Most recipes for this traditional British dessert — sweetened berries encased in bread — barely qualify as cooking. So why is it so hard to get it right?
Summer berry pudding is more common in the United Kingdom than in the United States, but given the success of sticky toffee pudding, we say that we're due for another British invasion. To make it, a pudding mold — or often simply a bowl — is lined snugly with crustless bread, filled with lightly sweetened and cooked berries, and topped with a bread "lid." The pudding is compressed for some 8 hours with weights before it's inverted and unmolded. During the wait (and the weight), the berry juices permeate the bread, making for a sliceable magenta sweet that's a homey paean to summer.
For our version of this traditional British dessert, we use four different kinds of berries — blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries — and we only cook a portion of them in order to retain the freshness of the fruit. To avoid a soggy pudding, we drain the berries and use the sweet juices to moisten the bread. Rich, eggy challah is the best choice for this dessert, and "staling" it in the oven makes it even sturdier. To prevent the pudding from slumping, we thicken the filling with a combination of unflavored gelatin and apricot preserves.
Keep reading for the Summer berry pudding recipe.