Three factors went into the creation of this super easy English Summer Pudding.
- I was a greedy cherry monster. I saw fresh cherries for $.99/lb at my local grocery, and I went a little nuts. There is no way I could go through 7 pounds before they turned, so half went into the freezer, a bunch went into my morning oats, and I had to come up with a way to use up the rest.
- I wanted to turn my leftover white bread into something yummy. Once a year–and only once–I buy a loaf of white bread. It is just a necessity when making the first tomato sandwiches of the season. As a general rule, I am not an advocate for white bread…not by a long shot…but I am also not an advocate for throwing away food if it can be used. So again, I had to find a way to use it up.
- My husband loves fruity desserts. While I will choose all things chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, etc., he is a fan of lemon, lime, berries and, lucky day, cherries! And he’s been reallllly patient with my computer time lately, and he didn’t even balk when I bought a package of mustache-shaped silly bandz. He’s a good egg, that one.
So my wheels got to turnin’, and I put together the simplest of English Summer Puddings.
This classic English dessert is pretty simple. It’s basically a molded dessert made by lining a bowl with the bread of your choice, preferable white (I’ve seen recipes call for brioche), then filled with sugared fruit that has been cooked down until the liquid turns into a bit of a sweet syrup. By the time it’s unmolded, the bread soaks up the juice and transforms into a sweet, jewel-toned pudding that opens to reveal a treasure of berries inside. (Think lava cake, but with berries.)
I don’t believe this is a proper summer pudding, as those are made with raspberries (correct me if I’m wrong on that…) but I had cherries, and it worked out just fine. I also only made small portions in individual ramekins rather than the traditional bowl-shaped pudding. We just didn’t need quite that many servings.
The method? Sooooo easy… (it took exactly 20 minutes to prepare.)
- I pitted enough cherries that, when cooked down a little, would fill my two ramekins. 2 cups, maybe?
- I heated the cherries in a medium saucepan (keeping a small handful aside), along with about a cup of water, a couple tablespoons of sugar and a dash of vanilla.
- While the cherries cooked, I lined 2 ramekins with plastic wrap, then used a wine glass to cut a round piece of bread for the bottom of each. I then cut pieces of bread, no crusts, and lined the edges of the ramekins.
- Once the cherries were nice and soft and the liquid reduced a bit (about ten minutes), I removed them from the heat and strained them. I spooned a little of the cherry-vanilla juice over the bread, mixed my cooked cherries with my reserved uncooked ones (for texture), and spooned them into the ramekins.
- Finally, I cut a piece of bread big enough to cover the top of each ramekin, covered it with plastic wrap, and set a glass on each one to provide weight and help the juices soak into the bread. Both went into the fridge overnight, only to be rediscovered the next day, transformed from mere white bread and spare fruit into a fragrant pink delight!
Healthy? I don’t know how to feel about that. White bread sure isn’t healthy, but cherries are pretty darned good for you. Given the low fat content, limited ingredients and the fact that I cut the sugar way down, I feel pretty OK about this one. It is dessert, after all, and it could have been worse, right?
Besides, sometimes the ‘healthiest’ thing you can do is spoil your husband a little with a dessert designed just for him.
Have you ever made an English Summer Pudding?
What are your thoughts on white bread? Do you ever buy it? Are there certain occasions when only white bread will do?