I’m also in favour of the pre-sliced variety, medium cut, because it makes a far neater pudding, given it’s much easier to work with something sliced exactly to the same thickness, which isn’t even that thick. Also, artisanal breads tend to have a more open crumb structure which although generally desirable is not appropriate for a bread pudding.
Makes 4 small individual puddings
1 loaf of medium sliced white bread
1 punnet of blackberries
8 – 10 strawberries
250g caster sugar
Right then. I differ from others (…yeah, yeah, yeah) in that I don’t cook my fruit at all, instead I make a sugar syrup and pour that over the fruit to macerate them. Now the fruits won’t bleed as much juice by doing it this way which is why the volume of syrup may seem overly generous.
Add 250ml of cold water to 250g of caster sugar in a pan, set over a low heat and dissolve the sugar slowly until the syrup starts to bubble. That’s it.
The ratio of fruit should also be personal preference; strawberries are not necessarily a traditional inclusion but I can’t get my head around a summer fruit dessert with mixed fruit not including them. I’ve also included blackberries, despite them having a reputation for being an autumn fruit, a) because they contribute greatly to the colour and depth of the juice, and b) because my own blackberry bush has been producing fruit for weeks and weeks now and it’s not even September – so what’s not summery about that!? I do however draw the line at blueberries.
So then all you’ve got to do is wash the fruits, toss them together, cutting any larger specimens in half and pour over the hot syrup.
Meanwhile, cut circles of crust-less bread to size and place in the bottom of each pudding basin, then cut 4cm wide strips of bread - you’ll probably get 3 strips from each slice of bread. Arrange these lengthways, overlapping, in each basin leaving the overhang attached to form the bases later.
Pour a little juice into the bottom of each basin, then pile in the fruits filling them generously and compactly. Pour in as much extra juice as it'll take then fold over the overhanging bread, tearing off any you deem to be just too much. You may/should have some fruits and plenty of juice leftover.
I have never lined my basins with anything, butter or cling film for example, they will plop out easily enough if you use a palette knife or something similar to run around the sides to loosen them.
Cover with cling film, then pop them in the fridge on a tray, and place something flat and heavy over the top of them to compress them further. If you didn’t do this bit it wouldn’t be the end of the world, in which case check them periodically and poke them down with your fingers as the puddings become softer and more pliable over time. Add more juice if you dare.
Leaving them overnight would be first choice, although if you made these first thing in the morning they’ll be good by dinner time.
Turn them out and pile on extra fruits and juice. Serve with double/pouring/clotted cream.
They also make an excellent breakfast alternative.