I’m finding myself more and more drawn to British food, perversely. It could just be that I’m in love with Nigel Slater, the British food writer, since I don’t really feel the need to linger lovingly over the scribblings of other British chefs — Jamie Oliver, et al. But I am stunned by the simple, focused, epicurian, poetic, vivid present in which Slater writes. See? When Slater gives it, British food doesn’t seem to be nasty, overcooked, and hunk-o-meatcentric at all. It almost resembles cooking in Oregon in the summer, when we turn to the fresh vegetables and fruits at the market. And it makes sense, too, because the climate of the land and the people are similar.
So I saw a recipe for his summer pudding with red fruit, and immediately set to adapting it for Oregonian kitchens, overrun with blackberries in August. These are some pictures of my first attempt to make the pudding with the berries available early in the summer, tayberries and frozen blueberries. I’ll be sharing the recipe soon and talking about this gorgeous dessert at my class on “Blackberries Gone Wild” at the Lane County Fair! [Edited to add: See recipe for this and other blackberry summer desserts in my article in the Register-Guard. The recipe for the pudding is pasted below.]
Blackberry Summer Pudding
Adapted from cookbook author David Lebovitz’s recipe. The proportions are for an 8-inch glass mixing bowl. You may use a 1½-quart soufflé dish or large glass loaf pan, but there may be fruit left over. This recipe is best with a mix of different berries, but can also be made with one variety of blackberries. The currants/sour cherries/blueberries add a tartness and texture to the mix, and should not be omitted. Frozen fruit may be used for this recipe, but fresh is best. Plan for an overnight refrigeration.
- 6 cups blackberries
- 6 cups another variety of blackberry (boysenberries are particularly nice)
- 2 cups red currants, sour cherries or blueberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons kirsch
- 1 loaf firm, high-quality white bread
- Extra berries for garnish
In a stockpot, bring the 14 cups of berries and sugar up to a simmer. Cook until the sugar is melted and the berries release their juices, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the kirsch.
Remove the crusts from the bread and slice it into 1/2-inch slices if you are not using pre-sliced bread.
Line bowl with plastic wrap to ease the removal of the pudding. Use enough wrap to let it hang over the sides for folding over the top when you finish.
Place the slices of bread around the bottom and side of the bowl, overlapping the slices slightly and cutting pieces to fit the holes where necessary.
Set aside and refrigerate one cup of berries with juice for the final presentation.
Working slowly, ladle 3-4 cups of berries and juice over the bread, pressing juice and pulp into the bread on the sides of the bowl as well as the bottom. Pour half of the berries into the bread-lined pan, and spread them over the bottom layer of bread to cover the entire surface.
Add another layer of bread on top of the berry and bread layer, placing and cutting pieces as before. Spread out about half the remaining berries on the sides and bottom of the layer of bread.
Cover with a final layer of bread, and add the remaining berries and juice.
Fold the plastic wrap over the bread on top. Before placing in the refrigerator, find a plate or other flat surface to fit on top of the pudding, inside the bowl. Weigh down the plate with a large can of tomatoes or large bag of beans. Refrigerate overnight.
Before serving, unfold the plastic wrap and use it to help invert the pudding onto a large serving plate. Remove the bowl and the plastic wrap. You may see spots that are not fully stained purple. Use the reserved berry juice to color in these spots, and pour the rest on the sides of the pudding. Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream and any extra fresh berries.