A perfect, perfect dessert for summer gatherings in Oregon, this lovely, solid, old-fashioned British chilled pudding is laden with sweetened berry and cherry juice. I use red currants, raspberries, and tayberries from the garden, plus a glut of sour cherries and a good slosh of homemade cranberry liqueur. Life is good.
It’s fine to use dark berries, but I like the study in red. In fact, this recipe is based on one for blackberries that I wrote for the Register-Guard a number of years ago, since disappeared (see purple pic below).
Also nice: you can take the crusts and layer them in a small bowl, then use any remaining berry compote to make a red fruit summer pudding for a solo breakfast, comme ça:
Just press and chill just like the big pudding.
This dessert is a show stopper and should be made for an otherwise humdrum potluck at least once a year in July, when the sour cherries are ripe. If you are fortunate enough to have access to endless flats of berries, like we are in the Willamette Valley, it’s not terrifically expensive, just a small luxury, but the costs may be prohibitive elsewhere. Sorry! :) You could use frozen and thawed fruit, but it’s not really the same.
Red Fruit Summer Pudding
The proportions in this recipe are for an 8-inch glass mixing bowl. Use glass to see how well the juice has soaked into the bread. You may use a 1-1/2-quart soufflé dish or large glass loaf pan, but there may be fruit left over. Frozen fruit may be used for this recipe, and it actually helps if the raspberries are frozen so they’ll release more juice. Plan for an overnight refrigeration.
- 6 cups raspberries, preferably pre-frozen
- 6 cups fresh, pitted sour cherries with juice
- 2 cups red currants, gooseberries, or a mix of both
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon red fruit liqueur or a little kirsch
- 1 loaf firm, high-quality white bread (I’ve used Market of Choice’s crumpet bread with good results; don’t use sourdough)
- extra berries for garnish
- whipped cream for serving
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 with juice. Use the reserved juice to color in these spots, and pour the rest on the sides of the pudding. Garnish with extra fresh berries. Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream.