Summer pudding

Serves 6-8
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Indy Lifestyle Online

This quintessential English dessert is easy to make and benefits from a little time in the fridge to allow it to firm up and make it easier to take from the mould. It should not, to my mind, be too sweet, but rather slightly sharp just at the end; that way it is more palette-cleansing and less cloying than other desserts.

The proportions of the fruits used don't really matter: what is important is the selection. You need a mix of tart and sweet – so red or blackcurrants are a must, as are raspberries and blackberries. I like to add strawberries too.

8-10 slices of good-quality bread such as pain de mie (a soft traditional white bread enriched with butter and sugar). Don't use a shop-bought sliced white bread; it tastes no better than sodden cotton wool
1kg/2lb berries, any selection will do
220g/71/2oz caster sugar

To serve

Pouring cream

Remove the crusts from the bread and cut it into 1/4-inch thick slices, then into 2-inch fingers. Line the base and sides of an eight-inch pudding bowl.

Hull and quarter the strawberries – if using – and pick over the other berries, then place into a bowl. Add the sugar and toss lightly to combine.

Now put the berries into a heavy-based non-reactive saucepan and place over a medium heat. Warm the berries until they soften and become juicy and the sugar has dissolved.

Spoon the berries into the lined pudding basin while they are still warm and place a final, whole piece of bread on top to create, in effect, a lid, patching here and there with smaller pieces to ensure that there are no spaces. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Place a plate on top to help weigh down the fruit and place in the fridge for two hours to allow the pectin to set and the pudding to firm.

To serve, invert the pudding on to a plate. It should unmould very easily. Serve as it is – this blood-red dome looks most beguiling brought to the table – and pass around a jug of pouring cream.

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