What better way to say hello to summer and (hopefully) goodbye to the rainy cold Spring that with a Summer Pudding!
Dessert doesn’t really get much easier than this. Line a mold with slices of pan de mie or a bread that is similarly sturdy. The bread you select will need to hold its shape when doused with fresh ripe berries that have been warmed with a bit of sugar just enough to bring out their juicy goodness. I chose to do individual servings, but vary the presentation as you like.
Seize this opportunity to celebrate the turn of the season. HELLO, summer!
1 loaf firm-textured white bread, such as Pullman Bread
3 pints raspberries (about 6 cups)
3 pints blackberries (about 6 cups)
1 C sugar
splash of lemon juice, to taste
optional: 2 t framboise or cassis, to taste
1 c heavy cream, chilled
1 T sugar
1 t pure vanilla extract
Gently warm the berries and sugar in a stainless steel saucepan. Cook until the berries start to break down and release their juices, but do not completely stew the fruit. You want some berries to hold their shape. Remove fruit from heat and stir in lemon juice or any additional flavoring.
Slice the crusts from the bread and cut into sizes that will fit your mold. Line a 1 1/2-quart soufflé dish, bowl or ramekins with plastic wrap. Line the sides and bottom with bread until the inside surface of the mold has a layer of bread one slice thick. Fill in any open spaces with bread trimmings, making sure you have no gaps. Keep in mind this will be the surface of your pudding once the mold is inverted.
Pour half of the berries into your mold, distributing half the juices over all. Layer more bread slices over the berries, using trimmings as necessary. (If you’re making individual ramekins, you may not have room for a middle layer of bread.) Add the last of the remaining berries and juices. Finish with a final layer of bread that covers the entire surface of the pudding.
Lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of the pudding. Set a plate with a slightly smaller diameter on top and place a moderately heavy weight (like a canned good or a ceramic bowl) on the plate to compact the pudding. Refrigerate overnight to give the mixture time to soak through and firm up.
When ready to serve, whip the cream. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat just until it forms soft peaks.
Remove the top layer of plastic wrap from the pudding and invert onto a serving plate. (Depending on the amount of residual juice, you may want to choose a serving plate with a rim.) Carefully lift off the mold and plastic wrap. Serve with whipped cream.