An apricot pie from Nigel Slater and Honey & Cos lemon and saffron posset our favourite desserts from our favourite cookery writers

Alison Roman’s frozen berries and labneh with honey

In my opinion, homemade ice-cream, like homemade ketchup, is rarely worth the effort and never as good as you think it’s going to be. I’m of the belief that Baskin-Robbins perfected the game as soon as they made mint chocolate chip, and everyone else can just go home. But you know what is good? This frozen dessert.

Semifreddo-like in nature, this tangy frozen yogurt of sorts has the creaminess of ice-cream and, like picking up a pint of Baskin-Robbins, requires no equipment. You can use any fruit here, but I love the vibrancy and acidity of fruits like blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and plums.

This can be made one week ahead and frozen; just make sure to wrap it tightly in clingfilm. Let it soften in the fridge before serving.

Serves 8
non-stick cooking oil spray
fresh blackberries, raspberries or strawberries (hulled and quartered 350g,
mild-flavoured honey 265g, such as alfalfa or wildflower
double cream 250ml
labne or Greek-style yogurt 375g
flaky sea salt asmall pinch

Spray a 23cm x 10cm loaf tin with non-stick spray and line it with clingfilm (the non-stick spray helps the plastic adhere better, making an otherwise impossible task totally doable).

Cook the fruit and 90g of the honey in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the berries have started to break down and the liquid has thickened, 8-10 minutes; simmering the berries quickly will reduce and thicken the liquid while keeping many of the berries somewhat intact, which is what you want. Remove from the heat and let cool completely, placing the pan in the fridge if you’d like to speed up the process. Once cooled, the berries should have the texture of a loose, spreadable – not pourable – jam.

In a large bowl, whip the double cream to medium-stiff peaks, using an electric mixer or your forearms and a whisk – your choice. Fold in the labneh, the remaining 175g honey and the salt just to blend.

Add the cooled berry mixture and, using a spatula, barely fold it in (maybe three or four times), leaving large streaks of berry throughout. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smoothing the top with a spoon or spatula.

Place the loaf tin in the freezer until the mixture has firmed up, about 2 hours. This is best served around the 2-3 hour mark, when it’s just the perfect texture (not too soft, not too hard). If serving beyond that, let it sit in the fridge for 5-10 minutes or so just to soften up.
From Dining In by Alison Roman (Hardie Grant, £22)

Nigel Slater’s apricot pie

Nigel Slater’s apricot pie. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

My favourite pastry is very soft and a little fragile to handle. I get round this by kneading the dough, briefly and tenderly, on a lightly floured wooden board before rolling.

Serves 6
For the pastry
butter 150g
golden caster sugar 150g
egg 1
lemon grated zest of 1 small
plain flour 250g
baking powder 1 tsp
milk and sugar to finish

For the filling
ripe apricots 750g
caster sugar 2 tbsp
orange grated zest of 1 small
cornflour 1 heaped tbsp

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg, then the lemon zest. Sift the flour and baking powder into the butter and sugar mixture and fold. Form the dough into a ball and knead lightly on a floured surface then cut in half. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for half an hour. Use half of the dough to line a buttered 24cm metal pie plate. Place this, and the remaining half, in the fridge.

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Halve the apricots and remove their stones. Put the apricots in a bowl, toss with the sugar, orange zest and cornflour, then spoon on to the pie lining. Roll the reserved pastry to fit the top. Brush the rim of the pastry in the pie plate with milk, then lower on the pastry top. Seal the edges, pressing or pinching them together, then brush the pie with milk and dust with sugar. Pierce a small hole in the centre to let the steam out. Bake for 45 minutes or so until the crust is pale gold. Leave to settle for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Nigel Slater is the Observer’s cookery writer

Sally Clarke’s raspberry jelly and lavender shortbread

Sally Clarke’s raspberry jelly and lavender shortbread. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Serves 6
For the raspberry jelly
blackcurrants 125g
raspberries 125g
strawberries 300g
sugar 60g
water 150ml
apple juice 300ml
powdered gelatine 4 tsp
whipped double cream to serve

For the shortbread (makes 18-20)
lavender blossoms 1 tsp (approximately 3 heads), finely chopped
caster sugar 100g, plus a little extra for finishing
unsalted butter 200g, softened
plain flour 300g
salt a pinch

To make the raspberry jelly, pick through the blackcurrants, removing the tails, and check the raspberries for stalks. Hull and slice the strawberries. Place the blackcurrants and then the raspberries in a stainless steel pan with the sugar, water and apple juice. Bring to the boil, without stirring, remove from the heat and cover.

