Summer Pudding is a quintessentially British dessert made from wonderful fresh ingredients only available in the summer months.
It is redolent of a private dinner at a smart country house, maybe somewhere in the Surrey hills near Shere, with the taste of an exquisite first course still lingering, a bottle of chilled champagne still half full, and the prospect of more enticing conversation to come as the evening turns into night. Once you make it once, you'll make it again and again!
- 1 punnet strawberries
- 1 punnet raspberries
- ½ punnet blackcurrants
- ½ punnet redcurrants
- 1 loaf of white, sliced, pappy sort of bread or, for a special treat, a large slab of Brioche
- 2 Tbsp caster sugar
- the zest of a lime chopped finely
- 2 or 3 mint leaves again, finely chopped
- a bottle of the best quality blackcurrant cordial you can find, in reserve
First you will need to find yourself a pudding bowl about 5 inches in diameter which you will need to butter well on the inside. It should preferably however NOT be greater in diameter that the size of your (assumedly square) pieces of sliced white bread or brioche.
If you are worried about getting the whole thing out of the bowl in one piece, line the bowl first with some cling film. It's a fiddly job, but ensures you get a perfect shape at the end !!
Take the Blackcurrants and redcurrants, mint leaves and Lime zest and turn them into a saucepan. Add the sugar and about 3 Tbsp Water, and on the lowest possible heat setting of your cooker, poach them for about 5 minutes. Add the strawberries - having cut any large ones in half - and poach for another minute.
Turn the heat OFF and add the raspberries. Leave to cool
Now for the fun part !!
Take your bowl and using it as a cutter, cut a circle out of the white bread the same diameter as the top of the bowl itself.
Now find a cup or glass that is roughly the same diameter as the bottom of your bowl and do the same.
Next, using a sharp knife for both cutting and as a measuring implement, slice the white bread (no crusts allowed!!) into squares or oblongs, roughly the same height as the bowl which will be used to line the inside of the bowl. This does not have to be an exact science, but close is good !!
In simple terms what we are trying to do is to line the bowl with the white bread.
Now, lay the small circle of white bread on the bottom of the bowl. Put the oblongs of white bread up the side of the bowl, overlapping slightly, and pour the fruit mixture into the void right up to the top. don't be mean with the juice either. The bread should become well soaked in the juice from the cooked fruit.
Indeed if there is not enough juice to soak the bread so it turns very red, use the cordial as a top-up.
Now, complete the mould, and place the large circle, or disc, of bread on the top and press it down well.
It's now necessary to press the whole thing down, so that the sauce sort of glues the bread together and so please find a weight or something that fits into the top of the bowl so it squashes everything down tight, and place it in the fridge for at least 40 minutes.
When you are ready to serve the pudding, carefully using a knife, release the bread mould from the side of the bowl, and invert the whole thing onto a plate.
If things become a little fraught and wobbly at this point...and the photo accompanying this page is a quite brilliant example!.....don't panic, and sort of whack everything back into shape using a wooden spoon.
Decorate your plate with some more summer fruit, maybe a couple of mint leaves and an artistic dollop of fresh whipped cream or crème fraîche and serve with a flourish.
Bon Appetit !