Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Summer extract

I watered the plants on the terrace with Sigur Ros on the tips of my ears. And now the recently fed dog is wiping his nose on the warm tiles while my feet fall from ledge and caress the top of rosemaries. When the Mistral blows, I feel their fragrance. It is much better than an incense that clogs your lungs as quicksand. And after watering the plants, after running on tiptoe between the olive and the fig trees full of promises, I let myself fall into the grass with eyes closed not to be dazzled. I put my hands behind my head and created a makeshift cushion while under my body a microscopic wildlife was fluttering.

It's been quite a long time since I wanted to make a pudding. I had already tried the Christmas version and knew a bit about traditional ones that use suet. But the second one always kept me from cooking it. I'm not a big fan of meat fat. Really not. Then a few weeks ago, I started going on the BBC Cook page and I discovered their "get cooking" videos. I litterally spent two hours just watching the recipes being made and making quick notes of what I would try s soon as possible. Among these was the Summer Pudding and it won my heart (yeah, the result does look like a heart in a way).
So on the first week-end I bought everything I need and invited a few people to come and try it. I tell you, it didn't last long, and it's better that way, because it's not the kind of pudding that looks nice after two days. Even before that, when I had my big knife in my hand, I felt like I was in a gory horror movie. It was a tasty one, though. 

ingredients for 1L pudding (around 6 servings) :
750g mixed summer fruit (I wanted to use fresh ones, but it was difficult to have a big range of different berries, so I used frozen ones instead and it worked just well. Better have them defrost before you cook though)
185g caster sugar (my weighing scale is not that precise, so don't worry about 5g)
1 medium loaf good-quality white bread, slightly stale (again, I had bought and frozen one because its price was reduced then. I just took it out a few hours before)
2 tbsp cassis or blackcurrant cordial
2 mint stems

You'll need a 1litre pudding bowl (I only had a 2L one, that's why mine is more flat)

Put all your fruits in a pan, and pour the sugar on them before stirring with a spoon so the sugar would get soaked with juice. Add mint to the juice.
The best is to let it steep for a few hours or even overnight. It will give time for mint to flavour the fruits and will give more juice. I forgot this part so I couldn't leave it that long. 3 hours should be fine.

Put the pan over moderate heat and bring gently to the boil. Stir once in a while to make sure sugar is dissolved.
While the fruits cook, cut your bread into slices and remove the crusts. Then, when you start getting a nice juice, raise the heat to simmer for about 3mn. Turn off the heat and add the cordial.

It's time to make your bread puzzle. Cut a first one the shape of the bottom of your bowl, then cut the following ones into raw triangles. Dip one side of each of your bread in the juice, starting by the bottom, and stick it against the side of the bowl, soaked side against it (this will make your the whole surface is colored in the end). Work step  by step so you can arrange the size of your wedges. Be sure all is covered. Cut smaller ones is necessary and press them against the surface.

Once you got all covered, slowly pour all the remaining juuice and fruits inside the bowl. Use more triangles of bread to cover the top of the pudding. It's not important if the tip of some wedges on the size show. You'll cut them before you serve. 
Find a plate that is the size on the top of the bowl and place it over the bread wedges, then use weight to put pressure on the pudding (I used potatoes because I didn't have proper weights). Store it in the fridge overnight.

About 30mn before you serve it, remove the weights and the plate. With a thin blade, make sure bread doesn't stick on the edges and invert the bowl onto a shallow plate. Shake very carefully if it sticks a bit, then remove the bowl. Cut it, serve it, eat it. Nothing is more simple.

Detail from John Everett Millais' painting Apple Blossom, aka Spring, 1859.

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