I’m very excited to see the first strawberry flowers in our container garden: the berry season in upon us! We will have just enough of our strawberries to taste, but usually go to the berry farms to pick larger quantities. The best way to enjoy berries is to eat them fresh on their own or in fruit salads. Also, we make a lot of berry ice cream, freeze some (raspberries freeze well) and of course, make one of my favourite summer desserts: berry pudding.
Berry pudding (also called summer pudding) is packed with goodness and bursting with flavour. It is a perfect dessert for a hot Australian Christmas that falls in the middle of the berry season and by far healthier and more refreshing than a traditional Christmas pudding. Its crimson red colour and green garnish match perfectly the traditional Christmas theme.
The summer berry pudding recipe
The berry pudding is really easy to prepare. There are only three ingredients needed plus cream to serve:
- 10 slices of day old white bread, 1cm (1/2in) thick
- 1 kg (2.2 lb) mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, redcurrants or other)
- 50 g (2.1 oz) sugar – more if the fruit is tart or you have sweet tooth
- cream to serve, fresh berries, mint or similar for decoration
For the above quantity you’ll need a 1.5 l (6 cups) capacity bowl. For smaller or individual puddings, here is the ratio I use to adjust the ingredients:
For every 250g or fruit use 25g of sugar and 1 cup (250ml) capacity dish. Simply remember
250g – 25g – 250ml
The quantity for bread is a bit trickier to give as it depends on the type of bread and the slice thickness. However, if you make individual puddings, you’ll need more bread.
- Slice the bread and remove the crusts. Place the first slice at the base of the bowl and then the rest around, overlapping slightly
- Put the berries and the sugar in the saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes or till juices start to run. Spoon slightly cooled fruit mixture into the bread lined bowl. If there is plenty of juice, leave some for serving.
- Cover the top with the remaining bread slices (fold over side slices first).
- Put a plate on the bowl and weigh it down with whatever is in the fridge: milk cartons, jars of jam or bottles of sauces. Refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours or even better overnight (great dessert to prepare ahead for a busy day). To catch any juices oozing over the brim, put a plate underneath the bowl.
- To serve, remove the plate, loosen the sides of the pudding with a spatula or a knife, place the serving plate on the top and invert the pudding onto the plate. Pour the reserved juice if any left, decorate with fresh berries, mint leaves or to your liking. I’ve used pineapple sage leaves to decorate my summer berry pudding on the picture above. Serve with whipped cream.
The pudding on the picture I made in January this year and is slightly smaller (4 cup capacity). Besides being easy to make, healthy and really yummy, the pudding is a great way to use some dried out bread. For more idea on how to use the old bread read the post 12 ways to use up old bread.
Few more tips:
Bread: A homemade white loaf or one from the baker works better than a pre-sliced sandwich or toast bread (too soft to hold the shape), wholemeal, seeded, some sourdough or breads with large holes like ciabbata. Make sure not to press or flatten the slices when arranging in the bowl or they won’t soak up the juice. This especially applies to shop bought white toast bread.
Sweet breads like brioche are also suitable for the summer berry pudding.
Fruit: Frozen berries can be used too. Prepare it the same way as fresh berries.
You can substitute 1/3 to 1/2 of the berry quantity needed with some other type of fruit like peaches or plums if berries are too pricey or you’re short of the amount needed.
Bowl: glass or ceramic (china) bowl works well, but you can use any provided it’s not too big or too deep so you don’t end up with a pudding that is difficult to serve or collapses. No need to line the bowl with the cling wrap or to oil it.
Freezing: Berry pudding freezes well, but allow the time in the fridge first to let the bread to soak up juices before freezing.
Food intolerance: Served without cream this dessert is dairy free. Substitute coconut cream for whipped cream if desired. If you use gluten free bread, summer berry pudding becomes an healthy and easy gluten free dessert.