just pears and blackberries, for example, or whatever is available.

I can't resist gathering elderberries when they are ripe and just dangling from the trees. I keep them in the freezer for sauces, to scatter on a salad or add to other autumn fruits in a crumble or pudding. No one else seems to pick them; maybe it's that poisonous berry fear. Now elderflowers have become fashionable in cordials and the like perhaps the berries will follow. You can use a selection of fruits for this or just pears and blackberries, for example, or whatever is available.

1 large very ripe pear, peeled, cored and chopped into rough 1cm cubes
200g blackberries, blueberries, figs or ripe plums
2tbsp caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, melted
10-14 thin slices of white bread
200g thick spooning cream or clotted cream

for the sauce

100ml water
100g caster sugar
120g elderberries, removed from the stalks

Mix the pears with the other fruits and sugar.

Then prepare the charlotte part. You will need 4 individual pudding basins, measuring about 8cm across by 5-6cm deep. Remove the crusts from the bread and melt the butter. Cut 8 discs slightly smaller than the top of the pudding basins. Then cut 8 rectangular pieces of bread approximately 7cm x 12cm.

To line the moulds dip the rectangles of bread in the melted butter on both sides and line the sides of the moulds, overlapping the pieces of bread slightly. Dip the discs on both sides and push one into the bottom of each mould using your fingers to form a seal.

Fill the moulds with the fruit mixture. Top with the 4 remaining discs and join the bread with your fingers. Turn the moulds up the other way on to a board or tray for about 10 minutes to help them to form the seal on the bottoms.

Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 200°C/ gas mark 6.

Turn the moulds back up the other way, cover the tops loosely with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 175°C/Gas mark 5 and cook for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn upside down and leave for up to 20 minutes or so until they are served. They will keep their heat for even longer, so when you're ready to serve just take off the basins.

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