Autumn pudding (or Fall pudding, for my North American friends) is full of fruit which has been lightly stewed with warm spices, and layered with thick slices of rich, buttery brioche.
It’s an easy, no-bake, make-ahead dessert that will delight your family and wow your guests!
Preparation: about 40 minutes
Resting: at least 8 hours, up to a day
~ 1.5kg or 3 1/3 lb mixed autumn fruits (see below)
500ml (2 cups) unsweetened apple juice
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
about 12 thick (about 1.5cm or 2/3″ thick) slices brioche, not too fresh, crusts trimmed
Notes: I used 400g / 14 oz (2 large) Golden Delicious apples, 600g / 21 oz (6 small) Conference pears, and a 550g (1 1/4 lb) potimarron (a.k.a. Red kuri squash, Japanese or Hokkaido squash), as well as 60g (1/2 cup) raisins. Brioche comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but you’ll need enough to make three layers in your pan.
Peel and core the apples, pears and squash, and cut everything into 1cm (about 2/5″) slices.
Combine apple juice, sugar and spices in wide, heavy-based saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Add dried fruit if using, then the squash and cook for 5 – 10 minutes until starting to soften, then add the apples and cook for 5 minutes, and finish with the pears, stir together gently, cover and cook for a further 5 – 10 minutes. The cooking time will depend on the type, variety and ripeness of the fruit used – it should be tender but not mushy.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
Drain fruit in a colander set over a bowl, reserving the juice.
Meanwhile, line a 24cm (9 or 10″) round springform cake pan with a couple of large sheets of plastic wrap, leaving enough overhang to cover the top completely.
Cover the base of the pan with slices of brioche. Triangles are generally easiest to fit together, with odd bits cut to fit the gaps.
Drizzle about 1/4 cup of the reserved juice all over the bread, covering it completely.
Spoon in half the drained fruit, packing it tightly without crushing it.
Cover the fruit with a second layer of brioche, press it down then and drizzle more juice over the top.
Spoon in the remaining fruit, packing it in carefully, then top with another layer of brioche. Spoon enough juice over it that the top is quite wet.
Cover the pudding with the overhanging plastic wrap, then put a plate, pie dish or the base of another springform pan on top of it, and weigh it down with a couple of big cans of fruit or similar, so it presses down on the pudding.
Refrigerate any remaining juice for serving, and refrigerate the pudding for at least 8 hours, up to a day. I put mine on a plate in the fridge because I noticed a little leakage of the liquid – my plastic wrap wasn’t quite wide enough to come all the way up the side of my pan so it wasn’t completely watertight.
Note: If desired, any remaining juice can be brought to a rapid boil to thicken to a syrup for serving, before refrigerating along with the pudding.
To serve, remove the weights and plate and the side of the pan, open the plastic wrap on the top of the pudding, invert a serving plate on top and flip the whole thing over onto the plate, remove the base of the pan and the plastic wrap.
Drizzle any remaining juice over/around the pudding.
Cut with a serrated knife and serve with a dollop of double cream, or a scoop of ice cream.