Summer Pudding

Summer in Britain means an abundance of soft fruit, and this year has been a bit of a bumper crop. I just spent the weekend back at the family ranch (note: not an actual ranch) up in Scotland, and the garden was positively groaning with raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants and blackberries. Things don’t get much more local – or tasty – than this.

Often one of the best ways to eat summer’s bounty is “as is”, possibly with cream or ice cream. However, there are times when you want something a bit fancier, but which still shows off these fruits to their best. If this is the case, then you might want to think about a summer pudding.

The origins of summer pudding seem to be a bit vague, but to me it has the air of something that probably comes from the Victoria period. Nothing that I can put my finger on, but I just have a feeling. Origins aside, it’s a real star – light but bursting with flavour.

This dessert is actually quite cunning in its simplicity – cook the fruit for a moment to that the juices are released, then put in a bowl that has been lined with bread. The bread absorbs the juices, and becomes sweet and velvety-soft. And the fruit, as it has had only a minimum of cooking, retains all of its fresh flavours and aromas. It also has a real visual “wow-factor” – it’s a deep purple, and surrounded by fresh fruit straight from the garden, it really does capture the essence of a summer’s day.

Given how simple it is, you might think it should just fall apart. However, as the bread absorbs the juice, the pudding does magically stay together.

To serve, I recommend a dollop of softly whipped cream. I’m normally not a fan of cream on desserts, but in this case, I think it really helps to highlight the flavours and bring them to life, so you can enjoy the “fruits” or your labour in the garden. Or, like me, to take advantage of all the hard work that a family member put in. Thanks!

If you like to experiment, you can try adding a dash of vanilla, a pinch of spices such as cinnamon or cloves, or some citrus zest. If that’s what you like, then go for it, but I like it with just the fruit. Then finish it off by arranging lots and lots of fruit around the pudding in an artful-yet-rustic way. I think you’ll agree, it looks stunning!

To make a large summer pudding:

• 750g soft fruits (raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, strawberries…)
• 1 loaf of slightly stale white bread, thinly sliced and crusts removed
• 150g caster sugar
• 2-3 tablespoons cassis (blackcurrant) liqueur

To prepare the fruit:

Put all the fruit (apart from any strawberries, if using) into a sieve and rinse. Shake dry. Put into a saucepan. Add the sugar and cook over a low heat until the fruit releases its juices but the berries still hold their shape. Leave to cool slightly, then add the chopped strawberries and cassis liqueur (if using).

To assemble the pudding:

Line a pudding bowl with cling film. Cut a circle of bread for the base. Dip one side in the fruit, then place juice-side down in the bowl. Cut more bread into triangles, dip one side in the juice, and use to line the inside of the bowl. At the end you should not have any gaps, and aim to have the bread coming up over the edge of the bowl.

Pour the fruit mixture into the bread-lined bowl. It should come to the rim of the bowl.

Use more bread to cover the fruit (this will form the base of the pudding). My tip is to rest the bread on top of the fruit for a moment, then flip over so that the base will also be properly coloured by the juice. Trim any extra bread from the edge of the bowl.

Place something flat (like a baking tray) on top of the bowl, then weigh down something heavy (stones, tin cans, weights…). Place in the fridge for 4-5 hours or overnight.

To serve:

Remove the pudding from the fridge about an hour before serving. Trim off any bits of excess bread. Put a plate on top of the pudding and with one swift movement, flip over. Remove the pudding bowl, and then carefully peel off the cling film. Garnish with fresh fruit.

Serve in slices with softly whipped cream.

Worth making? Yes yes yes! This is an easy but spectacular dessert – very worth trying, either as a large pudding or in individual portions. Can also be adapted depending on what is in season. In fact, to show how easy it is to make – we did this twice over one weekend. Simple!

14 Comments

Filed under Les saveurs de l’été, Recipe, Sweet Things

14 responses to “Summer Pudding

  1. This looks so beautiful! I love soft fruits but we just don´t get them in Andalucía – too hot!

  2. I love that you said “slightly stale.” When I made Summer Pudding, the bread I used was several days old and the whole thing just tasted like wet, stale bread, which is not nice! I wish the recipe I used had added “slightly” to their description!

    • Good point! I think the “slightly stale” point means the bread is a bit easier to cut and it absorbs the juices more easily as it’s a bit drier. But of course the quality of the bread matters – funny-tasting bread means funny-tasting pudding!

  3. lavieenfribourg

    Your blog is on my favorite list for quite a while now- It´s time to let you know how much I enjoy reading your posts.
    This pudding looks very delicious, very tempting and absolutely like summer!

    • Hi – thanks so much for your comment. I’m glad that you enjoy reading my blog! Also glad you like the summer pudding – there was so much fruit, this was just the perfect way to use it.

      • Oh those Scottish rasps. Just looking at them takes me back so many years to when I was a “berry picker”. Hope there are some left at the “family ranch” when I get there in September. The flavour must be sensational. The pud looks divine.

        • Hi there! I thought this might bring back a few misty-eyed memories. I’ll check with “lady of the ranch” but I think there is a plan to keep a few goodies to one side for later in the year.

  4. It’s been a long time since I’ve made a summer pudding. Too long. Yours looks gorgeous! I’m sure to be making one soon now.

    • Thanks Jean – this is only my second attempt at making summer pudding, but I was very happy with how it turned out. My mum had made one the previous day for a party, and she left the fruit to macerate in the sugar for five hours before re-heating and assembling the pudding. And I have to say, it did add a little extra something to the flavour. Good luck with the pudding! What fruits will you be using?

  5. That looks stunning and very mouth-watering – I don’t think I have seen one look so good!

    • Thanks Lesley! But I think a lot of the credit needs to go to the fruit grower who spent all those chilly mornings in the garden tending to the plants. All that fruit strewn in a rustic fashion around the pud really makes it look special.

  6. autumn allen

    Is this a Scottish Dish ?? I have to make a dish that they eat in Scotland and I want it to be simple and easy! Is this it ??

    • Hi – summer pudding is British, but not specifically Scottish as far as I know. You could make it Scottish by using Scottish fruits – raspberries, brambles (blackberries) and blaeberries (blueberries). Another quick and easy idea – which certainly IS Scottish – is cranachan, made with raspberries, cream, oats and honey. The recipe is here. Otherwise you can make a Scottish fruit dessert called Ecclefechan Butter Tart, which is also nice.

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