This simple English dessert is best when using the ripest and sweetest berries on the bush.
Yield: serves 8
- 1 1⁄4 cups sugar
- Juice and peel of 1 lemon
- 1 lb. strawberries, washed and hulled (if large, cut in half lengthwise)
- 1⁄2 lb. blackberries, washed
- 1⁄2 lb. blueberries, washed
- 3⁄4 lb. raspberries
- 15-20 very thin slices white bread (such as Pepperidge Farm), crusts trimmed
- 2 cups freshly whipped cream
- Cook sugar, lemon juice, peel, and 2 1⁄4 cups water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium, add strawberries, and poach for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer strawberries to a bowl. Poach blackberries in the same syrup for 30 seconds, then add to strawberries. Repeat with blueberries, then with half the raspberries. Add remaining raspberries to syrup and cook, mashing with spoon, until very soft, about 10 minutes. Discard peel. Cool syrup.
- Use a pastry brush to lightly coat a deep 1-quart bowl with syrup. Cut 1 slice of bread to fit the bottom, dip it into syrup, and place in bowl. Dip additional bread slices into syrup and line sides of bowl, overlapping slightly.
- Spoon about a third of mixed berries into bowl. Cut several more bread slices to make an even layer of bread over berries, then dip into syrup, arrange, and press down lightly. Repeat process twice, ending with a double layer of bread. Refrigerate remaining syrup.
- Cover pudding with plastic wrap, place a plate on top, and weigh it down with two large cans. Place bowl on a plate (juice may seep out) and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Invert pudding onto a platter (if pudding sticks, slide a knife around the edge) and serve cold with reserved syrup and whipped cream.