We have a lot of visitors coming this summer, all travelling from what will be the depths of the Australian winter to the warm sunshine of the northern hemisphere. And, as always when we are expecting visitors from abroad, I am menu planning. The usual suspects always feature – things in involving cheese and chocolate, because Switzerland – but what better way than to show off the season’s best fruit than a summer pudding!
Summer pudding is a traditional British dessert dating from the late 19th century, originating is health spas as an alternative to heavy pastry puddings. It requires very few ingredients (at its most basic, fresh fruit and stale bread), is easy peasy to make, and is super convenient for dinner parties because it’s best made a day ahead. It also freezes well, tightly covered in plastic wrap, then defrosted in the fridge overnight. Served with a dollop of double cream, or a scoop of ice cream, it makes an impressive dessert that is ideal for warm summer evenings.
You can use any kind of berries available – raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, red currants… And you can veer from tradition and into indulgence by replacing the white bread with brioche or sponge cake.
This recipe comes from my Secret Recipe Club assignment for May, Katie, who, like me, is an expat having moved from an English-speaking part of the world to a French-speaking one. Her blog is a veritable treasure trove of recipes for all seasons, and I have bookmarked more asparagus recipes than I care to admit! I will admit to making a couple of wee changes to Katie’s Summer Pudding recipe though – I upped the sugar a tad, I omitted the apple, and in my reading about summer pudding I discovered that it’s quite common the add a bit of Crème de Cassis, of which I happened to have a bottle in the cupboard.
Preparation: about 40 minutes
Resting: at least 8 hours, up to a day
60ml (4 Tbsp or 1/4 cup) Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), or blackcurrant juice
30ml (2 Tbsp) water
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar (or to taste)
~ 1.25kg or 2 3/4lb or 8 – 9 cups mixed fresh berries
6 – 12 slices white bread, not too fresh, crusts trimmed
Combine Crème de Cassis (or blackcurrant juice), water and sugar in medium, heavy-based saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Add berries, stir in gently and cook for 5 – 8 minutes. The cooking time will depend on the type and ripeness of the berries – they should be tender but still holding their shape. My raspberries were very ripe, so most of them pretty much disintegrated, but the rest of the fruit held up okay.
Remove from heat and allow to rest for about 20 minutes, to allow the juices to leach from the fruit a bit.
Drain fruit over a bowl, reserving the juice.
Meanwhile, line a pudding bowl (about 6 cups or 1 1/2 litres/quarts capacity) with bread, being careful to cover it completely but not overlapping. Triangles are easiest to fit together.
Drizzle about 1/2 cup of the reserved juice all over the bread, covering it as completely as you can.
Spoon in the drained fruit, packing it tightly without crushing it.
Cover the top with more bread, and drizzle about 1/4 cup of juice over the top.
Cover the pudding with plastic wrap, then put a weighted plate on top of it so it presses down on the pudding.
Refrigerate any remaining fruit and juice for serving, and refrigerate pudding for at least 8 hours, up to a day.
To serve, slide a fine bladed knife or flexible plastic spatula between the pudding and the bowl to loosen it, put a serving plate on top and flip it over to unmold onto the plate.
Cut with a large serrated knife.
Serve with remaining fruit and juice and a dollop of double cream, or a scoop of ice cream.