A summer pudding should only ever have raspberries and redcurrants. No blueberries. No blackberries. And never strawberries. They are the most offensive. They don’t bring much of anything, and certainly no acid. The thing about summer pudding is to match sweetness and tartness, and a strawberry has little of either. It’s about concentration of flavour: strawberries often don’t have any.
With a summer pudding, you want a bit of a gobsmack, a good British term. The tartness is balanced by clotted cream and a small amount of sugar.
Redcurrants are only ever available at the start of summer, which really restricts when this pudding can be made. It is a harbinger of the season. On a glass platter it can be quite stately and even Victorian.
It is the only use I have for redcurrants, to be honest. I might throw a handful into a Cumberland sauce – a combination of port, orange and lemon and mustard powder, served with meats – to give it a little punch. But that’s about it.
Raspberries, though, I can talk about for a while. Look for a good-sized variety with a balance of acid to sweetness. I enjoy the Willamette, and the Chilliwack, which is perfect for cooking.
I never wash raspberries. They absorb too much liquid and become fragile and pulpy. I prefer to use them straight from the punnet.
What I like about raspberries over other types of berries is their floral flavour. While I love them fresh, I also make a cordial from frozen raspberries. First, I make a sugar syrup with 500 grams of frozen raspberries, 250 grams of castor sugar and 150 millilitres of lemon juice. This is brought to a boil and cooled once the raspberries have collapsed. After straining, I mix it with iced soda water, sometimes with a single drop of rose water in each glass. The syrup keeps in the fridge, and it makes for a healthier pink lemonade than the old fire truck.
The only thing that makes this summer pudding recipe resemble a pudding is the bowl it’s formed in. It’s clean, fresh and light. Any leftovers can make quite a sneaky, guilt-free breakfast. I love a bit of summer pudding the following day. I think there’s probably less sugar in a plate of this than in a bowl of cereal.
The summer pudding has been tarted up over the years. People use brioche or sponge. Being a purist, I always go for the Tip Top sandwich loaf.
2012 Cascina Fonda moscato d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy ($23)
– Mark Williamson, sommelier, Cumulus Inc
- 2 punnets redcurrants, stalks removed
- 4 tbsp castor sugar
- 1kg frozen or fresh raspberries
- ½ loaf white sandwich bread, crusts removed
- Place the redcurrants and sugar, along with three tablespoons of water, in a stainless-steel saucepan. Over high heat, bring to a simmer and cook until the redcurrants look like they are melting. This will take only a few moments. Add the raspberries, stir well, and cook for three minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the berries to cool for 10 minutes.
- Line a medium-sized pudding bowl with cling film, allowing the edges to overhang a little. Then line the bowl with the slices of bread, overlapping them and sealing well by pressing the edges together. Take care not to leave any gaps for the berries to escape through.
- Spoon the berries and most of their juice into the bread-lined bowl and cover the top with more slices of overlapping bread, to make
- a lid of sorts. Reserve any extra berry juice for serving.
- Cut away any bread that may be poking up the sides of the pudding. Spoon some of the reserved berry liquid over the pudding and seal the top with a piece of cling film. Place a saucer or plate that fits inside the rim of the pudding bowl on top and press down firmly. The liquid should ooze up the sides. Place a heavy object on top (a one-litre carton of milk or a few cans works well) and refrigerate overnight.
- The following day, remove the top piece of cling film and invert the pudding onto a serving plate. Cut into slices and serve with a bowl of lightly whipped cream.