2 tbsp orange, raspberry, or almond liqueur (optional)
Preheat your oven to its lowest setting, no higher than 200°F.
Slice your bread thickly. You can use white bread, challah, cinnamon bread, Hawaiian bread, brioche or any bread other than aggressively savory types such as sourdough, rye or whole wheat.
Lay your bread slices out on a baking sheet. You may need more than one baking sheet. Place the bread in the oven & let it sit for 20 minutes. Turn the slices over & let the bread sit for another 20 minutes. This dries out the bread, allowing it to soak up the fruit juices without becoming soggy. You can also lay the bread out on sheets & let it sit on the counter overnight to air dry.
While the bread is drying, wash all of your fruit & drain it well.
Pull the tops off the strawberries. Slice the strawberries thickly.
Slice the plums & discard the pits.
Place the strawberries, plums & blueberries into a large saucepan. Add the orange, raspberry or almond liqueur for a richer dessert, if you like. Gently stir in the sugar & cinnamon. Heat the mixture to a simmer & let it cook for 5 minutes.
Stir in the raspberries & remove the fruit from the heat.
Cut the crusts off the bread.
Line your casserole dish with cling wrap, making sure that at least 2″ overhangs the edge. You may need to lay one sheet across the width & one across the length.
Press half of the ‘crustless’ bread slices into the bottom of the casserole dish. Arrange them with the edges overlapping so that they make a complete crust.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop the fruit out of its bowl & into the casserole dish on top of the bread. Keep the leftover juices, because you’ll use them later.
Arrange the other half of the bread loaf on top of the fruit. Press it down firmly.
Cover the bread completely with cling wrap. Place a plate that fits just inside of the casseroles dish on top of the cling wrap. Weight it down with two or three small cans of soup or a large can of tomatoes. Refrigerate the pudding for 8 hours or overnight.
Take the pudding out of the refrigerator & remove the cans and cling wrap. Turn the pudding out onto a serving plate & remove the cling wrap. Pour the reserved juices over the pudding & sprinkle just enough sugar on top to lightly coat it.
Cut the pudding into wedges & serve it with whipped cream & fresh mint for a garnish.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F). Brush a round 22cm (9″) base measurement cake pan with melted dairy spread to lightly grease. Line the base with non-stick baking paper.
Combine the cocoa powder & hot water in a medium bowl. Combine the instant coffee powder & boiling water in a cup. Add the coffee to the cocoa mixture & stir until combined.
Add almond meal, sugar, & egg yolks to cocoa mixture, & stir until well combined.
Use an electric beater to whisk egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Use a metal spoon to fold a spoonful of egg whites into cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold in remaining egg whites until just combined.
Pour mixture into prepared pan. Place cake pan in a roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach two-thirds of the way up the side of the cake pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Remove cake pan from water bath & set aside for 20 minutes to cool Turn cake onto a wire rack & remove paper. Set aside for another 20 minutes or until cooled to room temperature.
Cut cake into wedges & carefully transfer to serving plates. Serve with strawberries
Slice the rhubarb thinly and put it, the brown sugar, water, & spices in a saucepan on lowest heat for about an hour, with the lid on, until the rhubarb has totally collapsed. Strain the liquid into a bowl or jug. Remove the cinnamon & star anise & then set the rhubarb aside to cool.
Create a batch of sweet shortcrust pastry (see link for recipe). Once you’ve mixed it all up, put it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
Roll out your pastry & place in your tart or pie dish. Cover with parchment paper & fill with rice or baking weights & bake for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool while melting chocolate.
Melt 375g (about 13.2 oz) of semi-sweet good quality chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, pour it into the base of the tart. Don’t fill it too much, you want just a thin layer. Refrigerate until chocolate sets.
Make custard. You could do this from scratch, or use 1 box of custard powder & make according to the directions on the package.
Once your chocolate/pastry has hardened, put a layer of the cooled rhubarb on top of the chocolate. Pour the custard over the rhubarb & put in the refrigerator to set. You need the custard to set to about the firmness of Jell-O before you top with strawberries.
Decorate the top with strawberries. It’s hard to say exactly how many you will need, but about three baskets should do it. Once the custard has set, layer the strawberries, halved, on top of the custard in a circle starting from the outer edge until right in the middle. Make a second layer on top to cover any visible gaps where you can see the custard.
Sprinkle with fine white sugar & put back in the refrigerator. The strawberries will absorb the sugar & turn into a sort of glaze. If you want to get fancy, you can use a dessert torch to heat the sugar & caramelize it into a nice crust. Serve with vanilla ice cream on the side.
Chef’s Note: You can omit the rhubarb and use more strawberries to turn this into just a strawberry tart.