Grove Farm recently. It encapsulates all the vibrant, zingy, fresh, fruity, sweet flavours of summer berries to form a truly divine dessert. It’s amazing how gently heating the summer fruits and encasing them in a bread lined bowl can transform already wonderful tasting berries into something truly spectacular.
When you think about it – mushed up berries encased in soggy bread – it doesn’t sound particularly appealing but in reality it’s fabulous. The berries juices are a vibrant red, shiny and glossy while the fruits are soft and sweet, their natural summery flavours personified by being tumbled together, while the gentle heating breaks down their sometimes tough outer skins.
The colour and flavour of the berry juices is outstanding. I even used some of the leftover drizzled on my morning cereal and yogurt.
The bread eagerly absorbs the fruits juices while retaining just enough of its structure to remain intact when turned out. Cutting a slice reveals the mingled berries tucked inside as they tumble out in a pool of their own glossy juices.
As I knew this particular summer pudding was to be enjoyed by adults only I decided to add a bit of extra indulgence to the pudding – black cherry liqueur and Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur). Not too much, I didn’t want to actually taste the alcohol, only highlight and deepen the fruitiness of the berries.
I used the cut off crusts of bread to mop up the little blobs of berries and juices I had managed to spread around the kitchen and oh boy did it taste gooooood. I was almost tempted to do away with the chilling and firming stage and just dig straight in but with no pets or small children to use as scapegoats I managed to restrain myself until later when I enjoyed it with my family. It was worth the wait.
So simple, so summery, so unbelievably good and it’s healthy too! It has to be one of my favourite ways to enjoy the summer berry bounty. I urge you to give it a go. If you’d like to make mini individual ones, click here to see last years post.
100g caster sugar
6 slices of white bread
1 tbsp black cherry liqueur or Kirsch
1 tbsp Crème de Cassis
Sort through the raspberries and blackcurrants and remove any bits of twig or leaf before placing them into a saucepan. Destalk the strawberries and cut them into halves or quarters so they are about the same size as the raspberries. Add to the pan with the rest of the fruit.
Pour over the water and heat gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the fruits start to break down and release their juices.
Stir in the sugar and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Then stir in the cherry liqueur and Cassis and remove from the heat.
Pour the berry mixture into a sieve placed over a bowl to catch the fruits juices. Transfer the juice – minus its fruit back into the saucepan. Bring the fruit juices to the boil then allow to bubble for 1-2 minutes until slightly reduced and syrupy. (You want to do this after removing the fruit so some of the fruit remains intact).
Remove the fruit juice from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Slice the crusts off the slices of bread and cut one slice in half. With another slice, cut out as large a circle as the bread will allow, ideally about 4inches, for the base of the bowl. You will need about 3½ slices to line the sides of the bowl, the circle for the base and the remaining 1½ slices for the top. You can check if you have enough by testing it out in the bowl or pudding basin you are going to use.
Your glass bowl or pudding basin should be 6inches wide at the top and 3inches at the base and about 3inches deep.
Dip the base circle of bread into the glossy fruit juices in the pan, don’t leave it for long or else it will go too soft to handle. Turn the bread over to soak the other side before placing it into the base of your bowl or basin.
Once fully lined, pour the strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants into the centre, smoothing out the surface. It should reach nearly to the top of the bowl.
Dip your final 1½ slices of bread into the fruit juices and arrange over the top of the fruit to act as a ‘lid’ (save the rest of the fruit juices to serve with the pudding later). Gently press down the side pieces of bread, over the top of the ‘lid’ and cover the top of the bowl with clingfilm.
Place a small plate or saucer on top of the pudding and weigh it down with something heavy, weights from your scales or large tins of tomatoes are ideal.
Once ready to serve, remove the clingfilm and run a small round bladed butter knife around the top edge of the bowl to loosen any fruit juice than might have air dried slightly and gone sticky.
Place a large serving plate over the top and flip the whole lot over. Give the pudding basin a little shake and the summer pudding should release from the bowl and hold its shape well. Drizzle over some of the reserved juices.
Serve in generous slices with some more of the reserved juices and cream or ice cream if desired.