I've been meaning to make an English summer pudding for a couple of years now, and I finally made it this past weekend when I had (again) tubs of blackberries to go through.
The pudding needs to be made a day in advance of serving, but the ingredient list is short and the construction is quite simple -- line a cup with bread soaked in sweetened berry juices, and fill with cooked berries. Hopefully the photos will help explain the construction.After constructing my fruit-filled pudding, I waited until the next day to dig in. What never crossed my mind the past two years I (somewhat) thought about making this dessert, and while actually making this thing, is that I would not like it -- it's just too pretty! -- but I couldn't get past the fact that the bread was wet. It didn't matter that the bread was soaked in sweet, sumptuous fruit juice; I just couldn't love wet bread (I feel the same way about ultra-soggy, coffee-soaked lady fingers in Tiramisu).
I also used plain white bread, and think that a sweeter bread like challah or brioche would be better.
All I can say is please try this dessert ahead of time to see if you like it before you serve it to guests. Food is subjective. You may not have an aversion to wet bread. The English apparently don't, and neither does Gordon Ramsey (it was his recipe I was inspired by), nor do other people.
This dessert would have been a spectacular finale to a dinner, but I'm sure glad I only made two individual servings for myself before trotting this out for others.
The last bread piece is in place, and the pudding is ready to be covered and put in the fridge.
makes 2 servings
2 cups mixed berries (your choice), washed and drained
1/3 cup sugar (more or less depending on tartness of berries)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
6-8 slices of stale challah or white bread, crusts removed
- Combine berries, sugar, and lemon zest in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the juices have released, but the fruits still hold their shape.
- Drain berries for ten minutes over a bowl, reserving the liquid.
- Cut pieces of bread to fit your mold (in my case, large cups to make 2 individual servings) - For each cup you will have 1 round piece to fit the bottom of the cup, 2 rectangles to wrap around the inner sides of the cup (1 slice of bread cut lengthwise should make 2 rectangles), and 1 piece to fit the top of the cup.
- Dip each side of the pieces of bread one at a time into the reserved liquid as you assemble the pudding. Start with the piece of bread lining the bottom of the cup, then the 2 rectangles lining the side.
- Fill the bread-lined cup with about half of the drained berries, level to the top of the bread, pressing down on the berries with the back of a spoon. Then top the berries with the final piece of bread.
- Cover and chill overnight in the refrigerator. Also refrigerate any remaining reserved fruit juice.
- To serve, invert the cup on a serving plate. If the pudding does not come out easily, pry the sides with a knife. Drizzle tops of pudding with fruit juice, and garnish.