A Recipe for Summer Pudding
English Food doesn't always suck:
The proof is in the pudding!
On Saturday I was in charge of making some desserts for a BBQ and pool party some friends were throwing in honour of both Bastille Day and Fred's birthday. I know, je sais, I should have been making French pastries, tarts and choux to fit in with the theme, but I just couldn't resist the chance to help further improve the reputation of English cookery in the eyes of an International audience instead.
The red-stained Summer Pudding not only looks stunning, it involves no baking and it simply tastes wonderful. It might even be the best pudding in the world. Ask him, he'll back me up on this one. Traditionally, this dessert uses redcurrants which are more difficult, although not impossible, to find in the Bay Area. When I can't easily find redcurrants, I use a mixture of all the best, ripest and most juicy, red fruits that the farmers markets have to offer instead. Juice is the key to this pudding so keep that in mind when you make your berry selection. I experimented this time round, adding the zest of a lemon to the fruit. This move was inspired by June Taylor who I learnt adds citrus zest to her jams when I took her conserve-making class recently. [Thanks to her, I found that adding the zest really draws out the flavour of the other fruits whilst adding an extra dimension to the end result.]
Remember! You have to start this pudding the day before you want to serve it, so although it is easy to make you do have to plan in advance. And also remember! If you use wonderbread and pre-packed fruit from the chill cabinet in Safeway, the result will be incomparable to the superior version that will come of using pesticide-free fruits from the market and good-quality organic bread instead.
How to Make Summer Pudding:
1 dense, large, white organic loaf, thickly sliced
3lbs of mixed red summer berries, the juicier the better
[ie: I used a mix of raspberries, cherries, blueberries strawberries, boysenberries and blackberries this time. If you can get hold of redcurrants be sure to include some.]
1 cup of sugar
Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- Wash and pick over the fruit removing any stalks, leaves bad berries and cherry stones (if you are using cherries).
- Butter the inside of a 3 pint pudding basin.
- Remove crusts from the sliced bread.
- Line the pudding basin with the bread slices, slightly overlapping each slice so there are no gaps in between them. Press the edges together so the bread forms a complete mold inside the bowl.
- In a non-reactive pan, bring the mixed berries, lemon zest and sugar to a gentle simmer, until the sugar is dissolved and the fruits are releasing their juice. This should only take about 5 minutes. You want the fruit to keep it's shape. Take care not to overcook them.
- Reserve about 3/4 cup of juice and put it to one side to cool. Refrigerate.
- Pour the rest of the fruit and juice into the bread-lined pudding basin.
- Seal the top completely with further, overlapping, slices of bread.
- Cover the bread with a small flat plate or saucer that fits snugly inside the basin.
- Weigh down the plate with at least 3lbs of weights or a very heavy can or jar.
- Leave in the fridge overnight. The weight will cause the juice to bleed through the bread staining it red.
- Before serving, gently slide a flexible spatula between the bread and the basin to loosen.
- Invert the bowl onto a serving plate, the pudding should slide easily into place.
- Use the reserved juice to colour any areas that still have a white tinge. Pour any remaining juice over the top of the pudding.
- Cut into wedges to serve and pair with fresh whipped cream or creme fraiche.
On paper, this recipe might sound a little odd. Soggy bread is not usually something that starts the salivation process, at least not for me. But believe me, the results are dramatically successful as can be attested by the number of times I verbally was asked to explain the recipe at the party. Famously, Fred "is not a sweet guy", but he kept on telling me how much he liked this particular dessert, and he's not an easy one to please. If you are brave enough to give it a try, I just know you will enjoy it too...
Links, Resources and Further Reading
Summer Pudding by Delia Smith in England and David Lebovitz in Paris.
Redcurrant Bakewell tarts by Keiko from Nordljus
Bread and Fruit from The Marin Civic Center Thursday Farmers Market
My lovely market Companions - Catherine - Cookiecrumb - Cranky
The even lovelier guy who drove from the City to Marin to save me when I locked my car keys in the trunk at the farmers market [it was about 90F up there, phew].
Hugest thanks to the party hosts who did an amazing, amazing job. Check out The Movie Mouse, a children's book which KO just illustrated.
|Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: The Five Cookbook Meme|
|And about this time in 2004: Tse, Paris|
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