We are in the height of blueberry goodness and I am loving more than a pint of blueberries a week. I’ve been popping them straight into the mouth, accessorizing my cereal in the morning, polka-dotting buttermilk pancakes and dreaming of blueberry desserts. So, when an email turned up in my inbox last week from Gourmet with the subject line “Ruth’s Blueberry Recipe Picks,” I clicked with eager anticipation. Ruth writes, “Blueberries taste great, they’re gorgeous, and they’re good for you.” Exclamation point to that.

One of the items on her “favorites” list was Summer Pudding with Blueberries. After reading the recipe, my excitement grew. Something that resembles bread pudding (which I love) that doesn’t require turning on the oven, can be made days ahead of serving AND showcases the summer’s best, fresh berries?!?! No brainer. Right up my alley.

I was, unfortunately, unable to find a brioche loaf so I used challah. And, I mixed a few blackberries in with the blueberries and raspberries. Carefully, I lined the bowl with the bread, filled in the cooked fruit, topped with bread, soaked with syrup, weighted it all down with a big can of baked beans and tucked my baby in the fridge over night.

The next afternoon, I couldn’t wait any longer to turn it out and marvel at my newest creation. We decided to have a pre-lunch dessert. I held my breath, flipped the bowl and uncovered it, preparing for an audible, “TA DA!!!!!!” Quickly, my shoulders sagged and brow furrowed. I expected a deep, berry-colored mound. And, as you can see, it was not. The sauce had not soaked through the bread!

I included the above photo because you can see that the unsoaked bread did not stop us from cleaning our plates. But, I was still a bit disappointed. Maybe it was the challah vs. brioche? Maybe I didn’t let it sit long enough? Is there a Summer Pudding Expert out there who can help?

There are so many things that I LOVE about the idea of Summer Pudding that this will not be my last attempt. In the short term, I think I will endure the heat of the oven and make this Blueberry Crisp.

p.s. I cut the sugar in half and was happy with the tart/sweet balance.

Summer Pudding with Blueberries and Raspberries
from Gourmet, July 2007

A little easy preparation, plus time, yields a gorgeous old-fashioned English dessert that showcases summer berries in the most glorious way. The bread retains a bit of its texture and absorbs all the natural juices exuded by the berries for a cool, smooth intensity.

1 unsliced rectangular loaf of brioche or good-quality firm white bread such as Pullman (1 lb), crusts discarded
4 cups blueberries (1 lb)
5 cups raspberries (18 oz)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

A deep 2 1/2-quart bowl (preferably 8 inches in diameter across top and 3 inches across bottom); a platter with a lip

Cut bread into 14 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. Cut out a 3-inch round from 1 slice and put in bottom of bowl. Line side of bowl with 10 slices, overlapping them slightly. Bring berries, sugar, and lemon juice to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, then simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries collapse and release their juices, about 8 minutes. Spoon fruit into a sieve set over a bowl and let drain 15 minutes. Spoon drained fruit into bread-lined bowl (reserve juices) and cover completely with remaining bread, cutting bread to fit.

Pour juices evenly over bread, making sure all bread is saturated. Cover pudding directly with a piece of wax paper and place a 7-inch plate, upside down, on top of paper. Put a 1- to 1 1/2-pound weight (such as a large can) on plate and chill at least 8 hours.

Remove weight, plate, and wax paper and invert platter over bowl, then invert bowl onto platter. Carefully unmold.

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11 Responses to “Summer Berry Pudding – Could’ve Been So Beautiful, Could’ve Been So Right”

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  2. Hannah Says:

    This looks so tasty! I’m not an expert in making Summer Pudding at all, but my mum’s version is delicious…she says using the cheapest plain white bread (the square kind) often makes the best pudding. And she always saves some juice to pour over the top when she uncovers the pudding to soak into any rogue white patches.
    Enjoy your Blueberry Crisp, x

  3. Amanda Says:

    I’ve interchanged challah for brioche and it works fine. I don’t think its the bread that made the pudding a little dry. Manybe you could add a little heavy cream to the berry mixture, as it would meld with the juices of the fruit while baking. Soaking break with some kind of custard/cream is always a good idea when making bread pudding.

  4. Antonia Says:

    I’ve just made a summer pudding and make them every summer in the same way that my mother and grandmother made theirs!
    As Hannah says, a truly traditional English summer pudding is made with just slightly stale plain sliced white bread. Fresh bread doesn’t seem to soak up the juice so well. I always add water to the berries when simmering to create plenty of juice. Sometimes I soak the bread in the juice prior to lining the bowl to be sure it is fully coloured. I also always keep a jug of juice to soak into any white patches.
    Also, I always use quite a thin sliced loaf – less bread for the juices to soak into.
    As well as blackberries and raspberries, I usually include redcurrants and blackcurrants and strawberries.
    Really glad yours still tasted good all the same and hope you’ll have another go. I’ll be posting mine over the next day or so!

  5. Stolk Says:

    After picking blueberries last weekend, our mutual friend, Dharma, sent me this link: It’s her favorite, she said, but I have not tried it. But who can go wrong with mini-cornmeal biscuits!

  6. sponge cake bob Says:

    yes, I agree with the fellow who mentioned the slightly stale bread. Bread pudding was created in the 13th century as a means to use up stale bread. A “sop” is a hollowed out loaf that was used to .. you guessed it.. sop us the juices. custard wasn’t added until way later.. and a pudding was widely referred to as something simply encased in a crust.

    I agree that it was the fresh spongy, dense bread that didn’t allow the juices to soak through.
    for me I like to set the bread out (cut in big cubes) for about 3 days before making the pudding..
    but I DO use eggs and cream in mine..
    blows my mind…

  7. Lei Says:

    I am almost positive that that happened because you cut the sugar. The sugar helps the fruit release all of their juices, which is essential to getting the bread nice and soaked. If you like the tart flavor too much to add more sugar (I am a fan of less sweet desserts as well) I would recommend adding more juicy berries. A proper summer pudding is not only beautiful, but one of the most delicious desserts you could make!

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  10. Alex Says:

    The recipe I can’t find didn’t even call for the fruit to be cooked beyond the barest simmer(with a little sugar and lemon). Can anybody share a favorite recipe for summer pudding that involves no cooking or minimal cooking? I have a flat full of beautiful ripe berries that won’t last past tomorrow. Thanks

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