by Jessica Seaton & Anna Colquhoun from Gather Cook Feast: Recipes from Land and Water by the Co-Founder of Toast
(Fig Tree/Penguin) Photography: Jonathan Lovekin & Nick Seaton
My favourite version of summer pudding is made with blackberries in the autumn, but then it can’t be called summer. This is my version with mixed wild soft fruits and nuts, which I am renaming in honour of the humble hedgerow.
Blackberrying is the sort of foraging everyone knows and loves. Raspberries, damsons and plums can be found in the wild too, if you are lucky. The damsons add a wonderful extra sharpness to the fruit but can be hard to find. In need, replace with a good sharp plum.
For a full foraged hedgerow experience, wet and pale hazelnuts or Kent cobnuts can be a delicious, delicate choice, or use regular shop-bought hazelnuts for a more toasty taste.
Slightly stale bread is helpful to hold the pudding together and avoid gumminess, but you can leave out a few slices to dry out in advance of making this, or keep a sliced loaf in the freezer.
Make the day before, or at least 6 hours before you plan to eat it.
100g damsons or plums
75g hazelnuts or cobnuts (pre-shelled weight), shelled, toasted, skinned, chopped
8 slices of slightly stale white bread, crusts removed
single cream, to serve
Essential kit: You will need a 750ml basin.
Prepare the fruit. If the blackberries or raspberries are foraged ones, pick over them carefully and remove any overripe or sharp prickly ones and any stowaway bugs. Remove the stones from the damsons by cutting the flesh away from the stone.
Put the fruit, nuts and sugar into a heavy lidded pan and cook over a low heat, until the fruit has given off its liquid and the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up a touch and cook for a further 3–5 minutes, until the damsons are tender. Taste the mixture and add a little sugar if needed (keep it fruity).
Line a 750ml basin with clingfilm, with enough hanging over the edges to fold over the top and twist together. Then line the basin all the way around with the white bread, keeping one slice for the top. (Nigel suggests cutting a circular piece to fit the bottom of the basin & then cut the slices as required so they fit neatly together with no overlap, keeping one slice, or more if needed, for the top).
Strain the fruit mixture, retaining the juice. Pour a little of the juice all around the inside of the bread slices in the basin, to make the bread as purple as possible with the juice. Don’t worry if there are some white bits left on the outside, you will have some leftover juice to deal with those later. Then put all the strained solids into the hollow. Pop the last slice of bread over the top and fold in all the other bits of bread. Pull up the edges of clingfilm and twist them tightly together. Find a saucer small enough to fit inside the basin, then put a heavy object on top of the saucer and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to eat, open out the clingfilm, put a plate on top and invert to turn out, gently pulling the pudding out using the edges of the clingfilm.
Pour a little of the remaining juice over the pudding to cover any random white areas and serve the rest with each portion. Serve with single cream.