Summer Pudding from My Kitchen Wand

Summer Pudding

Summer Pudding is an English recipe I have wanted to try for decades. It is perfect for Lammas as it combines two of the sacred foods of the season, bread and fruit. In Britain, pudding is used as a term to denote all kinds of desserts. It can be, but is not necessarily, a thickened, milk based sweet final course. When choosing a mold for your pudding, try to find a container with depth as the pudding can slouch once taken out of the mold.

Fruit in this case is also about success, be that the first of the plants in a farming community to offer up their bounty or projects in your life started in the past and now coming to fruition. Historically, it would also be a time when the owner of the land being worked would come by to collect his first share of the harvest, the fruit of the land.

Any combination of berries and fruit will work. Right now, here, we have fresh local strawberries and raspberries, cherries from the Okanagan. Additionally, I purchased a small container of imported blackberries. While it is too early for local blueberries and blackberries, as summer moves along, other options to consider are currants, both black and red and cascade berries. I have even seen summer pudding made with a combination of peaches, apricots and nectarines. Maybe not a traditional mix but it certainly opens up the possibility of experimenting.

It doesn’t take a lot of berries to put together a pound. We are a household of two so having bits and pieces of leftovers is far more cost effective than buying all the fruit fresh and then enjoying the leftovers in other ways. A family or group will have no issues with volume and there may be a need to double the recipe.

Summer Pudding from My Kitchen WandYou will need:

1 pound mixed fruits

3/4 cup sugar, caster/superfine/berry if possible

2 Tbsp. water

6-7 slices of a good white bread

Sweetened whipped cream or custard sauce or even ice cream on an especially hot day

fresh fruit as garnish, optionalSummer Pudding from My Kitchen Wand

This has been a tough season for the berries that grow in this valley, so appreciation is a good energy to start this dish. Being grateful for bounties received is a more heart opening expression than focusing on perceived lack. Close your eyes for a moment, take in a deep breath then simply and genuinely say, “thank you”. Invite the compassionate spirits to gather around your hearth and begin.

Wash and hull the strawberries and put aside. They will be added to the cooked mixture later. Wash, pluck the stems and remove the pits of the cherries. Cut in half. Rinse and allow the raspberries and blackberries to air dry.Summer Pudding from My Kitchen WandCombine the water and sugar in a pot over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then add in the fruit, except the strawberries. They will be added later, once the fruits have cooled.

If for any reason the simple syrup gets extra time on the stove before adding the fruit, a couple of extra tablespoons of water will stop the mixture from crystalizing.

The intention here is not to fully cook the fruit. The raspberries especially will start to crumble apart. Stir for one to three minutes and then transfer to a sieve. The juices will be used to moisten the bread.

Summer Pudding from My Kitchen WandLine your mold of choice with plastic wrap. I chose a simple bowl that could contain 3 1/2 cups. The lining will make it much easier to remove and serve later.

Cut the crusts off the white bread. Cut the bread and use as puzzle pieces to fill the mold, making sure to adjust for any open spaces. Remember there will be a need for several pieces to cover the top once the mold is filled with fruit.

I have heard it suggested that pound cake could be a good alternative and in the beginning I thought I would give it a go but I am glad I stuck to the bread. The difference in structure between a bread and a cake would probably mean the cake would disintegrate more easily after being soaked overnight while the bread held together just fine. Additionally, a friend of mine who took home the leftovers, felt the bread was the best part!Summer Pudding from My Kitchen WandBegin to put everything together by painting or quickly dipping the bread pieces in the liquid. The idea is not to soak the bread entirely but to lightly moisten both sides. The bread will become completely saturated as it sits. Keep an eye on the placement of the pieces so that the outside layer of the mold comes together again nicely.

Notice that the white bread, which was straight and not against the mold, settles nicely into the rounded shape once moistened.Summer Pudding from My Kitchen WandOnce the bread bowl is complete add the strawberries to the cooked fruit and fill the mold. Gently press down and then using the last of the bread and juice create the top layer. Close the plastic wrap over the top.Summer Pudding from My Kitchen WandPlace the filled bowl in the fridge and evenly add weights. You can see “evenly” was a little off kilter so several hours in, the weights were rearranged and all was good in the end.Summer Pudding from My Kitchen WandSix hours minimum in the fridge will bring all the flavours together. Overnight is better and this one was actually in the fridge for 36 hours before it was finished and ready for its close up.

To serve, remove the top layer of plastic. Place the serving plate over the top and turn upside down. Remove the mold and remaining plastic. Summer pudding is often served with a vanilla custard sauce but sweetened whipped cream works as well. The floral infused honey made at Beltane worked well as the sweetener and the sweetened whipped cream helped keep the fruit garnish in place.Summer Pudding from My Kitchen WandWhen I started this project, it was a bright summer day. Perfect for a cool dessert. By the time I got to pictures, we were back to rain and grey days, so much so, that the lights needed to be on for some of the photos.

Summer Pudding from My Kitchen WandSummer Pudding from My Kitchen Wand

Posted in Dessert, Lughnasadh/Lammas.