To the average raspberry lover nothing says ‘delightful dessert’ more than a traditional Summer Pudding. It is without doubt my favourite and I only wish those divinely plump berries were available all year round to satisfy my desire for this traditional English fare, but then again, if that were the case perhaps I would not delight in it so much, the anticipation of the berry season making the long awaited melt in your mouth moment all the more heavenly when it finally arrives.
So, what is Summer Pudding? To those of you without a British background, the concept of slightly stewed fruit and bread might sound a tad ordinary, but to the initiated it is pure indulgence, of the simplest most innocent kind. It is a pudding of dark juice soaked casing, hiding within it the wonderful visual delight of red and purple summer freshness, and when served with fresh cream the combination is nothing short of fresh produce perfection!
The method is simple, and though there are many variations on the theme of Summer Pudding I will share with you my favourite. Traditionally a pudding mould is lined with white bread, and then a few cups of berries which have been heated in a pan with a little sugar until they release some juices, are poured into the mould, covered with another layer of bread and left in the fridge to set for a few hours. Very very simple, however, I find with this method sometimes not quite enough liquid is produced to truly soak the bread, and I don’t like my bread to actually look or taste like bread, so I recommend making up a little berry coulis to make sure your bread is indeed truly soaked. Other than that, my recipe is pretty traditional, no added alcohol or other modern additions.
Here goes, you will need:
o 1kg of mixed northern hemisphere summer fruits, basically anything with the word berry at the end, except of course pepperberries, definitely wouldn’t recommend those. Red and black currents are great too. My favourite combination is heavy on the raspberries and strawberries and one darker berry like the blueberry or mulberry
o 1/3 cup castor sugar
o 1/3 cup water
o 1 Loaf white bread, slightly stale is best. Note, you will most likely use less bread if you make individual puddings
o Set aside 1/3 of the berries to decorate the final pudding
o Begin by removing the crusts and slicing the bread about 1cm thick. Cut to suit lining the dish you are using for the pudding mould. This can be a glass bowl, jelly mould or individual ramekin dishes. Lay out the cut bread on a tray
o Gently heat the water and castor sugar in a pan till sugar has melted then add another 1/3 of the mixed berries and stew on a low to medium heat till soft. If you must add another flavour, this is the time to do it, a sprig of mint or a vanilla bean perhaps
o Pour stewed fruit in to a sieve and press through to create the coulis. Discard the remaining bits in the sieve.
o Spoon enough coulis over the bread slices to soak them through, or gently dip slices in being careful not to break
o Add remaining berries to left over coulis and place over heat again, bring to the boil and remove from heat immediately
If making one large pudding:
o Line the mould with the soaked bread in a single layer, overlapping slightly.
o Spoon in a layer of fruit
o Cover with a layer of bread
o Layer of fruit
o Layer of bread
o Layer of fruit
o Final layer of bread
o Cover with plastic wrap and then place a small plate on top to weigh down and keep the pudding firm. Refrigerate for a few hours to set.
o Turn out on a plate, decorate with remaining fresh berries and serve with fresh cream
If making individual puddings:
o The method is the same as above however, a small pudding does not allow for layering, so simply line ramekin dish with bread, fill with berry mixture, top with bread lid and refrigerate.
Tip: Set aside some of the coulis for serving. When the pudding is turned out simply pour a little coulis over, place a good dollop of cream alongside and sprinkle around with fresh berries.