The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday, which is really saying something, because I’m usually soo, so bad at picking favorites. I just can’t help but love everything about Independence Day: I love the barbecues, the day-loads, the red white and blue desserts, the fireworks and the Springsteen inspired patriotism. Heck, I even love the sunburn that inevitably results from spending the entire day outside.
This year was as good as any other, if not better, thanks to these cheeseburgers and a mellow beach concert featuring the one and only G.Love. Neither G.Love nor the burgers came with Special Sauce (and neither of them needed it).
There’s something about barbecues that I can’t wrap my head around, and maybe you guys can help me out. Why are there always tons of leftover hotdog and hamburger buns? Does everyone just grossly overestimate the amount of buns needed, or has the world just given up on bread all together? I’m leaning towards the latter, but I still don’t understand. Everyone I saw this weekend with a hotdog or hamburger in their hand had it on a bun. I guess it will stay up there with other mysteries like what happens to all of those socks lost in the dryer. Seriously though, WHERE DO THEY GO?
But you know what? It’s cool. Because having all this leftover bread inspired me to find a way to repurpose it. Bread pudding was the obvious choice, but I wanted to try something a little different. Something I’ve never tried before. I wanted something a little less cliche. Something – dare I say it – a little less American.
Enter: Summer Pudding, a classic British no-bake dessert consisting of bread soaked with ripe summer fruits and their juices. I’d never tasted Summer Pudding prior to making it this past weekend, but it quickly turned me into a believer. Bright, sweet and fruity, it’s brilliant! Tops! Ace! It’s all of the British words I can think of to say “great!” The texture is a bit stodgy, but lightened up by the layers of juicy fruit. A way to use up leftover stale bread, fresh summer berries AND not have to turn on the oven? I’m into it.
I gathered as many varieties of berries that I could find at the farmer’s market: blackberries, raspberries and blueberries and combined them with last month’s strawberries that I’ve been hoarding in the freezer for moments like this. I cooked them down for just a bit with a generous amount of vanilla sugar, then I cut the crusts off about 8 hot dog buns and sliced them each into 4 pieces lengthwise. Next, I buttered a deep bowl and lined it with the buns, then the warm berries, and repeated until it was full. I poured the remaining juices over the top, covered it, weighed it down, and let it hang out in the fridge for several hours. What emerged was this bright purpled dome, oozing with sweet berry syrup.
While this recipe doesn’t have to be made with leftover hotdog or hamburger buns, it’s totally a great way to use them up if you have them. Traditionally, plain old white bread is used, but brioche, challah or sweet Hawaiian bread would be awesome, too. You can use an assortment of different summer fruits depending on what’s available to you locally. Berries are classic, but I think stone fruits like peaches and plums would be particularly nice.
We cut the pudding into slices, topped them with a little fresh whipped cream, and it was everything a sxummer dessert should be, and then some. I guess that’s why they call it Summer Pudding.
- 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 pint raspberries
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1/2 pint blackberries
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar OR 1 1/2 cups plain white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 package (8) hamburger or hot dog buns, crusts removed and each cut into 4 slices lengthwise OR 1 loaf of white bread, crusts removed
- For the Whipped Cream
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar OR 2 tablespoons plain white sugar with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place the berries, sugar, salt and water in a medium saucepan and bring up to a simmer. Stir, gently, and let cook for about 1-2 minutes. You want the fruit to release it's juices, but also to still hold its shape. Remove from the heat.
- Butter the sides of a 6-8 cup bowl or dish and spoon about 1/2 cup of the warm berry mixture into the bowl and swirl it around to coat the sides. Line the bowl with pieces of bread, cutting them to fit as necessary. Be mindful of how you place them, as they will be the outside of the finished pudding. Spoon about 1/2 - 3/4 cup berry mixture in the bottom and then top with a layer of sliced bread. Repeat until all the bread and berries are used up, being sure to pour the remaining liquid over to coat the last layer. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place a few plates or bowls on top to weight it down. Place the entire thing in the refrigerator for a minimum of 5 hours, or overnight.
- When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream and vanilla sugar together until they form stiff peaks.
- Remove the weights and plastic wrap from the pudding, and run a sharp knife along the perimeter of the bowl to loosen. Place a serving dish on top of the bowl, and carefully invert it over. Remove the bowl to reveal the pudding. Slice and serve with dollops of whipped cream.
- Feel free to substitute another fruit for the berries. Just be sure to have about 7 cups of fruit, total.