To be honest I couldn’t pick a winner as they all tasted much the same. It’s a testament to the simplicity of this classic that it should taste the same. In its most perfect form there are just three ingredients; bread, sugar and mixed red berries. As long as you keep to the best of those ingredients, it will be a winner. No need for complicated Continental brioche and no place for pappy supermarket sliced white; just stick to fresh made sliced white bread. The exact combination of red berries is unimportant as this is about Harvest.
Take 1 pound of mixed red berries and put into a saucepan with 1 ounce of sugar, bring to the boil and simmer for one minute. Pour the mixture into a sieve (over a bowl) and leave to drain, but do not stir as this will cause the fruit to break up.
Whilst it drains, cut sufficient slices of white bread to line the inside of a pudding bowl. This is the one and only occasion I will let you cut the crusts off! Plunge each slice of white bread into the strained fruit juice and line your basin until completely sealed with this dipped bread. Pack the drained fruit into the belly of the bread lined bowl and top off with sliced dipped bread until all of the fruit is completely concealed. Some people line their pudding bowl with clingfilm which helps when removing.
Find a plate that will sit on top of the pudding, slightly smaller than the circumference of the bowl; then on this plate press the pudding using either some kitchen weights or a couple of tins. Put this in the fridge and leave to stand for at least 24 hours, if not more.
An hour before you need your summer pudding, turn it out onto a plate, and use any of the remaining drained fruit liquor, by painting it onto and over the pudding. This will give it a final sheen and help to make it even more unctuous. Cut into wedges and serve with either pouring cream or crème fraîche.
Director of Food Services