time for summer pudding

marionberries

These are marionberries, and below are olallieberries. See the difference?

olallieberries

It’s difficult. The olallieberries are slightly longer. (And the family tree of berry cultivars is fascinating, if you’re into that kind of thing.)

I wanted to wait until after the July holidays of American and French independence before posting about my favorite summer dessert that begins white, bleeds red, and sometimes turns bluish-purple, all while being quite British: summer pudding.

summer pudding of marionberries and olallieberries

Put simply, summer pudding is quality bread soaked in tart berry juice, traditionally currants. At this moment in the summer, the dark berries at farmers’ markets are perfect—go for any in the blackberry family, and red or white currants.

I like to do these as individual summer puddings in ramekins of four or six ounces (or small bowls of that size); you’ll need a pint of berries for each one and a nice large brioche loaf or pain de mie will do for four to six puddings.

To make: Start by lining each ramekin with plastic wrap while simmering all the berries (try to include a few different types) and adding a tablespoon of sugar for each pint in a large saucepan for five minutes, until the berries break down and release liquid.

Spoon a tiny bit of juice at the bottom of each lined ramekin, then fit bread slices (crusts off, sliced into half-inch thick lengths) in a single layer at the bottom.

Cover with fruit and juice, add a layer of bread, add fruit and juice, then a layer of bread, and more fruit and juice on the top.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight with a weight on top of each to smush it properly (large tomato jars work well).

summer pudding of marionberries and olallieberries

Unmold and serve with whipped cream, if you like, and a little additional syrup (in case you missed spots with juice).

I find people who dislike dessert like these because the puddings are less sweet and somewhat of an acquired taste, harder to love than the ubiquitous desserts of strawberries and blueberries in their customary dousing of sugar, and well worth the effort—

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