Enjoy summer berries with the simplicity of summer pudding

If you are looking for a no-cook summer dessert which is both easy to make and good for you, consider summer pudding, an old time English dessert which is an elegant and simple way to enjoy summer fruit. Summer pudding does not need to be refrigerated, so it is a perfect dessert to take to a barbecue.

Summer pudding consists of two basic ingredients, white bread and berries. Traditionally, summer pudding is made with raspberries, but blackberries or boysenberries also work very well.

To make summer pudding, you will need:

1 ½ cups of soft, ripe berries

Sugar to taste

7 or 8 slices of white bread (with crusts removed)

A jelly mould or 1 quart bowl

Note that it is important to use only white wheat bread. Do not substitute whole wheat, multi-grain, or rye bread because it is the absorptive properties of white bread which make this recipe work.

You can use fresh or frozen berries. If you use frozen berries, simply sprinkle sugar on them and let them thaw at room temperature.  Fresh berries will need to be rinsed in cold water. If using blackberries, the best, of course, are wild ones that you pick yourself.  However, wild blackberries, need to be soaked for 15 minutes in a light salt water solution to remove any critters, before rinsing them in clear water to get rid of the salt. 

If you are using fresh berries, put them in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2 minutes so that they will begin to release their juice, then add sugar to sweeten, adjusting the amount of sugar depending on the ripeness of the berries. Sugar-sprinkled, frozen berries will release their juice as they thaw. 

Now for the fun part!

Cut the crusts from the bread and use them to line a medium size bowl or jelly mold. Put the first slice in the bottom of the bowl and lean additional slices around the side, saving two slices for the top of the pudding. Fill the bread-lined bowl with the berry/sugar mixture and any remaining juice, and cover the berries with the other bread slices, cutting them to fit if necessary.

Next, place a plate on top of the pudding and weigh it down with a can from your pantry, and put it in the fridge overnight. As the bread absorbs juice from the berries, it softens and changes, so that it is no longer recognizable as bread. When the bread has turned completely purple with blackberry juice, it is ready to eat.

Vanilla ice cream is a great accompaniment for summer pudding, but unsweetened whipped cream is the absolute best.