Somehow, when personalities were doled out, I got a love of inefficiency; I always gravitate to doing things the hard way. From cleaning to artwork to cooking, the most impassable road is the one I go down. And for a long time, that was perfectly fine. I was young and single and had time to burn. These days, though, I have two active kids, and my love of inefficiency has turned into a major liability. So while I’ll still take a weekend day to make a multi-step pie recipe or reorganize my closets, I also keep an eye on what’s easy; you know, like all those smart people in the world.
Now that summer is undeniably underway, easy eats are at the top of my list. For our family, summer is all about long days cooking out at the pool or hosting friends for a laid-back dinner in the backyard, and while I want to eat like a queen, I don’t really feel like cooking. That’s where this divine summer berry pudding comes in. You see, Americans are all about their pie, but the British have mastered the art of combining good things like cookies or stale bread or meringues in a bowl with fruit and sugar, and always cream, and creating an amazing (totally easy) dessert.
Taking a page from their book, I made this summer berry pudding. Tasting more like a very moist cake, this beauty is nothing but stale bread, fresh berries, lemon, and a little sugar. Pressed in the fridge overnight, a distinctly delicious alchemy results in the perfect summer dessert.
Summer Berry Pudding
Serves: 8 – 10
Prep time: 15 minutes
1 large loaf light, spongy white bread, crusts removed (about 8 large slices)
6 cups blackberries and raspberries (or any mixture of summer berries), divided
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 inch section of vanilla bean
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1. Slice the bread into 3/4 inch slices. If it’s not already stale, set slices out to dry out overnight or set in a 200 degree F oven for one hour.
2. In a large non-reactive pot, heat 5 cups fruit, 1 cup of sugar, lemon zest and juice, and the scrapings of the vanilla bean over medium heat. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and the fruits have released their juices. Set pot aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, line a 4-cup cake pan, bundt pan, or bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a bit overhanging the edges. (For ease, I used a springform pan.) Press several slices stale bread into the pan to create a layer for the top. Use broken pieces to fill any cracks. Drizzle half the fruit over the bread evenly. Add a second layer of bread and the remaining fruit. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap and press down.
4. Next, find a plate that approximates the width of the pan you’re using. (If needed, cut a piece of cardboard and cover with foil.) Press plate into the pudding, weigh down with a heavy can or bowl, and set in the fridge overnight.
5. Before serving, remove the weight and plastic wrap, flip onto a platter, and then remove plastic wrap surrounding the pudding. Whip the cream with 1 teaspoon sugar. Top pudding with the remaining cup of fresh berries, slice, and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.More On