Summer Berry Pudding

I didn’t know what I to expect going into this and wasn’t sure we’d really like it since we’re not huge bread pudding fans in the first place; but “Summer Pudding” had been recommended by so many people of late that I decided to give it a shot.

Summer Pudding

My first (perceived) problem was finding the right size bowl. I didn’t have a 2 quart bowl and ended up using one that was about 1.6 oz. in the end, this was no big deal, but I did have berry mixture leftover for another use.   The lesson learned was that I didn’t have to obsess over the bowl size.  Here’s a picture of the bowl I lined with plastic wrap and some of the bread.  I didn’t butter the bowl or spray it with anything.

bowl lined with bread

After buying all the ingredients, I noticed a lot of Summer Berry Pudding fans recommended using fresh, sturdy, “homestyle” white bread. I’d already bought regular soft white loaf bread which was pictured in a Food TV magazine recipe, so I had to proceed with that. Lesson 2 – Next time I’ll use a firmer bread.  The grocery store bread was a little mushy.

Choosing what kind of berries to use was also an issue. Traditionally this pudding contains currants, but I had no idea where to find currants in Austin, TX. David Lebovitz has a recipe for Summer Pudding where he recommends using currant jelly. Next time I might try that, but this time I decided to liven up the berries with honey and lemon.  That was one of my better choices.


The third lesson was that Summer Berry Pudding is really fun to prepare. Something about lining a bowl with bread is relaxing, plus it’s kind of neat watching everything come together to make this garishly pretty (?) dessert. I could hardly wait to flip it out of the pan.

Here’s how it looked when I flipped it. Uh oh. I’d never seen any photos of Summer Pudding where the bread wasn’t completely soaked. I’d used plenty of juice, so this was odd…

Summer Pudding

…no worries, though. I just poured some of the remaining berry mixture over the top and it fixed everything.

Summer Pudding

In the end, the whole family found this dessert amusing. Fuzz and I took one bite, but opted to skip a full serving and just have ice cream. But Todd enjoyed it, which means I’ll be making it again. Next time I’ll be more confident going into it, will use a stiffer brand of white bread (Richard Sax recommends Pepperidge Farm in Classic Home Desserts) and I will make a mini version by scaling the proportions below and using a cereal bowl.

Below is the recipe I used and I hope the info above helps. If you want to use a recipe by someone with more Summer Pudding making experience, Louise swears by David Lebovitz’s Summer Pudding.

Another recipe you might want to try is the one from the current Food TV magazine, which includes honey and lemon and which is what I modeled this one after. Just  be careful when you pick your “sliced white sandwich bread” and ignore their photo of what appears to be Wonder Bread.

Summer Berry Pudding

8 cups mixed berries (I used mostly blackberries)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pound loaf of white bread, crusts removed

In a non-reactive saucepan, combine 4 cups of berries with the sugar, honey, lemon zest and juice and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered until the berries burst — about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining berries. Let cool.

Line a 2 quart bowl with plastic wrap. Trim of the bread crusts, slice bread slices into triangles, then line the bottom and sides of the dish with a single layer of bread, trimming the slices to fit.

Spoon half of the berries and juice into the dish. Cover twith a single layer of bread slices. Top with remaining berries and finish with another layer of bread to completely seal the pudding. Pour remaining juices over the top layer and cover with plastic wrap. Set a plate on top to weigh down the fruit, then refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.

Invert onto a serving dish.  Carefully peel away wrap.  Serve with whipped cream.

Serves about 6

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  1. says

    You were brave to try this if you’re not a bread pudding fan! I’m not either, so I doubt I’ll go there. I’m glad Todd liked it!

  2. Debbi says

    Alton Brown made something similar this week on Good Eats. He cut rounds of bread and layered them with berries in a clean can, then used an unopened can of soda to weight the concoction while it sat for a while in the fridge. It was about the only thing I can remember him making that looks truly unappetizing!

  3. says

    Debbi, I’ll have to check out Alton Brown’s version. Like I said, I’d make another small batch version for my husband, but this just wasn’t for me.

  4. Louise says

    For the record, this should not be anything like bread pudding. Not the texture and certainly not the taste. It’s all about the berries and the bread just holds it together.

  5. says

    My first thought was that it was like a standing blackberry cobbler. It tasted like cobbler and the bread (sort of) reminded me of the dough part of cobbler. So I coudl definitely taste the bread and it did remind me of bread pudding. I think I would have liked it better if I’d used a heavier bread.

  6. Karen says

    I have always been curious about this dessert but never tried it because I thought it would taste like soggy bread and there are so many other more appealing recipes out there for fresh berries.
    Seems like I was right!

  7. says

    I love using fresh fruit in desserts this time of year. But all of the bread pudding recipes I’m familiar with soak the bread in custard sauce that offsets the sponginess of the bread. Kind of like French Toast in a way. I’ve never seen a fat free bread pudding with just bread and fruit. I think I would have opted for the ice cream too. Or maybe a dollop on the bread pudding might have pulled it together?

  8. says

    Anna, I have a very similar recipe in one of my “old” cookbooks. I was intrigued by the photo and was tempted to make it. With all the heat we’ve been having, a cool berry dessert sounds refreshing! I think it’s actually an old fashioned dessert and was originally made perhaps to use up stale bread and an abundance of summer fruits!

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