English Summer Pudding is really a misnomer if you’re from the States, as it isn’t what Americans think of as pudding at all. To the British, the term pudding seems to cover everything from steamed savory dishes to molded cakes. This “summer pudding” is a classic English dessert made with the available berries of the season inside of a soft white bread mold. It’s also deceptively easy to make, even though it looks like one of those elaborate desserts for special occasions (**NOTE: you do need to let it sit overnight).
Pairing Summer Pudding with British Humor
I made this 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 at least, and it’s now a standard summer dessert here in Minnesota during berry season.
Which Berries Should be Used?
Not all berries ripen at the same time of year, so you’ll have to go with your favorites that are fresh at the farmers’ markets.
Alternatively, use frozen blueberries, raspberries or blackberries and go with fresh currents. Blueberries and blackberries freeze really well and will keep their shape better than other berries.
Frozen raspberries work well because some of their juice is released and that provides more juice to soak up into the bread.
Red currants are a classic and if you can find them, definitely use them. They add a really nice “tang”.
Does the Pudding Need Syrup?
No, the pudding does not need a syrup and it is excellent without one. I like to use simple syrups on desserts, as they intensify the fruity flavor. With this recipe I used a blueberry syrup infused with lavender.
You can make your own Blueberry Syrup with this recipe or purchase a blueberry flavored simple syrup.
English Summer Pudding with Berries & Currents
- large bowl with plate for pressing The plate needs to fit down inside the bowl to apply a bit of pressure to the pudding as it chills
- large dinner plate
- 14-15 ounce cans to use as weights
- 2 ½ cups raspberries
- 1 ½ cup blackberries
- 1 ½ cups blueberries can substitute currents
- 1 ½ Tbsp Chambord liqueur
- ¾ cup 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 Syrup to pour over top optional
- mixed fresh berries for garnish optional
- whipped cream optional (alternatively use ice cream)
- 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.2 1/2 cups raspberries, 1 1/2 cup blackberries, 1 1/2 cups blueberries, 1 1/2 Tbsp Chambord liqueur, 3/4 cup sugar
- Using a sharp knife, trim the crusts from the bread, keeping slices as large as possible. Cut the bread into diagonal halves.12 slices firm white sandwich bread
- 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 bowl with the bread, puzzle-like, into the bottom and up the sides of the bowl. Make sure the bread slices fit right next to each other snugly, leaving no gaps.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer half the berries to the bread-lined bowl, spreading them out evenly. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp sugar over the berries, and then cover fruit with 2 pieces of the 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 triangles of bread, leaving no gaps. Reserve any remaining juice from the fruit and set aside.
- When the top layer of fruit is covered with bread, pull the overhanging plastic wrap over the top and place a plate over the top, so that the plate is flush with the bread. Add 2 heavy cans or a 2-pound weight to the plate and let sit at least 8 hours, or overnight, refrigerated. The idea is to place a total of 2-4 lbs weight on the pudding to help it turn into a mold.
- To serve, remove the weight and unfold the plastic wrap that covered the top and let it hang over the sides. Place a large dinner plate upside down over the top of the pudding bowl and tun the bowl upside down onto the plate. Gently lift the bowl off of the bread mold, then peel off the plastic wrap.
- To serve, use a sharp knife to cut the pudding into slices. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla yogurt or ice cream. Garnish with Blueberry Lavender Syrup, fresh berries and mint if desired.Blueberry Syrup to pour over top, mixed fresh berries for garnish, whipped cream