Don’t you sometimes wonder how a traditional dish or dessert came about? I certainly did when I made this dessert that combines two English classics – summer pudding and brown bread ice-cream. I had come across the recipe for the brown bread ice-cream a few months ago while trawling the internet and made a mental note to make it at some point. It’s basically a variation on cookies and cream with the distinguishing ingredient being crunchy caramelized bread crumbs. I wanted to know more about the origins of this ice-cream, but surprisingly, all I could find on the internet is that it dates back to Victorian times. I couldn’t find any more historical information so if someone knows more, please tell me!
As for the origins of summer pudding, one article I read describes it being called ‘hydropathic’ pudding because it was served at health resorts in the 19th century as an alternative to heavy puddings made with pastry. Interesting story but it seems that summer pudding was an early 20th century invention, first appearing in a recipe in 1902. Whatever its history, summer pudding makes delicious use of berries, packing them into a bread casing.
Yes, I know, this dessert has bread and bread but I already had the brown bread ice-cream sitting in the freezer and wasn’t about to make another type. In any case, bread is the common ingredient that links the two main things together <trying hard to convince readers>.
adapted from “The Cook’s Companion”, Stephanie Alexander
Use mainly red currants or raspberries. This is to give the pudding a nice crimson colour. Too many blackberries, blackcurrants or loganberries will produce purple juice. To be honest, I wasn’t too worried, hence the puddings are more purple in colour.
1 loaf thinly sliced white bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup water
500g mixed berries
some chopped unsalted pistachios
Put water and sugar into a non-reactive saucepan. Simmer until sugar has dissolved. Add fruit and give a good stir. Cover and bring to the boil, then remove from heat. Cool fruit completely.
Using a cutter, cut 6 slices of bread into rounds to fit the base of moulds, discarding excess. I used 9cm/3.5inch diameter ramekins as moulds but you can improvise and use what you have at hand. The final look will obviously be different. Line base of moulds with the round slices of bread. Slice more bread to line the sides of each mould, ensuring a good fit. Cut another 6 rounds to form lids and reserve. Spoon in fruit right to the top. Cover with reserved rounds of bread. Place moulds onto a tray and cover with cling film. Place another tray or baking dish over the top. If necessary, weigh down more with tins. Refrigerate puddings overnight or up to 2 days.
To serve, remove weights and invert puddings carefully onto serving plates. You may need to be a bit brutal and run a knife along the sides of the moulds to loosen. Scatter pistachios around plates followed by a scoop (or two) of brown bread ice-cream. You can use whatever ice-cream or sorbet you like instead of this one. Within reason, of course. Chocolate or plain vanilla would be nice but I wouldn’t go using a bacon and egg ice-cream. Leave that for another occasion!