Place the gelatine in a small bowl, pour over a little of the warm juices, stir until melted and without a trace of graininess (approximately one minute). Pour the gelatine mixture directly into the fruits and stir very gently so as not to break up the fruit. Place the sliced strawberries into the serving bowl and pour over the fruits and liquid. Give it one final stir, cover and place in the fridge until set.

To make the lavender shortbread, preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3.

Mix the lavender with the sugar and cream into the butter until light. Sieve the flour and salt together and mix into the butter to make a soft dough. Wrap and chill for at least an hour.

Roll the dough to about 5mm thick and cut into discs with a 3-4cm fluted cutter. Lay on a baking sheet lined with silicone paper.

Sprinkle with a little sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes or until pale golden. The shortbread will become crisp on cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

When ready to eat, serve the raspberry jelly with some whipped double cream and the lavender shortbread.
30 Ingredients by Sally Clarke (Frances Lincoln Publishers, £25)

Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s lemon and saffron posset

Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s lemon and saffron posset. Photograph: Patricia Niven

A good dessert for those who don’t make dessert. You won’t need to scour the markets for obscure ingredients or special equipment. You won’t need to clear the afternoon. In fact, this one doesn’t even require an oven, only a hob, a pan and some glasses to pour it in. Sharp, creamy, cool and fresh; as easy on the eye as it is on the tongue. A really good finish to a big meal.

Makes 6 small possets or 4 larger portions
For the possets
double cream 240ml
saffron strands 1 pinch
sugar 80g
lemon zest of 1
lemon juice 40ml (1 juicy lemon should suffice)
For the macerated raspberries
boiling water 30ml
caster sugar 30g
rose water 1 tsp (optional)
raspberries 1 punnet

Put the glasses on a tray (one that will fit in the fridge), to be filled as soon as the cream is prepared.

Place the cream, saffron, sugar and zest in a small saucepan on a medium-low heat and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Once the cream has just started boiling, reduce the heat to very low and stir around while counting to 20 really slowly.

Remove from the heat and pour in the lemon juice in a steady stream, stirring all the time. Quickly pour the posset into the glasses. Carefully lift the tray into the fridge and leave to set firm (it will need at least 2 hours to chill fully).

While you are waiting, pour the boiling water over the sugar in a bowl. Mix to dissolve entirely, then add the rose water (if using). Allow to cool a little, then add the raspberries and gently swirl the bowl so that the fruit is coated.

When you are ready to serve, top each posset with a few macerated raspberries and a bit of the syrup.
Honey & Co At Home: Middle Eastern Recipes From Our Kitchen by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich (Pavilion Books, £26)

Reem Kassis’s aish el saraya – toasted bread pudding with cream and pistachios

Reem Kassis’s aish el saraya – toasted bread pudding with cream and pistachios. Photograph: Altaimage/Dan Perez

The name of this dish means “bread of the royal palaces” and a royal dessert it is indeed. A vestige of the Ottoman rule over Palestine (saraya is a Turkish word), this luxurious dessert is actually very easy to make. Toasted bread is soaked in flavoured sugar syrup then topped with cream and pistachios. While it sounds very simple, the flavours are anything but.

Makes one 23cm round cake
For the base
vegetable oilfor greasing
ready-prepared toasted bread 150g, such as melba toast
caster sugar 250g
lemon juice 1 tsp
butter 25g
orange blossom water 1 tbsp

For the topping
mascarpone cheese 250g (or use ricotta for a lighter version)
double cream 125ml
orange blossom water 1 tsp
unsalted pistachios 120g, coarsely ground
preserved lemon blossom flowers, raspberries, strawberries, or pomegranate seeds to serve (optional)

Lightly grease (use a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil) a 23cm round springform pan and set aside. Put the toast into a large bowl and crush with your hands into small bite-size pieces. Alternatively, pulse to a very coarse crumb in a food processor. Set aside.

Put the sugar, 300ml of water and the lemon juice into a small, heavy pan, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat, add the butter and orange blossom water, and stir until the butter is melted.

Pour the syrup over the toast, mixing very well with a spoon, until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to the greased pan, smoothing out into an even layer, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with the whisk or paddle attachment, whip the mascarpone, double cream and orange blossom water together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy with stiff peaks, about 1 minute. Avoid over-mixing.

Evenly spread out the cream mixture over the bread, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle the pistachios over the cake. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving, until the cream is set.

To serve, remove the cake from the springform pan and place on a cake platter (do not attempt to remove the springform pan base). If using, top with preserved blossom flowers, raspberries, strawberries or some pomegranate seeds for colour.
The Palestinian Table by Reem Kassis (Phaidon, £24.95)

  • 20 best easy pudding recipes part 4 launches tomorrow morning

Read more: