Summer pudding is a classic British dessert that makes clever and tasty use of ripe seasonal berries and a family's slightly stale white bread. Hard to believe such humble ingredients and simple preparation might make a lovely looking dessert that is fit for company, but it is true.
Summer pudding is easy too, a dream of a dessert for the hottest of hot summer days. Simply line a bowl or Charlotte mold with bread slices, fill these with a fruit sauce made from any combination of summer berries - strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, red currants - and then chill overnight. The refrigerator does all the work for you. The next day, right before serving, unmold the pudding onto a plate and witness the alchemy of plain white sandwich bread being transformed into a jewel-toned dome of fresh berry deliciousness. In British parlance, the word "pudding" means dessert, and not one of the creamy, custardy comfort food concoctions Americans know as pudding. This dessert is instead light and fruit forward. Here, I have used the season's first raspberries, but use any berry or combination of berries you have available.
1 loaf of thinly sliced, homemade style white sandwich bread, or a loaf of dense-textured artisan white bread thinly sliced
4 cups fresh raspberries
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons Chambord or Framboise (optional)
1. Line a 1 ¬ quart glass mixing bowl with 2 sheets of plastic wrap, crossing one over the other, and leaving an overhang of about 2 inches on all sides.
2. Remove 13 slices of white bread from the loaf, or slice about the same amount if using a whole artisan loaf. Remove the crusts from the bread slices. Trim one slice to a circle that will fit snugly into the bottom of the lined glass bowl.
3. Cut 8 slices of the remaining bread in half diagonally, forming triangles. Line these 16 triangles around the side of the bowl to cover, overlapping slightly to fit them in. Set the bowl aside.
4. Place the raspberries (or any berries you are using) into a medium saucepan together with the sugar and the liqueur, if you are using it. Set the heat under the pan to medium and bring the berries to a simmer. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, pressing the berries gently with the back of the wooden spoon to crush them slightly as you go along. This will take no more than 5 minutes.
5. After the sugar is dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and let the fruit cool. When cool, spoon or ladle half of the fruit mixture into the bread-lined bowl. Top this fruit with one whole slice of bread. Ladle the rest of the berry mixture onto that slice.
6. Using the last 3 slices of bread, trim these to fit and completely cover the fruit sauce.
7. Cut a piece of parchment or plastic wrap into a circle that will fit over this last layer of the bread. Top this with a cardboard circle (a round cake board works well here). Pull the overhanging edges of plastic up over the cardboard and wrap tightly. Weight this down with a large can or other 2-pound weight. Place the pudding in the refrigerator and chill for 24 hours.
8. When ready to serve, remove the can and open up the plastic wrap. Remove the cardboard and the parchment circle. Place a large flat serving plate over the bowl and invert the pudding onto the plate. Lift off the bowl and carefully remove the plastic wrap.
Cut the pudding into wedges as you would a cake and serve with whipped cream and additional fresh berries if desired.
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Recipe courtesy of Jane Ward, author and Blogger - Food & Fiction, 2012.