September 26, 2020


We have been enjoying Mary Berry's new TV series called "Simple Comforts".  With so much uncertainty about the coming months I need simple and comfort more than ever.  Mary is such a genius at what I would call proper home cooking.  Designed for us ordinary folk for every day meals and the special family occasion.  You really can't go wrong with her recipes.

However, I did with this one!

Here we are back in the UK for the next six months, pining for the lost months that we didn't have in France this year but at the same time feeling so thankful that we managed to get there at all and enjoy eight glorious weeks of almost uninterrupted sunshine.  Back home we are almost through our quarantine period and the weather has been perfect.  Some would call it an Indian summer.  It's been wonderful to be able to sit in our little garden and enjoy some fresh air, even on rainy days the sun has come out in the afternoon.  Quarantine could have been so much worse if it was cold and wet most of the time.

Nick has nurtured our flowering plants back to life so that we have been able to enjoy some colour in the garden.  I picked some of our flowers to cheer us up indoors.  To our delight we have also found that our rhubarb plant, only one year old, continues to keep on giving.

In the first episode of her new series Mary made an apple dessert called "brioche frangipane apple pudding" which looked both delicious and easy to make.  For the base she used slices of brioche and it just so happened that I had brought a sliced brioche back with me from France.

I also had loads of rhubarb from the garden so I decided to use that instead of apples.

Unfortunately it didn't work out quite right as I used the wrong size of dish.  Mine was slightly smaller in diameter and a bit deeper.  The upshot of this was that when the cooking time was up, the middle of the pie was still uncooked, positively liquid in fact.  So I had to cook it for much longer and in spite of covering it with foil to try to prevent burning it did end up being rather crozzled around the edges.  Which does go to show that size does matter!

I was disappointed to say the least and didn't do the extra step of brushing with an apricot glaze and sprinkling with flaked almonds.

However, it was yummy!  Ignoring the occasional rather dark tasting bits, it was quite delicious.  I will definitely be making it again, either with apples or with rhubarb.  Possibly even with sliced pears or plum halves.  But next time I will use a larger, shallower dish.

I especially like the idea of using a layer of brioche for the base of the pie (or pudding).  It worked really well and is a nice change from a pastry bottom.  (Although mine was a touch overdone.)  I shall be doing that again!

The episode with the recipe is currently still available on BBC iPlayer and you can see it on the internet here and here.


4-5 slices of brioche loaf
175g spreadable butter (I used Lurpak spreadable)
175g caster sugar
1 tsp almond extract
175g ground almonds
3 eggs
25g plain flour
about 6 sticks of rhubarb, washed and cut into 5cm lengths


Preheat the oven to 200° C / 180° fan / gas mk 6.  Butter a large, shallow baking dish about 28cm dia.

Press slices of brioche into the bottom of the dish, filling in gaps but not overlapping.

Put the butter and sugar into a food processor and whizz until light and fluffy.  Add the extract, almonds eggs and flour and whizz again until nice and smooth.  Spread the mixture evenly over the brioche base and arrange the fruit on top.  

Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown and the centre is firm.  Serve warm.

Cuts into 8 generous slices.


I made it again using a larger, shallower dish and it worked better.  It was cooked perfectly in the 40 minutes stated in the recipe.  I also used slightly less ground almonds and more flour; 150g and 50g.  This was because that's all the ground almonds I had in stock but it was still delicious - if anything I preferred it.

I later made it in an even bigger dish, 28cm, using apples as per Mary's original recipe and that worked even better!  You can read about it if you go here.


  1. Looks very much like my sort of dessert. I'll give it a whirl once I've got a brioche.

    1. Susan, I'm sure you will enjoy it, whatever fruit you use.

    2. It also occurred to me that I could use the same dish again if I only made half of the filling, i.e. 100g of each ingredient, maybe half a tblsp of flour and 2 eggs.

  2. I like the sound of this. I'm not a great fan of pastry so this could be just right!

    1. Gaynor, it's an easy way to make a base and worked really well. I'm thinking of experimenting with other puds, such as using a simple sponge topping instead of the frangipane. I'll no doubt be reporting back here if it works!

  3. I like Mary's programme and made this with apples. My son and family loved it. Got some rhubarb so will try this too.

    1. Snowy, it was lovely with rhubarb. I also feel compelled to make it using pears asap!

  4. I can't tell you how many times I've got the size of the dish wrong and lived to regret it. I've not watched the MB series (I know she's a National Treasure and I really should) but this reminds me of some of the desserts I've enjoyed in the Picardy and Somme areas. They're quite different to more typical French desserts and often use a brioche or bread base with apples or rhubarb. This sounds lovely.

    1. Phil, now I think about it, I remember eating this kind of dessert in France and wondering how they made the base.
      The first programme in the series was French themed and I'm sure you would enjoy it. We found it very poignant yet comforting, having just left France ourselves with not much hope of going back this year. It will be on iPlayer for a while I think.

  5. Making this now -- in my usually too big flan dish, with rhubarb. Will report back.

  6. It definitely needs 10 minutes more baking than the recipe says. I wouldn't do this with rhubarb again. I think it will be better with fruit that is sweeter and juicier -- apples, pears, plums, raspberries.

    1. I bet it would be lovely with apricots!