English Summer Pudding is really a misnomer if you’re from the States, as it isn’t what we think of as pudding at all. To the British, the term pudding seems to cover everything from steamed savory dishes to molded cakes like this one.
It’s also deceptively easy to make, even though it looks like one of those elaborate desserts for special occasions (warning: you do need to let it sit overnight).
I made this several (many) years ago when I was trying out “themed movie nights” for the kids. My thought was to rent a classic genre movie once a week and prepare food that might then be associated with each movie. The Summer Pudding went with the comedy genre and the movie I rented was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. While the summer pudding was great, the movie was just not funny at all to my then-young children. It was one of those “what were you thinking, mom?” kind of deals. British and subtle humor were completely lost on my 10-year old son and 12-year old daughter.
Ah well, the summer pudding was memorable to me at least, and I wanted to try it again while I still had the currants and berries available this summer. Since I love those themes, I thought the Olympics in London would be a good time to bring this recipe out again. Here is the recipe I used, with a few adaptations:
English Summer Pudding (adapted from Nicole Routhier’s Fruit Cookbook)
- 2 1/2 cups raspberries (frozen work almost better because they offer more juice to soak into the bread)
- 1 1/2 cup blackberries
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries and/or currants
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Chambord liqueur (can also use Grand Marnier)
- 1/2 cup plus 4 Tbsp sugar (may need more or less depending on tartness of berries)
- 12 slices firm white sandwich bread (Brioche is nice, Pepperidge Farm works well)
- Blueberry Lavender Syrup to pour over top (optional)
- mixed fresh berries for garnish (optional)
- whipped cream with vanilla or ice cream for serving
- Combine the berries, Chambord, and 1/2 cup of sugar in medium-size saucepan and place over low heat. Cook until sugar has just melted to form a light syrup and the berries are barely warm, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
- Using a sharp knife, trim the crusts from the bread, keeping slices as large as possible. Cut 6 of the slices lengthwise in half. Set all of the bread aside.
- Line a medium size bowl (about 1 1/2-quart) with plastic wrap, allowing generous overhang on sides. Smooth plastic on the bottom, and around the sides of bowl.
- Line the bottom of the bowl with 2 1/2 slices of bread so that they fit right next to each other snugly. Line sides of bowl with additional halved bread slices snugly, leaving no gaps.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer half the berries to the bread-lined pan, spreading them out evenly. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp sugar over the berries, and then cover fruit with 2 1/2 slices of bread. Spoon remaining berries over the bread, then sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Pack the fruits so they are level with top of bread lining and cover berries with remaining 2 1/2 slices of bread. Drizzle remaining berry syrup evenly over bread. If there is no leftover syrup, drizzle some of the Blueberry Lavender Syrup over bread, so that juices will soak into bread.
- Fold overhanging plastic over the pudding to cover. Place weights on top of the pudding; I used three 28 oz. cans of tomato sauce, but use whatever you have. The idea is to place a total of 2-4 lbs weight on the pudding to help it turn into a mold.. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight
- Remove the weight and unfold the plastic wrap. Place a plate upside down over the pudding and invert the pan onto the plate. Gently lift off the bowl, then peel off the plastic wrap. Garnish with Blueberry Lavender Syrup, fresh berries and mint if desired.
- To serve, use a sharp knife to cut the pudding into slices. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla yogurt or ice cream.
Long directions, I know, but it is really not a difficult, time-consuming recipe. Unfortunately, I did not take photos as I went, so I can’t show you the layering of the bread. Next time I’ll remember to do this.
Enjoy the Olympics, and choose your comedies wisely. Not everyone thinks Monty Python humor is the best.