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!