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, but Summer Berry Pudding had been recommended by so many people that I decided to give it a shot.
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 smaller. 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.
Firm Bread vs. Soft
After buying all the ingredients, I noticed a lot of Summer Berry Pudding fans recommending the use of 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. Update: Need to try this with Three Rise Bread!!!
Choosing the berries 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 opted for honey and lemon -- one of my better choices.
Fun to Prepare
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 couldn't 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...
...no worries, though. I just poured some of the remaining berry mixture over the top and it fixed everything.
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)
¾ 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