Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer bread pudding is berry fine

Our blueberry bush in the back yard is finally producing. Each morning we go out to gather a few dozen berries to top our morning cereal. The nice thing is that they’re not coming ripe all at once – just enough to keep whetting our appetite for more.

This is definitely fresh berry season here in New England. We remember gathering blueberries in the woods on a misty Cape Cod morning as a child. And in Maine, those small, sweet delightful blues, are irresistible. Here in Rhode Island, although strawberry season has finished, it’s time to gather fragrant red raspberries at local farms. I love to enjoy these fresh berries just eaten out of hand. But if there are more than you can eat, you can make them into a luscious dessert, or freeze them to use later.

To freeze fresh berries, just put them on a layer on a tray in the freezer, and freeze until firm, then pop them into a freezer bag to use later in pancakes, pies, or cobblers. Or, sneak ‘em into your favorite fruit bread pudding. Here’s another no-bake summer pudding that’s ready for next-day eating.


2 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
1 pint fresh raspberries
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 pint fresh blackberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
8 slices potato bread (stale), challah, or other good-quality white bread (see note)

Heat strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and sugar in large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries begin to release their juice and sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon juice; let cool to room temp.
While berries are cooking, spray 9x5-inch loaf pan with vegetable cooking spray. Remove crusts from bread slices and trim them to fit in single layer in loaf pan (it will take approximately 2-1/2 slices to form 1 layer). Line loaf pan with plastic wrap. Make sure plastic wrap lies flat against surface of pan, leaving no air space.
Place loaf pan on rimmed cookie sheet and use slotted spoon to place about 2 cups fruit into bottom. Lightly soak enough bread slices for 1 layer in juice and place on top of fruit. Repeat with 2 more layers of fruit and bread. Top with remaining juices, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and weight with a second cookie sheet and several heavy cans. Refrigerate pudding for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.
Remove weights, cookie sheet, and plastic wrap. To unmold, invert onto platter; lift off loaf pan; remove plastic wrap and serve. Serves 6 to 8.
Per Serving: Cal 170; Fat 1.5 g; Sat fat 0 g; Chol 0 mg; Carb 40 g; Protein 3 g; Fiber 5 g; Sodium 140 mg(Note: Stale the bread for this recipe by leaving it out overnight. Otherwise, put the slices on a rack in a single layer into a 200-degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes, turning them once halfway through. If you use challah, the second choice for bread, cut it into 1/2-inch-thick slices. If neither potato bread nor challah is available, use a good-quality white sandwich bread with a dense, soft texture. To ensure that this larger pudding unmolds in one piece, use a greased loaf pan lined with plastic wrap. Whipped cream is the perfect accompaniment to summer pudding.)
(Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, July/1999. To view illustrated instructions, visit

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