The two celebrations most often shared outside are Litha (summer solstice) and Lammas/Lughnasagh (August 1st ish). The days are usually still warm and it is enjoyable to have a personal connection to that big ball of flame above us.
Lammas is also linked to “first fruits” and in the Church of England “the feast of first fruits”. Tenants were expected to present the first wheat of the harvest to their landlords, on or before the first of August. The term is not connected to actual fruit but all the same fruit is often included as a symbol of the celebration as many varieties are also being harvested during these months.
If the celebrating is happening indoors and perhaps a little more formally, here is an simple although slightly persnickety way to bring the element of fire to any festive meal.
You will need:
fresh fruit ( see more below )
ricotta or cream cheese
a little sweetener ( I used agave)
cookies to create the wood pile
What fruit is used will change depending on the time of the year. Red, orange and yellow toned fruits are the best choices to represent the flames. Berries and mangos are helpful in June and peaches, apricots and melons will work towards August. Watermelon and bananas will most likely be available for both.
As Lughnasadh is the first of three harvest festivals, gratitude is highly appropriate. Generally speaking 1 in 4 years the wheat crop failed in the early years. Getting to harvest meant, life to the members of any community, literally. Giving thanks for safety over the coming winter is a blessing we can all understand, in theory if not actual experience and if actual experience, more so. Take a deep breath in and hold for a amount before releasing with thanks. Begin.
Bananas will do better with a lemon wash to delay browning.
Cut the fruit pieces to look like flames and chop the leftover bits. They will become the filling.
I used Sfogliatella cookies. They are light and crispy and can be seen just to the left. These were store bought rectangles that are essentially pastry with sugar on top. Sfogliatella is also known as a different style of cookie altogether.
So as not to be confusing the point here is to find a crisp cookie that can represent the wood of the fire in your dessert. Whatever works for you and is easily available. Choose cookies that can stand up by themselves. That will make it easier to build the dessert.
The filling is all the cut up pieces of extra fruit combined with a tablespoon of ricotta cheese per serving and a teaspoon or so of agave. The amounts are flexible but keep it as dry as possible. Too much liquid and things get runny. The purpose of the mixture is to act as a kind of mud (sounds appetizing doesn’t it) to hold the slices of fresh fruit in place.
Put a couple of tablespoons of the fruit mixture inside the cookie box and fill with fresh fruit slices, placing the pieces to look like flames.
Serve fairly quickly as the moisture will soften the cookies over time.