Monday, June 21, 2010

in season: summer (spring) berry pudding

It is really freaking hot out today. We didn't have much of a spring, it's been so hot for so long already. Even though it was not technically summer until today, this berry pudding made a special spring appearance to help combat the weather and take advantage of the super sweet berries gracing the greenmarket.

Since it was still spring when I actually made this, my choice of berries leans toward the early season favorites - strawberries, blueberries, and sweet cherries. This super easy British classic takes modest ingredients and transforms them into an almost fancy dessert with just a little patience and pressure. It's almost as if the bread, soaking up those sweet juices, turns into cake and waits for you cold and refreshing in the fridge to delight you with a dollop of cream. And you don't even need to turn on an oven. Keep one of these in the fridge at all times this summer, choose the best variety of berries that you can find in the market, you won't regret it. Recipe after the jump:


6 cups assorted seasonal berries (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, currants, etc)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp kirsch
1 small bundle of mint
1 loaf of soft, dense sliced white bread, crusts removed (brioche also works great)

Prep any berries that need stemming or pitting, slicing any larger berries. In a medium saucepan, combine the berries with the sugar, kirsch, and mint bundle. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the juices release and the berries soften, about 8-10 minutes. Remove the mint bundle and discard, then set the berries aside to cool slightly.

Line a 6-cup pudding bowl with plastic wrap, leaving enough overhang to cover the opening once it is full. Line the bowl along the bottom and all the way up the sides with slices of bread, dipping the outer side of the bread into the berry syrup before placing. Be sure the bowl is completely lined, you will probably need to cut slices to size to fill gaps. Using a slotted spoon, fill the bowl with about 1/3 of the berries. Top with a layer of bread. Repeat the layering twice, finish with a cover of bread dipped in the syrup. Pour the remaining syrup over the top layer. Fold over the plastic wrap overhang. Cover with a plate, pressing down on the pudding. Top the plate with a heavy can to weight it down. Store in the fridge for at least 12 hours, but the longer you let it chill the better.

To serve, unmold the pudding and remove the plastic wrap. Slice into wedges and serve topped with fresh berries, a dollop of whipped cream, and a garnish of mint.

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