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Recipe Reveal: Cheers to the Royal Baby, Summer Berry Pudding


Thanks to the British for inventing Summer Berry Pudding.

Congratulations to Prince William and Duchess Kate on the birth of their baby boy. In their honor, I’d like to make something British. Berries are plentiful right now and it’s still too hot to bake, so how about a Summer Berry Pudding aka English Summer Pudding, which requires no baking.

The basic concept for Summer Berry Pudding is pretty straightforward. The traditional British version calls for fresh black currants and other berries sweetened with sugar then poured over sliced white bread in a bowl. The mixture is refrigerated and then unmolded to serve. It’s kind of like a lazy shortcake that does nothing but sit around and soak up juices. I know some guys like this. But say no more.

I can’t leave well enough alone with any recipe, so I made some adjustments to the basic recipe for English Summer Pudding. First, by necessity, fresh black currants were out. I could not find them at the store, so I used a mixture of fresh and frozen berries — raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries I picked last month and kept frozen.

I added lemon juice and grated lemon rind to the berries and a tiny bit of Grand Marnier for a little orange flavor.

Finally, I decided to swap out the white bread. The idea of juice-soaked white bread didn’t appeal to me, so I considered other bases instead. Brioche Bread was my first choice, but I couldn’t find it anywhere and making a loaf would go against the no-bake idea. Another possibility was Challah Bread, which is richer than white bread and has more flavor, my grocery store carries it, so that was a contender. I also considered angel food cake and pound cake.

Ultimately I decided on ladyfingers! Dense Italian Savoiardi ladyfingers. They did the trick and absorbed a lot of the berry juices. The interiors of the ladyfingers that weren’t soaked all the way through turned spongy, like spongecake. The flavor was good, not as mushy as bread, and they went well with the fruit.

Only a few steps to this recipe. Cook the berries and sugar just enough to get them juicy, dip the ladyfingers in some of the juice, layer, refrigerate 24 hours and then unmold. Easy peasy as the delightful Brits might say. So cheers to the royal baby!

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Summer Berry Pudding

This recipe makes enough for a large 10-inch bread/loaf pan, with some berries leftover.
You can use fresh or frozen fruit or a combination thereof, and any berries you like. Someday, I must try black currants.

2 cups strawberries rinsed, hulled, and sliced
2 cups raspberries
2 cups blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier (optional)
One package Italian Ladyfingers

1. Heat strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, lemon juice, lemon rind, and sugar in large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries begin to release their juice and sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. Let cool to room temperature (Can chill in refrigerator to speed it up).

2. Line a 10-inch or 9-inch loaf pan with two pieces of plastic wrap, one going lengthwise, the other going widthwise, with a couple inches overhang.

3. After berries cool, pour about 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup of just the berry juice into a glass pie pan for dipping the ladyfingers.

4. Quickly dip both sides of ladyfingers into the juice and place them across the bottom of the loaf pan. Cut the lady fingers if needed to fill the ends of the pan. Cover the first layer of lady fingers with about two cups of fruit and juice. Repeat with another layer of dipped ladyfingers, followed by another hefty layer of fruit and juice. Top with another layer of dipped lady fingers and pour some juice over the top. (Enjoy any leftover berries on their own or over ice cream).

5. Fold the plastic wrap over to cover the top. Put a narrow plate on top (cut a paper or plastic plate to size if you need to), then put a weight on top of the plate (I used a can of soup in foil).

6. Refrigerate up to 24 hours. Remove weight, and open plastic wrap. To unmold, invert onto serving platter. Lift off loaf pan, remove plastic wrap and serve with whipped cream.


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