Monday, July 17, 2006

A Recipe for Summer Pudding

English Food doesn't always suck:
The proof is in the pudding!

how to make English Summer Pudding with red berries including recipe
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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A Recipe for Summer Pudding


  • At 17/7/06 04:34, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You've inspired me to give this a go as I have never made it, not sure i've even tasted it! Beccy

  • At 17/7/06 05:11, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    That has to be one of the best titles of all time :)

  • At 17/7/06 05:21, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Summer Pudding is one of the best things ever -- and your picture is gorgeous!

  • At 17/7/06 06:02, Blogger virtuallyeric said…

    I've always wondered how these summer puddings taste. I've seen tomato puddings done in the same way and just can't wrap my head round it. Perhaps I'll have to try it anyway.... Looks fabulous!

  • At 17/7/06 06:18, Blogger Alanna Kellogg said…

    I love your English posts! This one's especially interesting ... all those berries. There were red currants at the St Paul farmers market last week, have never seen them in St Louis. BTW ... wait til you see today's rhubarb pie! I've made it three times in two weeks!

  • At 17/7/06 07:13, Blogger *fanny* said…

    Lovely lovely lovely.
    I love british food and i do think it doesn't have the reputation it deserves.
    Anyway, do you think it would work if using brioche instead of bread?


  • At 17/7/06 10:53, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    First time I saw a summer pudding was on an episode of Two Fat Ladies.
    Yours is far lovelier.

  • At 17/7/06 11:01, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Absolutely lovely. Would very much have to try this cake!! British berry puddings are the best!

  • At 17/7/06 11:28, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One of my favorite desserts!

  • At 17/7/06 12:13, Blogger Debi said…

    Sounds Yummy! I gave you a link on my Blogathon Blogroll!

  • At 17/7/06 14:00, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    oooo... yummy

  • At 17/7/06 14:18, Blogger Catherine said…

    English food least, that lovely summer pudding does!

  • At 17/7/06 19:43, Blogger the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said…

    Creme fraiche or whipped cream? You mean double cream or clotted cream surely?
    licking the spoon,

  • At 18/7/06 07:47, Blogger The Dog of Freetown said…

    Fish and chips, Yorkshire pudding, rhubarb crumble and custard. This is a list of the only English food that doesn't suck. Everything else we stole.

  • At 18/7/06 23:44, Blogger Sam said…

    Beccy - dont forget to send me the recipe for Gateau Diane!

    wmm - glad you like it,i dont think its the most clever things ever but it works!

    eg - I agree though i was a bit disappointed with my pic cos the pudding is a bit dark, but I didnt have time for any fancy lighting or anything

    eric - I assure you it tastes much greater than you could possibly imagine cos to be honest it sounds a bit wierd doesnt it?

    Ak - my rhubarb is still in the fridge since I am undecided about what to do with it

    fanny - i am sure the brioche would work as long as it is quite dense and not too airy and dry.

    CC - thos are marin FM berries, of course!

    bea - i am glad that British cooking has so many French fans!

    Anon - I can see why - its so important to make them in the summer whilst we have such great produce.

    Debi - thank YOU! I will be checking out your site

    l - yummy indeed

    catherine - that and more, you know it!

    chocolate lady - I wish! But to be fair, I think the creme fraiche works really well with this dessert.
    the creme fraiche we use (cowgirl) at least as a similar texture to rnglish double cream. the pasteurized version you can buy here is too thick.

    kieran - sweeping statement?

  • At 19/7/06 07:44, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've often thought about making summer pudding, ever since I first read about it in Elizabeth David (Summer Cooking, I think) -- but I've never done it. Now you've reinspired me -- especially since in the Northeast, we have TONS of red currants in the farmers' markets. I'm also thinking of raspberry-red currant preserve, which I adore...

  • At 19/7/06 09:53, Blogger Helen said…

    Hi Sam!

    Thanks for reminding me about my favorite summer dessert. It's on my list for this weekend :)


  • At 19/7/06 22:47, Blogger Joycelyn said…

    hi sam, beautiful summer pud! did you manage to get hold of redcurrants? there're none to be found here. hmm, maybe it's time to take action and grow one's own like keiko has...first, however, i'll have to grow a green thumb...

  • At 21/7/06 12:57, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Seems a lot of food bloggers are talking about Summer Pudding. Yours looks great -- and also check out -- she doesn't go for the blueberries, but is just as tickled by the way you make it. Yummy!

