Winterised ‘Summer Pudding’.
WARNING>>>>>WARNING>>>>>>WARNING>>>>>> must make at least 24 hours in advance for the best effect, 48 is optimum.
What you need:
3 pint pudding bowl.
1 cheap white sliced bread loaf (stale is a bonus, but please…no mould)
2 lbs. / 900g of frozen mixed berries (for the Martha Stewarts among you that’s the berries you picked in your own garden, laid out singly and froze during the summer, for the rest of us it’s the best value from the frozen section of the supermarket)
1 lb. / 580g castor sugar
24 fl. oz. / 680 ml water
What you do:
Cut all the crusts off the white bread and line the pudding bowl, bottom, sides and all gaps in between with one layer of bread. Don’t worry if it looks like your first effort to get your Brownie/Girl Guide medical badge, it will all blend later.
Now, dissolve the sugar in the water over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Boil for two minutes and then add in the fruit. Turn up the heat to full. I find that if you add in the red and black currents first and get the mixture boiling again and then add the strawberries blackberries and raspberries, the fruit holds its shape more uniformly. Get it all boiling again (it must be nuclear to soak through the bread properly) but for Pete’s sake don’t turn the whole thing to mush. Pour half into the lined pudding bowl, making sure that the bread stays where it’s supposed to be. Put in a layer of bread and then pour in the rest. Top with another layer of bread and pour some syrup over it. At this point the sides and underneath may be patchy. If you fear that the syrup won’t soak through just slip a butter knife gently down the side and pour a spoon of syrup in the gap. This is where it gets messy. DO NOT try to add all the liquid….. you know you want to, but honestly, it doesn’t fit!! Keep some aside for when you unmould it. I know you finally did get that brownies badge but believe me, there is always a tell-tale white patch that needs covering when you turn it out.
To get the most shapely result put a side plate on top and weigh it down with suitable items. Do not use stones from the garden without rinsing them and putting a layer of cling film between them and the syrup. Yep, that’s what I didn’t do and ended up with unusable puddings at a dinner party due to the syrup being laced with grit….not big or clever. Wrap the whole thing in more cling film, yes the WHOLE thing. For some unknown reason the syrup grows in the fridge. Unlikely I hear you say, but I dare you to leave it uncovered and not on a tray in your pristine fridge. Leave for 24-48 hours. Then unmould into a large flat bowl or plate with a decent lip. Pour some extra syrup over the top and decorate. This is where seasonal ethics apply. You can use some of those imported off-season tasteless berries (guilt overload complete) or you can use cranberries for example. A sprig of holly or some scraggly mint from what’s left in the garden will suffice as a bonus.
Serve with lashings of whipped cream or crème fraiche or even mascarpone.