Summer pudding is a wonderful, classic British dessert. Don’t think of those little creamy pots, this is closer to a berry French toast, a celebration of summer berries, wrapped up in a sponge-like coat. It’s both easy and delicious, and is one no bake dessert your whole family will love.
When I was a child we went berry picking pretty much every year, that I can remember. There was a berry farm not too far from us that had pick your own. As a big fan of fruit, I was always up for going. On top of that, we also foraged blackberries and elderberries around the area.
We ended up with a lot of berries.
We froze many of the berries to use later in the year, made others in to jam (though not the strawberry peach jam I made recently, but more single-fruit varieties). My mum also made wine with blackberries and elderberries and we had a number of desserts like crumbles with others.
Then we pretty much always had at least one summer pudding. It’s an incredibly easy dessert to make, it just takes a little patience as it needs to rest overnight, but it’s worth the wait.
What is summer pudding?
Summer pudding is called a pudding as it has that texture and shape like other British puddings (figgy pudding, Christmas pudding) from being made in a bowl. But unlike those more typical steamed puddings, this one gets it’s colorful ‘sponge’ through a bit of a cheat. The berries inside are gently cooked first just enough to release some juices that soak into slightly stale bread and pack it with flavor, a soft texture and color.
How to make summer pudding
- Line a bowl with cling wrap.
- Remove crusts from bread and line the bowl with bread.
- Cut extra bread to make a ‘lid’.
- Gently warm a mix of berries with some sugar and a little water to release the juices.
- Pour the berries into the bread-lined bowl, put on the bread lid then pour over some of the extra juice.
- Cover and weight down a plate on top, then refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, invert it and serve in slices.
Lining the bowl with cling wrap/cling film isn’t a step I was brought up doing, But I have seen it in a few recipes and I have to say, it’s great to make sure the pudding doesn’t stick to the bowl, as can happen now and then.
About the hardest part is doing the jigsaw-like piecing together of the bread to line the bowl. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it isn’t really that obvious if you fill gaps with smaller pieces.
You just want to make sure the bowl is fully covered so the fruit doesn’t escape. Use a fairly dense bread – this is one of the few times I’d use a white sliced loaf or as here, more of a boule. Even with a denser bread, some juice will immediately seep though the joins but don’t worry, that’s normal.
By the next day, the bread will have become properly soaked. If you have the odd patches that are still white, use some of the extra juice from the berries once you invert the pudding. It also helps give it a lovely shine before serving.
See how to put this dessert together in this short video:
The result is a deliciously berry-packed slice that’s relatively light. This summer pudding is a bit lighter on sugar than many traditional recipes, but it’s still sweet and full of berry goodness. It was enjoyed by kids and adults alike in our house. Give it a try, and hopefully it will in yours too!
Summer pudding is a classic British no bake dessert, packed with berries.
- 7 oz white bread 200g - weight trimmed of crusts
- 4 oz blueberries 115g
- 8 oz strawberries 225g
- 5 oz blackberries 140g
- 8 oz raspberries 225g
- 3 oz redcurrants 85g
- 1/2 cup sugar 105g (or a little more, to taste)
- 1/4 cup water 60ml
Line a bowl that has a capacity of a little over 4 cups/1 liter with cling wrap/film.
Take a piece of the trimmed bread and put in the middle of the base of the bowl, trimming a little if needed to it sits relatively flat. Then use more pieces to line around the sides, trimming as necessary so they sit relatively flat around the sides but with no gaps. It's better to slightly press them to hold together than leave gaps. You can plug any gaps with scraps of bread. Also cut pieces of bread to form a lid over the bowl, fitting just inside the bread lining you have made (see photos above/video).
Wash all of the fruit, remove stones if using any stone fruit and chop larger pieces eg of strawberry so the various fruits are a similar size (apart form any smaller ones, obviously).
Put all of the fruit, sugar and water in a pan and cook over a medium-low heat for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the fruit are starting to release their juices but still not breaking up too much.
Scoop the fruit into the middle of the bread-lined bowl - it should fill right to the top. Put the bread lid on top then pour over some of the reserved juices to moisten the bread. You can put a little towards the edge too, just try not to let it escape the bowl. Save any leftover juices.
Fold the cling wrap/film over the bread then place a plate on top and weigh it down eg with a can/tin. Refrigerate overnight.
When ready to use, open up the cling to expose the bread lid, put a plate on top then invert the bowl. Carefully ease off the bowl/cling to leave the pudding on the plate. Drizzle over some extra juices and serve (decorated if you like with more fruit).
(see video above)
If you can't get/don't particularly like some of the fruits I suggest you can use others, as well as changing the quantities, just use approximately the same overall quantity. I'd also recommend using at least one dark colored fruit like blackberries or blackcurrants to give a nice color to the pudding.
Use a relatively dense white bread for this - a regular sliced/denser French style is good, but not one with lots of larger air pockets like a ciabatta. You can also use brioche.
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