Ah! This green and pleasant land. There is nowhere more beautiful than England on a sunny day. We have been really lucky this time in the UK with the weather as there have been many sunny days. In fact, as I write, we are experiencing a heat wave. Couple that with the fact that summer berries are available to make Mark’s absolute favourite dessert of all time and… well…life is good!
When I first moved to the UK many moons ago, one of the things I really wanted to do, as I had no idea in what manner berries grew, was to go berry picking. My mother in law took delight in taking me and we picked punnet after punnet of all sorts. For my non English readers, a “punnet” is the little basket or plastic container fruit is sold in. She later showed me how to lay the raspberries out on a tray to freeze them individually making for berries through the year.
I took delight in seeing what an actual blackcurrant was as my only experience had been the famous black currant drink which starts with an “R!” I loved the way a raspberry pulls off the stem leaving behind its little “docking station” requiring no more effort from the picker than to plop into their mouth.
If you have never made or eaten this dessert, I encourage you to do so as although it does include pagan slices of white bread and a bit of sugar (what?!! eek!!), it is packed full of the essential essence of summer and all those lovely vitamins that come from colourful fruit. What I have discovered through the years, is that you can use pretty much whatever combination of berries you can find once they include the tart sort like currants and raspberries and some of the sweeter sort like blueberries and maybe even a few strawberries. Just try to keep the ratio similar and you’ll be fine.
Currants pack a mighty punch and some can actually make you pucker up when you pop them in your mouth sneakily while pulling them off the stem. Ideally I like to include black currants as well in my summer pudding but there were none available as its still quite early in the season. I think you’ll agree that the photo below is not wanting in the sheer beauty of what I did in fact find.
Summer Pudding –
This Recipe makes enough to feed 6 to 8 people
280g (10 oz) blueberries
340g (12 oz) blackberries
200g (7 oz) red currants
300g (10 oz) raspberries
110g (4 oz) caster sugar
9/10 slices white bread crusts removed
Despite the gorgeousness of this pudding recipe, I’m happy to say that it is really quick and easy to make.
After you have removed any stems and there remains just the gorgeous berries, heat them with the sugar until they begin to “bleed.” Don’t be tempted to bring them to the boil to extract every last ounce. All you need is the generous juice they yield in quite quick time. You don’t want them to have a “cooked” taste either. While the berries are cooling off slightly, get on with lining the pudding basin.
You will need a pudding basin large enough to accommodate the berries, with the crustless bread. Try to make sure there are no gaps but not so that your layer of bread is over thick. My pudding basin is bright pink as you can see and holds about 1.5 litres (nearly 2 pints).
Pour everything in but reserve a small amount of the juice for patching up blanks spots on the outside later.
Cover up the opening with another slice of bread and fold over the edges from the vertical pieces of bread. Place a saucer or plate small enough to fit right onto the pudding and weigh it down as best you can. I used 3 full cans lying on their sides on the saucer.
Place in the fridge overnight ideally or for at least 3 or 4 hours. When you are ready to serve, remove the weights and saucer and gently prize the edges of the pudding away from the sides of the basin. More like a loosening of the suction than like freeing a cake from its pan. Put the low sided bowl you serve it in over the top (see first photo) and invert the whole thing listening out for the soft plop once the pudding frees itself and lands beautifully intact into your serving dish. If there are any patches of the bread that have not been totally dyed red, this is the time to pour on the little juice that you reserved earlier. Just pour it on anyway if no artwork is necessary.
Summer pudding is traditionally served with double cream.