If you’re from the USA you most likely wouldn’t picture bread soaked with berry juice as a pudding. Being from the USA myself I found the idea of this British dessert to be ridiculous. I didn’t even try it until I’d lived in the UK for over 7 years. As it turns out, I was missing a good thing! It’s absolutely delicious and really simple to make. In California, we have berries in abundance this time of year and they sell in stores and roadside stands for pretty cheap. If this isn’t the case where you live or you feel like making this out of season, frozen mixed berries work almost as well.
- 2 .5 lb (40 oz) mixed berries of your choice (I used strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and a few cherries)
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 10 slices of good quality stale white bread, crust removed (see notes)
- Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to serve
- Wash and dry the berries, then Cut any large strawberries in half or quarters and keep them separate from the rest of the berries.
- Stir together the sugar and water in a large pot and place it over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring it to a boil for 1 minute without stirring. Then, add all the berries except the strawberries. Turn down the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes, then add the strawberries and cook for 1 minute more.
- Put a sieve over a bowl and pour the whole contents of the pot into the sieve. Leave to cool and drain for 30 minutes.
- Line your pudding basin (see notes) with plastic wrap. Use two or three pieces so it’s well lined and make sure that at least a few inches are overhanging all the way around.
- Find something like a round cup or glass, that is a little smaller size than the bottom of your basin/bowl and cut out a circle of bread to fit. Then cut the remaining bread slices into quarters lengthwise to line the sides of the basin. Dip one side of each cut piece of bread briefly into the berry juice that has collected in the bowl, starting with the round piece for the bottom and then moving onto the sides. The sides should overlap the round piece slightly, as well as each other on the bottom.
- Gently spoon the prepared berries into the bread-lined basin and press down gently. Leave enough room so the berries can be topped with bread.
- Cut and or tear pieces of bread to sort of create a jigsaw puzzle to top the berries. No need to dip the jigsaw pieces in the berry juice, just place them on the berries.
- Pour 1/2 cup of the leftover juice evenly over and then pull the overhanging plastic wrap over to seal the pudding in the basin.
- Place a plate and something on top of it to weight it down on the pudding. I use a small bowl with a little weight to it. You don’t want it squished or bulging, just lightly compacted.
- Put the pudding in the fridge for at least 8 hours, but overnight is better.
- Optionally, whisk in 1 or two teaspoons of cornstarch to the leftover cooled berry juice. Then microwave it or heat it in a pan until it thickens a little like a syrup, not a jelly. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve. You can always skip this and just serve the leftover juice as is.
- When you are ready to serve the pudding, remove the weight and plate, peel back the plastic wrap and place a serving plate over the pudding. Invert it onto the plate and carefully remove the basin and plastic wrap.Slice like you would a cake and serve with the leftover juice poured over, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side.
Makes 6 to 8 Servings
- I use a British pudding basin (pictured right) I bought when I lived in the UK. They sort of look like a cross between a bowl and a plant pot. If you don’t have one, any tall flat bottom bowl that holds 48 ounces of liquid will work. It can be metal, glass or plastic since it doesn’t need to be heat proof. However, it does need to be able to be refrigerated.
- You need stale bread for this, which is basically slightly dried out bread, not crunchy or crumbly bread. If your bread isn’t stale, cut the crusts off the bread and leave them to sit uncovered overnight. I put them in my cold oven before I go to bed.