The Ladies' Tea Guild

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Victorian recipe reborn -- summer pudding!

Summer pudding.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
It's "too darn hot" around here! Yet, there are festivities where sweet things are expected.  Ice cream and popsicles are always a good thing (I keep a box of popsicles or fudgesicles in the freezer all summer), but what if you want something a little more elegant, but you don't want to heat up the house?  Summer pudding is a refreshing, no-bake, party-worthy dessert.  Opinions differ as to the origins of the recipe; it seems to be a late-Victorian Trifle combined with a Charlotte.  No matter; it's delicious, and easy, and involves 2 minutes of simmering on the stove, so your house stays cool!  I made a summer pudding for a party on the 4th of July, and it went over really well.  Here is the recipe I used, based on a recipe from a book by Elizabeth David, posted to the Leite's Culinaria blog:

12 oz. frozen sweetened raspberries (thawed)
1 box fresh raspberries
1/2 lb. fresh sweet cherries (pitted)
2 Tablespoons plum jam (could use raspberry or strawberry)
1/4 cup sugar
1 loaf sliced white bread, day-old or dried slightly in the oven, crusts trimmed
heavy cream

Heat the fresh berries and cherries with the sugar and jam in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook them 2 to 3 minutes until the fruit softens and exudes juice, and the sugar and jam dissolve.  Remove from the heat, stir in the thawed berries and set aside to cool.  Line a 1-quart glass, or other non-metal, bowl with plastic wrap, leaving at least 4 inches of plastic to hang over the rim of the bowl, then line the bowl, bottom and sides, with bread slices.  Overlap the edges of the bread slices to leave no gaps where fruit or juice can escape.  Fill the bread-lined bowl with the fruit mixture and any juices, then cover the fruit with a complete layer of bread, again, making sure there are no gaps.  Fold the edges of the plastic wrap over the bread to cover it completely, then place a small plate or saucer on top of the bowl, making sure that the plate just fits inside the bowl's rim, and put 2 to 3 pounds of weight -- like cans of food -- on top of the plate to press the bread and fruit down.  Place the whole contraption on a separate larger plate to catch any drips of juice, and put in the refrigerator to chill overnight.  The bread will soak up the juices and hold the pudding together as it chills.  When ready to serve, remove from the fridge, remove the plate and food cans, unfold the plastic wrap from the top of the bread, and turn the pudding out into a wide, shallow bowl, or serving plate with a rim to catch the juices.  Remove the plastic from the pudding, and pour heavy cream on and around it.  Garnish with fresh berries and a sprig of mint, and serve, with more cream on the side.

You can also serve it with vanilla custard, vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche, but I find that plain heavy cream is decadent enough!  It goes really well with a tall glass of iced tea or lemonade. The photo above is from Wikipedia because I didn't get a photo of my summer pudding. We ate it up too quickly! 


Bernideen said...

How delightful to find this recipe and all the fun information - I love making old fashioned recipes so I must make this!

South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild said...

I hope you like it, Bernideen!

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)