Okay. So you went to your favourite U-Pick berry farm. That's right. You invited your best friend, or your sister, or some other nice person, and you drove out to the country, to a place like Le Pavillon de la Pomme. Or you called up your best friend, or your sister, or someone else, and you got them to drive you. Either way, you got yourself in those berry fields and you picked and you picked to your heart's delight. No one had to remind you that the berry season is short. No, ma'am. Ain't no way you were gonna miss out on berry picking. You were more than ready. You got yourself "in the zone" and you picked. You picked red currants, you picked gooseberries, you picked blueberries, and you picked raspberries. You even picked those hauntingly beautiful little blush currants you see above in the photograph. You got back home and you had massive amounts of berries. I mean, you were swimmin' in them. You spent a good two or three days just making your berry preserves. And meanwhile you had them with cream, you put some in your morning yogurt, and, yes, you scarfed them down by the handful as-is, just as Nature had intended. You'd had berries every which way but loose, but you still had leftovers. Nice ones. Juicy ones. And that's when you decided there was only one thing to do: make summer pudding. You were tired, after all. A recipe that had only 4 ingredients and required virtually no skill at all (you'd already exhibited plenty while making those preserves) was quite frankly something that appealed to you. So that's what you did, you followed the recipe below and when you unmoulded that gorgeous, vibrant red pudding, topped it with some freshly whipped cream, and garnished it with the last few remaining bunches of berries left from your berry-pickin' extravaganza, you were sure glad you'd come up with such a sensible idea, such a fitting tribute. Seven of your best friends were pretty happy too.
Summer Pudding (serves 8)
1 loaf best white bread
5-6 cups mixed berries, especially red currants and raspberries, but also blueberries, gooseberries, black and blush currants and blackberries
sugar to taste, less is more
lemon juice to taste
Place the berries in a pot and add sugar and lemon juice to taste. Err on the tart side, as you can adjust it later. Bring the berries to a slight simmer, and let them release their juice but don't cook them. You want them to retain their shape. Let cool. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep in mind this should be a tart rather than sweet dessert.
Cut the bread into 1/2" slices and remove the crusts. Line a medium bowl with enough bread to cover the bottom and the sides, slightly overlapping. Ladle half of the berries into the bowl, then top with another layer of bread. Ladle the rest of the berries into the bowl and top with a final layer of bread. Cover with plastic wrap, then place a small plate directly on the top layer of bread and weigh down with something heavy. Chill overnight.
To unmould, remove the weight and plastic wrap, run a spatula between the pudding and the bowl, place a large plate over the top of the bowl and, in one fell swoop, flip the bowl over: the pudding should unmould perfectly onto the plate. Serve as described above: with gently whipped cream and extra berries.
* or The Continuing Adventures of Pudd'nhead Marek