I’ve long wanted to try my hand at summer pudding, the classic British dessert made in the height of summer when berries are abundant and very ripe. It’s ideal for warm weather and the colour is perfect for the festive table. There are many variations using all sorts of berries, but raspberries and red currants seem to predominate with the British authorities such as Elizabeth David and Delia Smith. You can add other berries, including bilberries and loganberries if you like, even blackberries or blackcurrants, but be sparing with these last two if you want a deep red (rather than purple) result; strawberries don’t seem to work as well. Given the cost of fresh raspberries in Australia, I’ve used frozen ones – but you could certainly use fresh and just cook them for a touch a longer. Substitute 250g of red currants for 250g of the raspberries if you like. And since we’re feeling festive (and drinking in the sun) a glass of pretty pink Innocent Bystander Moscato is perfect – with gentle bubbles, slight sweetness and a quaffable 5.5% alcohol.
- ¾ cup castor sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1kg frozen raspberries
- 14 slices day-old sliced white sandwich bread, crusts removed
- Fresh raspberries and red currants, for garnishing
- Mint leaves, for garnishing
- Double cream, for serving
- Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and place over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.
- Add frozen fruit, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until fruit softens. Uncover, increase heat, bring to the boil, then remove from heat.
- Strain, reserving juice and fruit separately and set aside until cool.
- Meanwhile, line the bottom of a 1-litre bowl with a disc of bread. Cut truncated cones of bread to line the sides of the bowl and arrange them in the bowl as tightly as possible, filling in any gaps with off-cuts.
- Place bowl on a rimmed plate.
- Pour fruit into the bread-lined bowl and level it off. Add about ¼ cup of juice, enough to moisten the fruit, reserving the rest.
- Cut bread to cover the top of the pudding and dip it in reserved juice to soak it well. Cover the top of the pudding with soaked bread, filling in any gaps with off-cuts. Pour another spoonful or two of juice over the top to colour any remaining white bread.
- Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap. Press in a plate small enough to rest just inside the bowl. Weight it down with tinned food or other weights and refrigerate for 12 hours or so. Refrigerate remaining juice separately.
- Invert the pudding onto a serving plate and spoon just enough reserved juice over it to soak any bread that isn’t deeply coloured.
- Garnish with raspberries, red currants and mint leaves and serve in wedges with cream and remaining reserved juice on the side.