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Late summer pudding

A dish that insists on Real Bread as it just turns factory slices to slime.

Despite annual attempts of foodies to revive summer pudding, it seems reluctant to make the jump from restaurant menus and glossy weekend supplements into people’s homes.  Well, here’s my little contribution to the cause of this leftover loving, credit crunching, easy peasy classic, stretching its season well into the autumn.

The following ingredients list is a suggestion.  The joys of summer pudding are that you can chuck in more or less whatever fruit you have to hand and that it gives full honours to the squishy or otherwise past their ‘best.’  The measures are pretty approximate, too. Please don’t go racing out at 8pm to the local petrol station to buy an over-priced punnet of plastic strawberries, just because you think a 20g shortfall will ruin your pud – it won’t.  

The bread needs to be a close-textured (sorry, chewy, bubbly sourdough fans) type, such as a sandwich loaf or brioche.  Though purists may frown, you could stray towards brown, though wholemeal can overpower the fruit.

Serves 4, possibly with leftovers

Ingredients all in season – this dish requires no imports

300-400g Real Bread (see note above) in slices about 1-2cm thick
500g (ish) fruit, such as strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, plums, elderberries or blackberries. Earlier in the year, you could try cherries or rhubarb
1 apple or pear – cooking or eating variety (optional)
100g sugar or 1 tbs honey (or to your taste)
A splash (sorry, a tablespoon or two) of water or apple juice

You also need a bowl, pudding basin or mould that holds about 600ml/1 pint or four smaller bowls/moulds that hold this in total.


Cut away any mouldy or brown bits from the fruits and remove their stalks, hulls, stones, pits, as appropriate. Cut smaller berries in half and quarter or slice the larger ones, such as strawberries, with the peeled apple/pear in 1cm chunks.

Heat the berries with a splash of water/juice in a saucepan over a medium heat until they start to break down and give out their juice but stop before they turn to mush.  This should take about five minutes.  Taste the mixture.  You want it to have a bit of sharpness but if it’s not quite sweet enough for you, add the sugar or honey a little at a time until it’s to your taste.

Alternatively, put the cut fruit into a bowl, sprinkle with sugar and leave in the fridge overnight to draw out the juice.

From one of the slices of bread, cut a circle big enough to line the bottom of your bowl (or several circles, if using small bowls).  Cut enough bread into strips, triangles or whatever other shapes you fancy to line the sides of the bowl without any gaps. Reserve enough to cover the top of the bowl, once it’s filled with fruit.

Pour the fruit mixture in the bowl, then top with enough bread to cover without any gaps.

Put a saucer, plate or lid that’s just smaller than the top of the bowl on top of the pudding and weigh down (e.g. with a tin or ½ kg weight) before placing in the fridge.  It should take about four hours for the bread to soak up the juices but it can sit quite happily overnight or 24 hours.

To serve

Remove the saucer, place a plate over the bowl, hold the two together tightly and turn them upside down.  Carefully slide the bowl up off the pudding.

Works a treat with a drizzle or dollop of cream, cold custard or yoghurt.

© 2009 Chris Young for