  • At 23/7/06 10:36, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your summer pudding looks perfect! I almost mistook it for a Christmas pudding, but then I realized it was be-decked with summer fruits. It is making me long for one just like it right now.

  • At 24/7/06 02:49, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam, I've never had summer pudding before - I must try it if it's approved by Fred though ;) Thanks for the recipe, it looks beautiful.

  • At 24/7/06 13:21, Blogger Sam said…

    Julie - you should definitely try it - a simple dessert wit very satisfying results

    Helen - I hope it turned out good!

    J - I did this particular one without the redcurrants. I got wind of some places that were selling them, but didn't fancy driving several miles to get them. Since I was at the market anyway I just got a delection of all the best red juicy fruits instead.

    Lynda - thanks - I don't think it is my best since the pudding is a bit dark. But i liked the overall setting on the windowsill of my friend's house.

    Toni - thanks for the link to syllabub - its great to find a new blog - and what a great post she did!

    risinsunofnihon - make one - I am sure you can do it!

    Keiko - I am certain if you make one it will be stunning - i think you should try - I can just imagine it being your 'cuppa tea'

  • At 24/9/07 12:53, Blogger Little Britainer said…

    Hi--I'm really enjoying your blog, I actually found it by googling recipes for summer pudding. I'm English and currently live in NY. I work right by the farmers' market in Union Square, so picked up a load of fresh raspberries and blackberries and planned to make the pudding. Had some trouble to find bread I thought would work--I find bread here pretty sugary. I found red currants at a small supermarket called Garden of Eden (in case you're ever looking when in NY). When I put it together I realised it was twice as big as any summer pudding I'd ever seen before, but it was really great. Thanks for the recipe!

  • At 15/6/08 16:56, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've just returned to the
    States after living in the U.K. for twenty some years. I've never made a summer pudding even though I have enjoyed them throughout the years I spent there. Funnily enough I just got a craving and this recipe was the result of my recipe search. I can't wait to try it, although I'll wait a few weeks for the local strawberry/raspberry/cherry crops to ripen. I live in the UP of Michigan so our season is a bit later than most. I can't wait to try the recipe. Thanks!


  • At 29/6/08 13:40, Blogger Dr Karen said…

    Greetings from Denver! I was just watching a wonderful Indy/British film and they were talking about "Summer Pudding." When I googled it, this came up - I know I am about 2 years late...I have a question. I have Celiac - and have to eat wheat/gluten free bread. I was wondering (and I won't hold you to this) do you think I could use a sliced white gf white bread? They do tend to be a bit dry, but I could make the bread by hand (or, by machine) and it would be much softer...any thoughts? If you wouldn't mind emailing any thoughts, I would be most appreciative - so glad to have found this blog (adore the UK, adore France)! Thank you in advance for any thoughts!

  • At 29/6/08 13:44, Blogger Sam said…

    Hi Dr Karen - I really don't have any experience of gluten free bread but I see no reason why it couldn't be used. The beauty of this recipe is that the bread soaks up and is made moist by the copious amount of berry juicy, until it is stained bright red. Make sure you have plently of juice and weigh it down well so the juice permeates the bread. Good luck - I hope the gluten free version is just as delicious,


  • At 4/7/08 04:13, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good Job! :)

  • At 11/7/08 17:20, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have the summer pud soaking in the refridgerator...I loved your simple recipe. its my daughters 2nd birthday tomorrow and I wanted something from home. I am irish and dream about Irish Strawberries and whipped cream ! so this is my next favorite thing. I am sure the babies will all love it !

  • At 11/7/08 17:36, Blogger Sam said…

    I hope it turns out fantastic - how will the kids not like it? And so healthy too!

    Thanks for commenting.


  • At 30/9/08 06:18, Blogger Edony said…

    I have eaten this pudding since I was a small child in England. My mother grew the fruit, mostly raspberries, in the garden and, since there was a war on, we had very little food to eat. This was a treat and my mother used no sugar as that was not available (2oz per person per week). It filled a gap and was delicious. Sometimes this was all we had for tea time (our suppertime). Bread was fairly easy to get so we could have this pudding in the summer when the raspberries were in season.

  • At 15/10/08 18:55, Blogger maybelles mom said…

    I recently made a tomato summer pudding for a Halloween dinner and linked to you. Thanks.


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