The quintessential English pudding for, er, summertime. The summer pudding is one of my favourite desserts; I’d never made one before, but had eaten many. It is my favourite because it contains a massive load of summer berries, in particular, raspberries. For those of you that don’t know, a summer pudding contains lightly stewed summer berries encased in slightly stale bread. The ‘soggy’ bread seems to put many people off, but it doesn’t even seem like bread. Trust me. Apparently, the summer pudding arose in care homes of yore because many invalids couldn’t stomach the rich and heavy pastry or suet puddings.
Make this pudding whilst there is a glut of summer berries that are in season and therefore won’t cost a fortune. (The original recipe is for a huge one that serves eight to ten people, but I halved all the ingredients).
Place a pound of summer berries in a bowl with 4 ounces of caster sugar. Grigson says to use blackcurrants, or a mixture of raspberries, redcurrants and blackberries. The truth is, you can use whatever you want – chopped strawberries are a common addition, for example. Stir, cover and leave overnight. Add the fruit and the juices to a saucepan and bring to a boil and simmer for two minutes to lightly cook the fruit. Next, prepare the pudding basin – you’ll need a 2 ½ pint one for this amount of fruit. Cut a circle of slightly stale white bread for the bottom of the bowl, and then cut wide strips for the edges which should overlap as you place them inside the mould to produce a strong wall with no leaks – make sure you remove the crusts!. Once they are all arranged, pour in half the berry mixture, then add a slice of bread, then the rest of the mixture. Cut more bread make a lid and then fold over or trim any surplus bits. Put a plate on top and weight it down with a couple of food cans and place in the fridge overnight. Turn the pudding out onto a plate and serve with plenty of cream. (Grigson suggests making some extra berry sauce to cover any bread that has not become soaked, though you can get around this by dipping te bread in the berry juices before you place them in the pudding basin.)
#173 Summer Pudding – 9.5/10. It is jostling with Sussex Pond Pudding for first place in the pudding stakes for me. What is there not to like about a big load of tart berries and a dollop of cream? Anyone squeamish about the soggy bread really needn’t be – it is an English classic and everyone should try it (if not this one, then the Sussex Pond Pudding!).