Summer pudding

Did you know that evidence of rain dances can be found in the history of people from the Ancient Egyptians to Native Americans? The ritual developed independently in tribes around the world who thought that if they had a good old jig then it might coax rain to come and water their harvests.

Oh how they would have be enjoying summer this year. A summer of relentless rainfall. A summer only enjoyed by gardeners who live in perpetual fear of hose-pipe bans.

So, I was wondering whether there might be some sort of sun dance instead…but then I thought of something better – a summer pudding.
It’s one of those glorious summer desserts that’s so closely linked with hot, balmy days, I have this sneaky feeling that if you start with a summer pudding, then the weather might just have to change so that it can be eaten in the right conditions.

There is no cooking involved in this recipe – just assembly, so it’s a great pudding for an under-confident chef, and is a sure fire way to wow people with your culinary brilliance.

About 1.2kg summer berries (there are usually supermarket deals on frozen summer berries which make the recipe far cheaper if you’re a frugal chef).
1 loaf of unsliced, white bread (it’s best if it’s a little on the stale side).
175g caster sugar

Put the fruit in a pan with all the sugar, and heat it gently for three minutes or so. The aim of this is not to stew the fruit, but to heat it enough just so the juices are released.

Pour the fruit into a sieve, so the juices are held in a seperate bowl.

Cut the crusts off the bread, slice it. Next, cut up the slices into a few big squares, rectangles and triangles – basically an assortment of shapes that will patch together to line a pudding basin.

Line a pudding basin with cling film, and then start building the pudding. Dip the bread into the juice, and then arrange them round the sides of the dish.

Once the basin has been lined with the fruit-juice-soaked bread, then fill it with the berries. Use up the last bit of the juice and bread to cover the top of the bowl with a lid (which will eventually form the base of the pudding when it’s tipped out).

Put a plate on top of the pudding, and a weight on top so that everything’s squished down and compact, then put the pudding in the fridge for at least six hours – overnight is best.

When it comes to serving, turn out the pudding, and serve with cream or ice cream, or both.


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