I’ve mentioned my school cookery class before. The course was probably subtitled “How to Make Kids Loathe Food”. Without doubt, it worked for certain dishes – like Summer Pudding. Honestly, how can stuffing bread with a few berries in sweet syrup ever amount to anything, especially if the bread is industrial and the berries from a tin.
A friend served me Summer Pudding recently. I poked at it suspiciously remembering the awful school version. However, when I ventured to taste it, my taste buds died and went to heaven. It was one of the sunniest desserts I’ve eaten in a long time. You need to use a day old bread with integrity – that is, with a good springy crumb - and ripe fresh berries. However, the key ingredient is Time – it’s essential for the bread to soak up all the lovely berry juices so make it the day before you need it.
Like any simple dish, it will have a thousand variations. Purists will argue over the type of berries to include. I’ve chosen some of my favourites and included the slightly autumnal blackberries because they were sweet and available, and free. Vary the proportions according to preference and availability. In total you’ll need about 1.125 kg of berries.
For a 1 litre pudding serving 4 – 6 people you will need…
1 tablespoon caster sugar
150 caster sugar
3 tablespoons Triple Sec or other orange liqueur
4 tablespoons water
7 – 9 slices of good white bread. This should be a day old, cut into slices 1cm thick, crusts removed
Whipped cream to serve
1. Choose a few perfect fruits for the top of the pudding and set aside.
2. Hull and halve the strawberries and place them in a non-metallic bowl. Sprinkle with the tablespoon of sugar.
3. Place the rest of the fruit in a medium saucepan with the remaining sugar, Triple Sec and water. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved and the fruit has begun to release its juices – this will only take 3 – 5 minutes. You want the fruit to hold its shape as much as possible. As soon as the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and add the strawberries to the pan. Stir gently to distribute them throughout the rest of the fruit. Taste and add more sugar if required.
4. Line a 1 litre pudding bowl with cling film, leaving an overhang large enough to cover the base of the pudding when folded back across. (It’s easier to line the bowl with two overlapping strips of cling film rather than trying to shape one sheet to fit the bowl.) Cut a circle from one slice of bread large enough to cover the base of the pudding bowl. Do this as neatly as possible as this will form the top of the finished dessert. Cut and arrange slices of bread to line the sides of the bowl – like a bread patchwork - leaving no gaps. If you have any tendency towards engineering or architecture, this is your moment to shine.
5. Spoon the warm berries and boozy juice into the lined pudding bowl and finish with a layer of bread to seal in the berries.
|Berries n booze n bread should equal bleaughhh... but Alchemy intervenes!|
6. Fold the cling film skirt over the pudding and cover with a small plate or saucer that just fits inside the pudding bowl. Weigh it down – I sit a couple of 400g tins on top of the plate. When it has cooled, transfer it to the fridge and leave it – still weighted – overnight.
7. To serve, fold back the cling film. Cover the bowl with a large inverted serving plate. Carefully flip the pudding upside down and remove the cling film. Decorate the pudding with the reserved fruit. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream.
Note: if you prefer to leave the booze out, substitute it for the same amount of good quality berry cordial (undiluted).Pin It