Proper summer pudding

by Ray McVinne | Cuisine issue #156
Serves: 6I have had so-called summer puddings with gelatine in them, flavoured with liqueurs and bathed in sauces.

For me though, nothing compares to the original English flash of culinary genius that is a proper summer pudding, containing just three ingredients – bread, berries and sugar. It’s essential to use good-quality bread as mass-produced bread won’t go properly stale. You’ll need to make the pudding the day before you want to serve it to give it time to set.

1.25kg mixed fresh or frozen berries (I used the traditional mix of half blackcurrants and half raspberries – if using strawberries, hull and slice)
3⁄4 cup caster sugar, or more to taste if the berries are tart
12 slices stale good-quality sliced white sandwich bread, crusts cut off (I bought mine from a bakery then just left the slices out at room temperature for a few hours to make it stale)
300ml cream
150g mascarpone

Put the berries and sugar in a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and to crush the berries slightly. Taste and add more sugar if necessary – it shouldn’t be too sweet. Once it boils, remove from the heat and reserve.

Line a 1.25-litre-capacity bowl with plastic wrap then line the bottom and sides of the bowl with bread, making sure there are no gaps.

Strain 1 cup of the juice from the berries through a sieve and reserve for serving.

Pour the remaining berries and juice into the bread-lined bowl then cover with a layer of bread slices. Top with a plate that’s small enough to press down on the bread – it shouldn’t rest on the edge of the bowl. Weight the plate down – more plates the same size or a large can of fruit will work – then refrigerate overnight.

The next day, mix the cream and mascarpone together gently until smooth (push it through a sieve if necessary so there are no lumps).

Remove the weights from the pudding and turn out into a wide, shallow dish that will catch any juices. Spoon the reserved berry juice evenly over the pudding then serve in wedges with the mascarpone cream.

Wine - A noble riesling.

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