Tuesday, July 20, 2010

berry summer pudding

slice of summer pudding
there have been several times
since starting the blog
that i've been more than
grateful for the name
i assigned this space over
two years ago - originally wanting
to title my journal whatever it
would become: something
that was appropriate,
true and with a back story.

and, not lazy. rustic.
has been good to me on
many occasions - but never,
i think so much as right now,
thanks to this funky looking
summer pudding.
it looks bad. i know.
did you consider not even
reading the recipe when you
saw the picture?
wait until you see the one
below - it was almost enough
to make me not write about it.
but then something happened
that changed my mind:
i had a bite.
and it was too good not to
talk about.

i feel like over the course of my
writing here, i have not
necessarily been fair to the
magazine that i used to work for.
it's true - i had a hard time there
in many ways for many years.

but, that job gave me a lot
of things that i would be a fool
to not recognize:

it gave me amazing friends
who are an important part of
my life in many ways.

it made me realize that i wanted
to always work in a field that
involved food in some way.

my experiences were a major impetus in my
decision to go to culinary school.

it taught me to be tough and
believe in myself just a little bit.

it - i think - made me a better boss,
in my current position
than i would have been without
those tough experiences.

and, most relevant today, working
at the magazine taught me about
summer pudding.

i had never heard of summer pudding
before the day that i walked up to the
text kitchen for our daily tasting, at least
seven years ago. my mom made a lot of
bread pudding while i was growing up, but i had never
had this cold version, made without
vanilla or milk or even eggs, and instead
several pints of berries.

in fact, when i first took i bite,
i had no idea that bread was even part of
the dessert. it was purple - fresh and sweet -
and somehow - it all clung together.
i thought there must be gelatin.
but, no, our test kitchen director, said.
no gelatin, just natural pectin from the
blueberries that are released when
simmered together.

i was in love.
and the best part was this - magazines work
months ahead of time. for a recipe to get on
the page, it has to be conceptualized, tested several
times until it's perfect, recreated for the camera,
written about, edited and sent to press. so it
is quite normal to start working on halloween in
april or may. i often made promises to myself that
when the recipe was in season, i would make it
at home. i think that maybe happened three times.
in six years.

instead, almost every summer we published
a variation - sometimes using
only raspberries or a combination of
every berry you could think of, sometimes
the bread was layered between the fruit
and other times the puddings were formed
as minis in little ramekins instead of one
large souffle dish.

every year i promised myself i would make
one at home. but, you already know that i
never did. then this year, i was talking to
my friend and he mentioned that his wife
was going to make a berry trifle - i'm not
sure why, but that triggered my memory.
summer pudding was on.

i knew that although the flavors meld
together creating one super berry,
i wanted to only use
strawberries and blueberries,
my favorite of the berries. unfortunately,
all of my copies of the magazine
are packed away, so i needed to find
a recipe calling for just those two
from somewhere else. as often happens,
epicurious is my best friend,
and it featured a recipe from
bon appetit for
so, i picked out gorgeous ruby red
strawberries and huge, plump
hearty white bread
larry and i scoured the bread aisle
in search of a "hearty white bread,"
wanting to make sure that the dessert
was not gummy, but also, that
the juice would seep through to the
bottom as it sat overnight.

the recipe specifically said
pepperidge farm and i decided
this was not the time to be
creative, so i picked up the firmest
loaf the brand provided.
larry mashing strawberries
blueberries and sugar
simmered blueberries
the evening i was making this,
we had dinner plans and i had
to move fast. while i sliced
the strawberries, larry
measured out blueberries.
after larry took a fork away from
me and started breaking down the strawberries
with a masher (um, hello, brooke), i
simmered and stirred the blueberries.
while i lined the bowl with bread slices,
larry played odb and jay-z on itunes.
ok, maybe something went a little wrong
there, but at least he was still in
the kitchen with me.
bread-lined bowl
the bread lining. i knew it wouldn't be
beautiful. it involved straight lines,
perfect fits. in some ways, i was very proud
of the job i did. in other ways, i knew
i should have done better. i looked at it this
way: there was a bowl, it was lined with bread.
simmered blueberries and strawberry puree
bread topped
i poured in the blueberry and strawberry
mixture and covered with the top layer of bread.
i covered it with plastic wrap, grabbed a plate
that was slightly smaller than the bowl and tried
to top it with four pounds of canned goods,
which was the hardest part of this whole thing.

then, i spent the next 24 hours
watching it, adjusting the placement of
the cans, switching out the tiny plate for
a large plate and sometimes, just pushing
on it myself. i could see that only select
spots were turning purple, instead of the
entire thing. it wasn't looking good.
trying to weigh down the pudding
but, it was what i made and i refused
to turn my back. just before dessert,
i tossed heavy cream in a bowl
with sour cream and beat them together,
adding a few shakes of confectioners' sugar.
mmm, delicious. if nothing else,
everyone could eat this tangy whipped cream
by the spoonful.

next, i unmolded the pudding.
the good news was that it worked:
the dessert held its shape, instead
of collapsing into a heap, spilling
everywhere, as could have happened.
the bad news was that it looked like this:
summer pudding (yikes)
i stared at it.
my mom walked over and told me,
as moms do, that she was sure it would
still taste great. oh well.
to my surprise, it actually cut into wedges.
and even more to my surprise,
everyone really seemed to enjoy this
ugly, ugly dessert:
bursting with berries,
sweet and fresh.
just like i remembered.
berry summer pudding
adapted from bon appetit magazine
next time i try this, i'm considering three things: the first would be to strain the berry mixture slightly, reserving the juices to pour over the top in case berries don't seep through, again. my other two thoughts would be to either, gently dip the bread into the simmered berries to get a jumpstart or to just mix the bread in with the berries, instead of layering it on the bottom (but, i'm not so sure that one would work). or, if i decide to just embrace the tie-dyed look, i could make it the same way all over again.

the original recipe called for buttering the bread before adding the fruit, but i've never seen a summer pudding recipe call for butter and it seemed unnecessary, so i left it out.

2 pounds strawberries, hulled and sliced
6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
pinch of salt
1 pound of blueberries (about 3 heaping cups)
12 slices firm white bread, crusts removed

in large bowl using potato masher, mash strawberries, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt into a puree.

in medium saucepot over medium heat, stir together blueberries and remaining sugar 7 minutes, or until sugar dissolves and the blueberries start to release their juices. increase heat to high and bring to a boil; boil 5 minutes, or until mixture thickens slightly, stirring often. remove from heat. stir in strawberry mixture. set aside.

line 6-cup bowl with three sheets of plastic wrap, leaving at least a six-inch overhang. line bowl with bread, cutting slices to cover bowl completely. pour in berry mixture. top with remaining bread slices. fold plastic wrap over bread. place plate over bowl. (just a note: the recipe instructed to use a slightly smaller plate than the open bowl, but after a few hours, it just didn't make much sense to me, so i switched to a larger plate. that still didn't work, but at least i felt better about my chances.) weigh down with 4 pounds of canned goods or dried beans. chill at least 12 hours.

to serve, i blended together heavy cream, two spoonfuls of sour cream and a couple shakes of confectioners' sugar until peaks formed. i didn't measure - sometimes there just isn't a reason to. once the cream was whipped, i unwrapped the plastic wrap and unmolded onto a plate. the pudding cut into wedges, but i was prepared to scoop, if necessary.

note: my sisters, who ate the leftovers a couple days later said it was even better after a few days of sitting. they also mentioned that the bread did turn purple. small victories, i guess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've never seen anything like this before! And it does in fact boggle the mind. I loved your piped whipped cream, really neat looking.