December 30, 2011
How did your Christmas go, dear Readers?
Was it chestnuts roasting on an open fire?
Or throwing another shrimp on the barbie?
Well, after days of feasting, its time to let my days be merry and lite, and enjoy something a little less rich but no less yummy than the traditional pudding served this time of year- bring on beautiful berry Summer Pudding.
Summer pudding is a traditional British dessert, first served as a health food in health spas in the 1800's. Much lighter than thick rich pastry, it originally combined slices of bread and lashings of fresh raspberries and red currants so I guess that qualifies it as health food, well at least if its gluten free for me that is.
The berries are either macerated overnight in sugar to get their ruby juices flowing, or heated gently without cooking to achieve the same liquid love.
Thinish slices of bread are then dipped in the juices,kinda like sponge fingers for tiramisu, then used to line a basin to create a shell for the berries.
A bit of squishing overnight transforms soggy bread into berrylicious bounty, fit to serve to those you love, and I promise they will never guess that its "health food".
I've decided to up the ante with my pudding though. Forced to use frozen ones as my berry bushes are still a bit immature, I've added a little extra zing with the addition of Chambord, a delicious black raspberry liquor, and a good dollop of leftover Christmas cranberry jelly to tap into the tartness normally supplied by the red currants. I also sneak in my secret weapon of a tablespoon of arrowroot to ensure my pudding holds together when turned out, instead of tumbling into a delicious but embarrassing mess.
This is another no real cooking, no real measuring recipe. The amounts you need are really dependant on the size of the basin you use. Play it by ear, and just add more as needed.
Summer Berry Pudding
Fresh or frozen berries, enough to well fill your chosen basin
Loaf of nice gluten free bread, whole not sliced
Couple of tablespoons castor sugar
One good tablespoon cranberry jelly
One good tablespoon Chambord
One tablespoon arrowroot powder
One tablespoon water
Place berries, sugar, cranberry sauce and liquor into a saucepan. Heat gently until the berries soften just a little and the juices and sauce meld together into lush loveliness.
Strain the berries thoroughly but without squishing then, keeping all the juices.
Mix the hot juices with the blended arrowroot and water and it will thicken just a little.
Carefully remove the crusts from the load of bread. Make sure you keep these so you can freeze them and use them as crumbs later.
Slice into about half cm slices, but be careful as you know how crumbly gluten free bread can be. Cut a nice round to sit in the top of your basin, then slice the rest of the bread in half into little soldiers.
Line your basin with cooking wrap, I used a freezer bag, try and have it long enough to hang over the edge a little.
Starting with the round bit, dip each piece of bread into the pretty purpliness that is the berry juice, generously soaking them. Line the basin with upright strips. Try and keep your pieces tightly together, but patch with scrappy bits as needed.
Spoon all the berries into the bread lined basin, then top with more bits of soaked bread to cover
Pour any remaining juices over your pudding.
Pull the wrap over the pudding, covering well. Place a heavy weight on your pudding to compress it and make it set firmly.
Leave overnight in the refrigerator.
Un-weigh and uncover the top of your pudding, then carefully invert it onto your serving dish.
Decorate with a few extra berries and maybe some mint leaves for color, then drizzle with any extra juice collected in the plate or left in the bowl.
Cut into nice big wedges and serve with some thick lactose free cream for extra extravagance.
Yummm... Perfect with a nice chilled glass of bubbles, on a hot sticky summers night.
So Dear Readers, do you enjoy a traditional pudding, out would you give something lighter a try?