How to make Summer Pudding
Summer Pudding Recipe - seasonal and simply delicious!
Make the most of those wonderful, tasty and super-healthy summer fruits by making the ever-popular Summer Pudding. Quick, easy and cheap to make, summer pudding looks smashing, is absolutely delicious and is always a great favorite at Les Trois Chenes guest house in South West France.
The history of the pudding is unclear and authentic recipes are rare. It was once a favourite of health spas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (then called “hydropathic pudding”), and now the Summer Pudding remains a simple, economical and refreshing way to make the most of seasonal fruits.
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How would you rate summer pudding?
Summer and autumn fuits straight from the garden
Five good reasons to choose summer pudding
As a rustic cook, I love to use seasonal, home-grown fruit and vegetables, locally produced food and wild food. I love to eat weeds (revenge is sweet!) I'm always trying hard to avoid food waste. Summer pudding scores high on all these points!
- Seasonal - fruit that is freshly picked
- Healthy - these red fruits are super-healthy and have even been called 'superfoods'
- Thrifty - you can use fruits like blackberries gathered from the wild and take advantage of seasonal fruit glut offers. It's a great way to use up old and stale bread.
- Impressive to serve - it looks wonderful. My photos don't do it justice
- It is absolutely gorgeous
Which fruits are best for Summer Pudding?
If you look at the photograph above, you'll see that I've gathered blackberries from the hedgerows, and tiny tomatoes from the garden. This is simply the fruits that I'd picked that morning - not necessarily for the summer pud! Although I wouldn't normally put tomatoes in the summer pudding - you could do just that! Tomatoes are fruits after all.
Traditional fruits for summer pudding are strawberries, raspberries and black currants. You can also add bilberries, red currants, elderberries, blueberries and anything else of that ilk. Cherries are lovely too if you're lucky enough to have a glut.
I would also make summer pudding with blackberries and gooseberries. If I didn't have enough of these fruits, I'd add stewed apples or pears to make up the mixture. Summer pudding is a great, adaptable recipe.
A note about quantities for your pudding
This is a gatherer recipe and a left-over recipe and as such quantities are very flexible. Use the fruit to hand. Gather as many as you need - two handfuls for one person .... so I make more rather than less and eat up any left-overs the following day.
When I say 'left-overs' it makes it sound second rate. Summer pudding, like soup, gets better for keeping a day or two. Freeze it whole, or cut into individual slices to use later.
As for bread, you need enough to line your basin and top your pudding. It depends on the size of your basin and the number of people you are catering for!
If you gather more fruit than you need, cook it and freeze it. That way you can make 'Summer Pudding' all the year round!
- Summer or Autumn berries
- White bread, Sliced
- Sugar, To taste
Kitchen utensils you'll need to make summer pudding
I love this traditional earthenware pudding basin - it's just like my Grandmother used to have. It's perfect for other uses too and ideal for steamed puddings. Dishwasher safe
I love my Creuset casseroles. They are expensive to buy but should last a lifetime if you treat them right. A good investment. They have colorful exterior enamel that is resistant to chipping and cracking. Any casserole will do of course
You need something to stir the fruit with - I like traditional wooden spoons or spatulas, but any spoon will do.
Gently simmer your berries
Gently simmer the berries with sugar and a little water, just enough to cover the base of the pan, just until the berries soften but before they lose their shape. The cooking time would vary according to which fruits you use and how ripe they are. The cooking time doesn't matter too much but you do need the fruits to break down a bit and release juice. I like to cook mine as little as possible as heat destroys the vitimins.
You could keep fresh, uncooked fruit to one side and serve a small portion of pudding with a large portion of raw fruit to get the best of both worlds - indulgent pudding and nutritious fruit.
Taste your mixture to make sure you have the correct amount of sweetness. I like my pudding as tart as I can bear it. I love that acidic tingle you get from blackcurrents. You might like yours sweeter, but remember, the less sugar you use, the fewer calories and the less fattening your pudding will be.
Arrange sliced bread in your basin
Cut the crusts off the slices of bread and then cut into triangles. Place a whole slice in the base of the pudding bowl and then line the sides with the triangles. Fill with the berries leaving about 4cm of bread at the top to fold over.
Use the crusts! Give to children. If they don't like crusts, tell them not to eat them - then they will almost certainly try to steal them. Dry and wizz to make breadcrumbs. Toast and use with dips - tell children they are bread-chips.
Any other ideas?
Fill your bread-lined basin with the stewed fruit
Fill the summer pudding with fruit
Once lined with bread, fill the basin with fruit until it is almost full. Leave enough bread at the top to fold over a bit, ready for it's bread 'lid'. When you have filled with fruit and enough juice to stain the bread red, fold over the top and cover with a slice, (or slices) of bread. Pour over sufficient juice to stain red. Some people like the marbled effect if you don't totally soak the bread with juice, so don't worry if you accidentally achieve that marbled look.
Press down the pudding and chill
Press and chill the summer pudding
Cover the pudding with a plate that is just about the right size to cover the bread, but that will fit inside the basin. Put something on top - I've used a jar of mustard, to press it down gently, then put it in the fridge and chill in the fridge overnight.
Turn out your pudding to serve
Just before serving, slip a knife around the edges of the pudding and turn upside down onto a plate - it should fall out easily and then more or less retain the bowl shape - if not, remember it all goes down the same way!
I have used just a plain whilte plate, but your pudding would look lovely on a special, pretty plate. Because this is a traditional English pudding, I've chosen a few vintage plates from eBay to give you some ideas.
Take a bit of time to decorate your summer pudding too. I haven't decorated mine but you could reserve fruit for decoration, or use fresh, edible flowers.
Cut into slices as if it was a cake.
You can top your summer pudding with so many things
Indulge yourself and serve your summer pud with ice cream, fresh cream, clotted cream, creme fraiche or custard- any other sauce you fancy.
If you like a less sweet, healthier choice or are watching the old calories, use natural yoghurt, or yoghurt mixed with honey. You can also use fruit yogurts or a low-sugar home made custard.
Presentation Being a Rustic Cook, presentation is also very rustic, only partly due to help of son. Might be nice to serve with a fruit sauce nattily streaked over plate.
Here are a few untried ideas: lace with alcohol - creme de Cassis? Friends used Pineau de Charente, a fotified wine local to S W France. Add gooseberries and other fruits. How about doing same with peaches, or rhubarb - will this work??
Try this spicy winter pudding version
At the end of November I took the peaches that I had saved from summer out of the freezer and concocted this winter version of summer pudding. Have a look at the recipe here:
More ideas for traditional pudding recipes
More food links
- BBC - BBC Radio 4 Programmes - Woman's Hour, Christine Rice; Summer Pudding; Emotional Teenage Boys;
Includes how to make the perfect summer pudding by by Cordon Bleu chef and 'kitchen coach' Justine Kanter.
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