Summer pudding, packed with juicy fresh berries, is one of my all time favorite desserts of the summer. This pudding looks spectacular when plated, giving the impression it’s a pretty complicated recipe, but making this classically English dessert is so much easier than it looks. It’s so easy in fact, I think it’s a perfect recipe for beginners.
The red and blue fruits of this pudding are perfectly highlighted by white serving cream, making this a perfect dessert for 4th of July celebrations. So today I plan to make summer pudding converts of all my American readers.
When in Ireland I make this pudding using strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, and red currants. In a previous post I revealed my love of blackcurrants and my disappointment upon finding they are actually illegal to grow in some parts of America. Once I discovered currants are not grown in all states, and therefore not readily available, I substituted blueberries for the red and black currants in my summer pudding recipe.
And always remember, if you can’t get your hands on enough fresh fruit, this pudding is just as delicious when made using frozen fruit. If you don’t have a pudding bowl you can make it in a loaf tin – no need to be fussy. Individual ramekins look really attractive too.
This pudding looks very impressive, and can be made ahead, so it’s a really a great dinner party dessert. I often imagine the gentry of Downton Abbey enjoying a little summer pudding in July.
And so here’s my recipe…..
- 16 oz fresh strawberries (2/3 of a container for the pudding and the remainder to garnish)
- 6 oz fresh blackberries
- 12 oz fresh raspberries
- 4 oz fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 10 medium slices white bread (day old bread is best)
The first step involves bringing out the juices from the fruits. Add the sugar and water to a large saucepan over gentle heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and allow the syrup to simmer for 1 minute.
Add the raspberries, blackberries and blueberries to the syrup and reduce the heat to low. Some summer pudding cooks like to heat the strawberries too, but I find they turn too mushy when simmered. I recommend not cooking the strawberries.
Cook the fruit for 3 minutes, stirring the mixture gently a few times, being careful not to break up the fruit. Shaking the saucepan works well to prevent sticking, but you do need to stir a little to cover the fruit in sugar syrup to draw out the juices.
Remove the fruit from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Strain the fruit using a sieve over a large bowl.
The next step involves preparing the bread to line the sides of the pudding bowl. I use a 1.5 quart pudding bowl for this recipe. I find a country white bread is best, but you can use whole wheat bread or brioche.
- First remove the crusts from all the slices of bread.
- The sides require 4 slices of bread cut in half on a slight diagonal.
- 3 circles of bread are required for the bottom of the bowl, the middle of the pudding and to cover the base.
- Use the bowl to cut a circle the size of the small end of the bowl from one slice of bread.
- Place 2 slices of bread side by side, and use a saucer to cut two semi-circles. This will be the circle for the middle of the pudding.
- Place 2 slices of bread side by side with another one perpendicular, and cut a circle the size of the large open end of the bowl.
Use 2 x 20 inch sheets of plastic film to line a 1.5 quart pudding bowl, allowing the excess film to hang over the sides of the bowl. I find it’s easier to use two pieces of plastic wrap rather than trying to get one large piece to fit into the bowl. Without the plastic wrap the pudding may end up sticking to the basin. Nobody wants a messy heap on plate when serving. I like to
soak dip the bread pieces in the juices as I assemble the pudding. It prevents white patches of bread with no juice in the finished pudding.
Note: A reader let me know his finished pudding would not hold its shape, even when chilled overnight. He may have oversoaked the bread pieces. The goal of dipping the bread pieces is to color them red, so only dip them long enough to get an even color on the outer surface of each piece. Saturating the bread will result in a wobbly pudding.
- First, take the smallest circle of bread and dip it into the fruit juices to coat it. Place it at the very bottom of the pudding bowl.
- Next dip the triangular side pieces into the juice. Line the sides of the bowl by slightly overlapping the bread pieces.
- Add the sliced strawberries to the fruit mixture.
- Spoon one third of the fruit into the bowl.
- Dip the smaller two semi-circular bread pieces into the fruit juice. Place them over the first layer of fruit.
- Add the remainder of the fruit to the pudding bowl.
- Soak the larger semi-circles of bread in the juice and place them over the fruit in the bowl.
- Bring the cling film up and over the bottom of the pudding.
- Place a smaller plate or saucer on top of the pudding and weigh it down with cans. Sometimes I just place another bowl filled with water on top.
- Chill in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.
- To remove the pudding for serving, open out the saran wrap.
- Place a serving plate upside-down on top and flip the pudding over.
- Remove the saran wrap.
- Decorate with left over strawberries or any other fruit.
I hope you enjoy this pudding as much as I do – it truly is a taste of summer.
Here is the printable recipe:
Slán agus beannacht leat!
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom