What's in a name? Larousse Gastronomique states that in the past the term "pudding" referred to all boiled dishes - France's boudin noir, for instance, being a prime example - and that it wasn't until the 17th century that the term was used to describe sweet dishes as well.
Today when we hear "pudding" we typically marry the word in our minds to a slowly cooked wintry dessert, something along the lines of a steamed plum pudding, a sticky date pud or a self-saucing chocolate number. But one of the few exceptions to this rule is summer pudding. It's uncooked, served chilled and showcases the best of summer's berry bounty.
Summer pudding wasn't always its name. In the Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson writes that in the 19th century the sweet was called "hydropathic pudding", because the bread-based dessert was served at English health resorts as a lighter alternative to its more traditional pastry-based counterparts. The name was changed to the rather catchier summer pudding in the 20th century, with the term first appearing in print in a book written in 1904 by a missionary in India.
A great summer pudding requires a good mix of berries - here we've used mulberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. These berries are lightly sweetened with sugar and then moulded into a buttered and sugared soft white-bread lining. Pressing the pudding overnight allows the berry juices to seep into the bread, creating a deep crimson stain. The juicy, soft and delicate texture of the result is just beautiful served at any time of the day with a dollop of double cream.
The juices of berries give natural sweetness and a pretty crimson stain to this fruity bread pudding.