Alexandra Stafford’s book, “Bread Toast Crumbs” (Clarkson Potter, $30) could inspire even the most reluctant baker to spend the day making bread. But my summertime kitchen is hot and the my patio beckons.
I searched the book for a luscious dish that could show off store-bought loaves, a dish that didn’t require firing up the oven.
Near the end of this beautiful tome, there’s a recipe for English Summer Pudding, a scrumptious dessert that is a personal favorite.
Sliced bread soaks overnight with a mix of fresh berries that have been cooked briefly with sugar to release their bountiful juices. Serve it sliced and drizzled with heavy whipping cream or topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
How did I garnish it? Well, sweetened whipping cream along with a sprig of fresh mint and a borage flower from my garden. (Borage grows easily and the flowers taste like a sweet cucumber – making them a great garnish for cocktails.)
English Summer Pudding
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon, about 4 teaspoons
6 cups berries (I like a mix of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries)
Optional: 1 tablespoon Kirsch
About 1/2 loaf best quality sliced white sandwich bread, crust removed, see cook’s notes
For serving: heavy whipping cream (or lightly sweetened whipped cream
Cook’s notes: I use Trader Joe’s Gourmet White Bread. I use a slightly larger loaf pan and it works fine.
1. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt the sugar with lemon juice until sugar has dissolved. Stir in berries. Gently simmer for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring every so often with a light touch, until berries are soft but still many are still whole. Add the Kirsch if using, then remove pan from heat and set aside.
2. Line an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan or 1-quart bowl with plastic wrap, then layer pieces of bread in it, overlapping the slices slightly to prevent gaps. Save some bread for the top.
3. Pour the berries and their juices into the bread lined pan. Top with the reserved bread slices. Cover pan tightly with more plastic wrap and set a heavy weight (such as a couple of cans of tomatoes) on top. If the pan is very full, place it on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any juices. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24.