Summer Pudding is a classic British dessert. It’s a delightfully delicious way to use summer’s fresh berries.
The year and a half I spent in London, I worked at a couple of different places. Nearly every Saturday I would take the tube from my flat just off Sloane Square, to Wimbledon, where the catering company I worked for was located. We did a lot of weddings and I would spend the morning helping cook whatever food we hadn’t prepared the night before. Then I’d finish making the summer pudding desserts that we would be serving as an alternate dessert to the actual wedding cake. (This post was originally posted on August 3, 2011 and has been updated with nutritional information and contains affiliate links.)
What is a Summer Pudding?
If you’ve ever seen or had a traditional British wedding cake, you need a chisel and hammer to break through the royal icing. It dries rock hard, to protect the fruit cake that is below the surface. The word “pudding” in Britain has a completely different meaning than it does in the United States. Pudding simply refers to any dessert, and it does not have to be custard based like it is in the US.
Summer pudding is just fruit cooked with a little sugar, poured into a bread lined mold, and refrigerated overnight.
We used empty, 5 pound sized coffee cans and round bowls to make the puddings. On Saturday mornings I would whip cream, sugar coat jewel-like red currants, and decorate the puddings. I’ve never seen red currants in any grocery store in Los Angeles, so I finish mine with more fresh berries. A traditional Summer Pudding is not covered in whipped cream, but since these were for weddings and other events, each one was decorated like a miniature cake.
While this is a super easy dessert to make, you do need to prepare it a day in advance. For my gluten and grain free friends, I reserve a portion of the cooked berries before filling the mold and serve with fresh whipped cream. While it sounds odd, stale bread is used as a base to hold the fruit. Surprisingly, you can’t actually taste the bread as it absorbs all the fruit and juices. Gluten free bread can be used as well!
Line a 1 1/ to 2 quart bowl with sliced white bread, trimming to fit. Fill with fresh cooked berries. Top mold with additional bread to seal the “pudding”. Cover pudding and weight down with something heavy if you don’t have a traditional pudding basin. (You can see I don’t, so I use a disk from my food processor and heavy cans). Un-mold pudding on to a serving platter.
Top with fresh whipped cream. I use a fork for the outside of the summer pudding, adding a few whipped cream swirls and a few more fresh berries.
Gluten and grain free version!
Whenever I make this dessert, I always make sure to save a bit of the fruit for an easy grain and gluten free dessert.
Some of the items used in this post are available at my Amazon Affiliate store at no additional cost to you.
Classic British Summer Pudding
- 3 1/2 cups berries strawberries, blackberries, raspberries or a combination of all three,
- 1/3 cup sugar (Swerve may be used for a lower carb version)
- 10 slices white bread crusts removed (amount will vary depending on the slice of the bread)
- 1 pint whipping cream
- 3 Tbl. sugar (or swerve)
- 1/2 tsp. of vanilla
- Line a bowl (I used a 1 1/2 quart pyrex bowl) with sheets of plastic wrap so that you'll be able to easily unmold the pudding.
- Trim the crusts of the bread slices and butter them on one side. Line the mold with the bread slices, cutting to fit all the gaps, buttered side toward the bowl.
- In a saucepan, add berries and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for about 10 minutes, just until sugar dissolves and berries release their juices.
- Fill the mold with the berries all the way to the top. (The pudding will be pressed and shrink a bit)
- Top the berries with more buttered bread slices until the entire pudding is encased.
- Cover with plastic wrap, and a plate that's slightly smaller than the bowl. Weigh the plate down with some cans and refrigerate overnight.
- Whip the cream until peaks form with sugar and vanilla.
- Cover the whole pudding with the whipped cream. Finish with berries and mint.
- To serve, just scoop it like a trifle or ice cream.
- Serves about 10 to 12 depending on how big your portions are. I usually make it when I'm going to have a big crowd.
Looking for more classic British desserts? Check out my related posts below!
Thanks Fabiola, it makes great use of summer berries!
Steph @ Steph in Thyme says
This is so cool looking! I’ve never heard of this kind of dessert before, enjoyed reading your post and learning all about it. Sounds and looks so good!
Thanks Steph…I made hundreds of these when I was working at the catering company!
Matt @ Plating Pixels says
Sounds like a great summer treat. Great tips on weighing it down and infusing it with flavor
Thank you Matt. This is the main dessert (after the traditional british wedding cake) we served when I worked for a catering company in London. I made hundreds of these, so I had a lot of practice!
Jocelyn (Grandbaby cakes) says
This pudding is just wonderful!!
Julie @ Willow Bird Baking says
This sounds sooo delicious!
Love is what you deserve! Regards from Costa Rica, your recipies are beyond great!!! Thank you for this fantastic place!
mimi rippee says
This is so perfect for summer. I still get confused about all desserts being called pudding!!!
yeah, “pudding” is just another word for dessert. Has nothing to do with an American pudding/custard.
I love how there are so many berries used in this dessert. It looks super pretty and yummy too.
Cynthia Nicoletti says
Looks so good I just love blueberries. What a great dessert to make for the summer.
yes! It uses lots of berries!
This pudding looks so delicious!!! I would love to bake one this weekend, i actually can’t wait. Thanks a lot
Primetime Chaos says
I’m loving all these recipes I am finding through all my blog groups – so creative and fantastic for all the summer parties I am hosting.
Mama Maggie's Kitchen says
This Classic British Pudding looks so deliciously good. I wish I could eat that right this minute!
Jessica may says
This looks delightful! I love a great recipe that helps use up berries, this one is perfect!
Wow now this looks so good! Next month I’m attending a family gathering and I need to try making this for my family to try out.
Shannon Gurnee says
This looks like a delicious dish! I would love to try this sometime.
Gervin Khan says
I have never heard of this dessert before but I can say that this pudding recipe of yours look really delicious and I would love to try it at home.
Well the word “pudding” in England means an entirely different thing than it does in the US. It’s just another word for dessert!
Sondra Barker says
This looks like a great twist on pudding! I would dig in to this dish in two seconds! Thanks for sharing -Sondra Barker @cuisineandtravel.com
Actually, it’s not “pudding” as we know in the US. The English use the word “pudding” the same way we use the word “dessert”.
I’m so intrigued at the British Wedding Cake! How unique! This summer pudding dessert looks absolutely beautiful, Cynthia and right up my alley. I love fruit desserts for the warmer season and this is sure hit.
The British wedding cakes are traditionally covered in royal icing which dries rock-hard. Not my favorite, which is probably why we always had this as a dessert as well.
Yum this looks like a nice dessert to have. I’ve never had it before so I’ll have to look into making it myself one of these days!
It’s very popular in England in the summer!
Alexandra Cook says
OMG Can I just say, I can’t help but drool over the picture! Who would not love to taste this!
Thank you! It’s as good as it looks!
Yeah Lifestyle says
I have never tried making a summer pudding before but your recipe is so easy to follow so I might give this a go
It is easy! It just takes a bit of time on the back end.
This sounds so delightful! I need to try and make this soon.
Delightful is a good word for it!
This looks delicious! My kids love enjoying treats that have berries. Such a great idea for a summer party.
Me too! So much lighter!
Simply great! I really love this classic British recipe. Thanks Cynthia for sharing this lovely dessert.
Am watching Father Browm and Mrs. McCarthy is making her Summer pudding. Looks like it will look like yours. Yum!
How fun! I’ll have to watch. A lot of summer pudding recipes, especially those just for serving at home do not have whipped cream on top. Mine is decorated as we served them for weddings and
special events at the catering company I worked for in London.