Friday 27 January 2006

sum·mer pud·ding

Summer pudding is a traditional English dessert. We used to have it so many times all through summer, probably to use up the berries we had picked from the hedgerows. Both of those points almost certainly explain why I haven't eaten it for years and have never made it myself. But for some reason it came to mind as the perfect dish for Sugar High Friday which for this month is as hosted by Sam of Becks & Posh.

Summer pudding is like a big round fresh delicious jam sandwich. A bread shell encasing a berry filling. It is a simple dish made of two primary ingredients - berries and bread - and like any dish so simple attention needs to be paid to the selection of these ingredients.

It is also a healthy pudding. There is no rich or stodgy pastry or creamy heavy fillings.

The berries are best to be sweet and ripe and juicy. Before they are committed to their bread-y cave they need to be tested for deliciousness - would you eat these berries as they are? At a push good frozen berries could be used.

The bread needs to be sturdy but not too dense. And white. This is not the place for whole-meal or whole-grain. A home-made white loaf is perfect. It needs to absorb the juice but not fall apart.

I make summer pudding like this :

Choose the basin or bowl in which you are going to make the pudding. A traditional shaped pudding basin is good. Since I didn't want to make too much I used a deep cereal bowl.
Put aside to become day-old as many generous slices of bread as you estimate it will take to fully line and top the basin, plus one slice.
Select a mixture of berries, the traditional mix is raspberries and redcurrants, but blackcurrants are often included. I used raspberries, blackcurrants and boysenberries. You need more than will fit in the basin. Be generous, they will not go to waste!
If your berries taste as if they could use some sugar then sprinkle them with as much as necessary - possibly not any (especially when low sugar is the name of the game!). Leave the berries overnight to macerate. This is not necessary if no sugar has been added.
When you are ready to form the pudding, tip the berries into a pot with a tablespoon of water and bring to the boil and simmer for a minute or until the berries start to burst and the juice begins to run. Remove from the heat.
Cut the crusts from the bread slices. Cut a circle from one slice of bread for the bottom of the basin and use the other slices to firmly line the sides. Push the slices together firmly, patching any gaps so the fruit will not escape.
Pour half the berries and juice into the basin, add a slice of bread, and then the rest of the berries and juice. Save any juice that will not fit to pour over any non-sodden bits of bread at the end. Finish with a bread lid.
Put a flat plate or saucer and a weight on top and put in the fridge overnight, or for up to two days. Cover the basin with plastic wrap under the weight if you like.
When it is time to serve the pudding, slide a flat knife carefully around the basin and turn out onto a plate. Pour the reserved juices on any bits of bread that are still white. Serve in slices with cream, or yoghurt, if you like - but I like it plain. For such a simple and healthy pudding it is fairly rich!


Sam said...

Because I am English - as you can imagine - summer pudding is popular with me, I have made it quite a few times. Of course I am jealous f your being in the Southern hemisphere with all that summer fruit in season. We mainly just have pears, citrus and apples right now.

No worries, I'll come back to taunt you in a few months!

Thank you so much for taking part in SHF


Elise said...

I've never heard of summer pudding, what a great idea! Will have to wait till our summer to try it, though. Thanks for posting!

Emma said...

Hi Sam - Mmmmmm summer stone fruit - it is the best. But there is nothing to beat a winter fruit pudding - crumbles, crisps, and pies. Please do taunt - nothing like planning ahead!
And SHF - my pleasure.
Hi Elise - Do try it! It is simple and fabulous!