I love the turning of the seasons, and I love the old tradition of celebrating Midsummer on the summer solstice. To me this is high summer, not the beginning of the season.
Another old tradition that’s wonderful for this time of year is Summer Pudding, which is not an American style, custardy pudding, but rather a cousin of British bread puddings. (We will be hearing more about pudding from BVC’s British contingent in future.) Summer pudding is a wonderful, cool dessert that celebrates summer’s bounty of fresh fruit.
Easy Summer Pudding (by Pati Nagle)
This recipe should be made a day ahead, to give the pudding time to set.
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 5 cups mixed summer fruit, washed and drained*
- 8-10 slices bread, crusts removed**
- 1 quart pudding mold (aka Jello mold)***
Combine water and honey in a saucepan and heat until honey is melted and liquid comes just to a boil. Add fruit and cook gently until slightly softened (not mushy!), stirring continuously. Fresh fruit will cook down a bit. Remove from heat. Line pudding mold with crustless bread. You can cut the slices in half diagonally to make triangles, which can then be used to make a star pattern in a round mold. Make sure there are no gaps in the bread. Fill mold with fruit and juice. Top with more bread. Weigh down with saucer and a can of vegetables. Let stand until cool, then refrigerate overnight.
When you’re ready to serve the pudding, make fresh whipped cream. If you’re feeling really fancy, make some baked dried currants (8 minutes at 300 degrees F) to sprinkle over the cream. Pick fresh mint for garnish if you have it. Take pudding out of refrigerator, remove saucer, put serving plate over mold and turn over. It should unmold right away, but if not leave it sit a minute. Remove mold, spoon whipped cream on top of pudding, and garnish. Cut slices as you would a cake, and serve with extra whipped cream on the side.
*I use raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and chopped strawberries. You can also use currants, gooseberries, cherries, etc. For a super-easy shortcut, buy frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries), thaw them, and add some extra blueberries to increase sweetness.
**I run a rolling pin lightly over my bread, which makes it easier to manipulate into the mold.
***I use a copper mold, but you can use anything including a mixing bowl.