A real summer pudding has only three ingredients besides the bread: sugar, raspberries, and red currants, the last almost impossible to find in the United States. I decided to substitute red currant jelly for the currants and some of the sugar. The key to making a summer pudding that doesn’t collapse when you unmold it is to make a small one. If you’re making it for more than 4 people, make multiples—it certainly isn’t difficult or time-consuming to prepare.
Makes 4 servings
One 12-ounce jar red currant jelly
1 1/2 pounds (about 5 half-pint baskets) fresh raspberries, picked over but not washed
1/2 loaf brioche bread, pain de mie, or golden sandwich bread, cut into 3/8-inch slices, crusts trimmed away
One 1-quart round-bottomed bowl, lightly oiled and lined with plastic wrap (the oil helps to keep the plastic wrap in place)
Crème fraiche, whipped cream, or clotted cream for serving
Scrape the jelly into a wide saucepan and place it over low heat. Let the jelly melt, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a simmer. Let the jelly cook at a gentle simmer for 5 minutes to reduce it slightly.
Add the raspberries to the pan and gently slide the pan back and forth several times to moisten them with the reduced jelly. Increase the heat to medium and cook, sliding the pan again occasionally (stirring would crush the berries), until the mixture approaches a simmer, about 3 minutes, no longer. Pour into a medium bowl and cool to room temperature.
Use a cutter or a small plate as a pattern to cut as wide a disk as possible from one of the pieces of bread and place it in the bottom of the prepared bowl. Add more slices of bread (easier if you trim them to a trapezoid shape) around the disk already in place to line the side of the bowl, fitting them tightly together without overlapping.
Use a slotted spoon to fill the lined bowl with the berries, adding only as much of the juices as necessary to fill the bowl to within about 1 inch of the top. Cover the fruit with a layer of bread, piecing it together. Reserve any leftover juices.
Cover with plastic wrap, then set a small plate or saucer that fits inside the bowl on top; put the bowl inside a larger bowl to catch any leaks. Place a weight such as a large can of tomatoes on the plate and refrigerate overnight.
When you want to serve the pudding, remove it from the refrigerator and remove the weight and plate from the top of the dessert. Bring it to room temperature for 1 hour. Invert a deep platter over the dessert, then invert again holding the bowl against the platter; lift away the bowl (you might have to tug gently on the plastic wrap a little to ease it out). Pour the reserved juices over the pudding, especially on any areas that haven’t been completely colored by the absorbed juices. Use a couple of large spoons to serve the pudding on plates and pass the cream on the side.