Wednesday, 8 June 2011

English summer pudding

This is an English tradition that was taught to me shortly after I arrived in the UK, by my friend Joan (she of the overnight salad fame here and here). I heard people talking about 'summer pudding' and assumed that it was a generic term for a dessert suitable for the summer time. Joan disabused me, even though she doesn't eat the dessert herself because she can't abide the thought of 'wet bread'.

750g (or just loads) of summer berries (fresh or frozen)
125ml water
White bread, slightly stale, sliced and crusts removed
Caster sugar (or alternative sweetener)

  • Wash your berries (if using fresh) and bung them all in a saucepan with the water over a low heat. Smoosh them just a little to release a bit of juice, but not a lot - you still want whole berries.
  • Sweeten to taste with the sugar (or alternative).
  • Drain the fruit, but don't dispose of the juice just yet.
  • Line a pudding bowl with clingfilm - this is profanity inducing, but I find it necessary.
  • Dip a slice of bread into the juice and then use it to line the bottom of the bowl. Repeat with further slices, lining the entire bowl, leaving no gaps.
  • Spoon in the fruit. The bowl should be full when you're done.
  • Add just a little of the juice, and then cover the whole thing with more soaked bread.
  • Cover the pudding with a side plate (concave side up) and place a can of baked beans (or something) on top to weigh it down.
  • Leave in a cool place for at least 24 hours.
  • Remove the side plate, and turn the pudding out on a serving plate (see note below).
  • Serve with creme fraiche, fromage frais or (if you must) clotted cream.
Turning out a dessert is easier than you might think. Place the serving plate over the the bowl and, holding it in place with both hands, flip the whole thing over. Gently and slowly remove the pudding bowl and peel away the clingfilm. If you don't use clingfilm, you may find that the pudding sticks a little and the bread tears a bit as you lift away the bowl. It will still taste just as good, so never fear, but presentation may be impacted. Not a problem if it's just the family, of course! Mine would neither notice nor care.

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