I hope that everyone had a safe and happy Fourth of July and that the wrath of Mother Nature subsided a little bit so that you could enjoy the holiday. What's with her lately anyhow? Horrible fires in the west. Power outages and extreme heat in the east. She's been in a consistently bad mood so far this summer. Was it something that we said?
My brother, who lives in Utah, even had to evacuate his house over the holiday due to the fires. Per his emails, the firefighters worked tirelessly to get the damage under control. So, I'm sending them all a virtual shout-out of much deserved acknowledgement (because, you know, I am certain that each and every Utah firefighter reads Peanut Butter and Julie religiously.)
Now that Indepence Day has passed, we have another big event to look forward to at the end of the month. No, I'm not referring to the season finale of The Bachelorette. That's the second biggest event, silly.
I'm referring to the London Olympics.
I'm one of those people who gets really into the Olympics, which comes as just as much of a surprise to me as it probably does to those of you who know that I am not exactly what you would call a "natural athlete." Despite the fact that I am unfamiliar with most of the key athletes before the trials start, I know most of their names, stats, and backstories by the time the trials have finished. Eric loves watching the trials (well, except for gymnastics), so even if I am in the kitchen and only half listening to what is on T.V., I seem to absorb all of the pertinent information, and I am hooked.
This recipe is in honor of the two big events flanking the month of July 2012. It's a red, white, and blue dessert in honor of the 4th, but it's a traditional English summer sweet in honor of the London Olympics. I suppose it's my dessert version of a Glee mash-up. Summer puddings are similar to bread puddings, but instead of a custard, the brioche soaks up a spiked fruit compote, so the result is a more refreshing blend of tart and sweet. I decided to make individual versions simply because everyone likes to have their own personal dessert moreso than having to slice up one big dessert and share it. Here are a few extra tips for making these berry summery English sweets:
- As noted below, these directions are for making individual puddings in ramekins. You can also make one large pudding, using larger pieces of brioche. You can use a loaf pan for this or you can also use a bowl, for a dome-shaped pudding.
- Time is an important factor with this recipe. Don't try to unmold the pudding earlier than directed or the brioche won't properly soak up the juices. It's best to leave it overnight.
- Feel free to mix and match any combination of berries listed below. You can also substiture other liqueurs for the Chambord, such as framboise.
English Summer Berry Pudding
1 pound fresh strawberries, diced
1 pound fresh blueberries
1 pound fresh raspberries
1 pound fresh blackberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Chambord
1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 loaf brioche (about 1 pound), sliced about 1/3-inch thick
Lightly sweetened whipped cream for serving
In a large saucepan set over medium-low heat, combine the strawberries, blueberries, half of the raspberries, half of the blackberries, sugar, Chambord, vanilla bean and seeds, and 1/4 cup water. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the fruit is soft and almost pureed. Stir in the remaining raspberries and blackberries and simmer for 2 minutes more. Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.
These directions are for making individual puddings using ramekins of pudding (as I did), but you can also make one large pudding in a baking dish (two sizes that work are 10X7X3 and 7-8 inch diameter round pans.)
Using a round cutter or a glass as a guide, cut out circles of brioche that will fit snugly into the ramekins. Spoon a thin layer of the berry sauce into the bottom of the ramekins and press a round of brioche on top of the sauce. Top with another generous layer of the berries and another round of brioche. Continue to layer the berries and brioche until you reach the top of the ramekin, ending with a layer of berry sauce.
Tightly wrap the ramekins with plastic wrap, so that the pudding is "weighted down." Top the plastic wrap with a small plate or a can to further weight the pudding and then place the ramekins in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Before serving, run a knife around the outside of the pudding and unmold it onto a serving plate. Top the puddings with lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries.