For those of you who know me well and have been following my recipes for quite some time, you’ll know that I do not do things by halves. I have taken exactly the same approach with these summer puddings and they are something rather special. There is nothing very traditional about them, but the results are truly delicious!
I basically use any berries that I have to hand. Some say that a traditional summer pudding does not contain strawberries, but from my point of view, if you have them, then use them, if you like.
These puddings are made using a Victoria sponge cake instead of bread. The reason for this is that for me to serve a pudding in the restaurant it has to be special, and the Victoria sponge adds a bit of richness and decadence to a traditional dessert.
I have also added gelatine to the filling to help keep it together. I can already hear some sighs and perhaps people losing interest, but this is my twist on a traditional dessert and it does create something rather special, so I would encourage you to give it a go.
At the height of summer, these puddings prove to be really popular, so much so that I can hardly keep up with making enough of them! We serve each pudding with a scoop of raspberry ice cream or a dollop of cream or crème fraîche and plenty of fresh berries.
Ingredients & Method
For the Victoria sponge cake
- 340g unsalted butter, softened
- 340g caster sugar
- seeds scraped from ½ vanilla pod
- 6 large free-range eggs
- 340g self-raising flour
- 80ml milk
For the summer pudding sauce
- 250g prepared mixed fresh red summer berries and fruits (such as raspberries, redcurrants and loganberries)
- 200g caster sugar
- 100ml cold water
- juice of 1 lemon
For the summer pudding filling
- 200ml Summer Pudding Sauce (see above)
- 4 leaves of gelatine, bloomed (softened in cold water, then squeezed gently to remove excess water)
- 800g prepared mixed fresh summer berries and fruits (loganberries, raspberries, mulberries, cherries, blackberries, tayberries, red and blackcurrants)
To decorate and serve
- prepared mixed fresh summer berries and fruits (loganberries, raspberries, mulberries, cherries, blackberries, tayberries, red and blackcurrants)
- raspberry ice cream, cream or crème fraîche
First, make the Victoria sponge cake. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5. Grease one large roasting tin (23cm square x 4cm deep in size) and line the base with greaseproof paper. Set aside.
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds together using a mixer fitted with a balloon whisk on high speed for about 6 minutes, until pale in colour and creamy and fluffy in texture. Add one egg at a time and mix well after each addition. Sift the flour twice and then add it to the creamed mixture, folding it in gently. Fold in the milk until combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to rest in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out the cake on to a wire cooling rack. Leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the summer pudding sauce. Place all the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan over a low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat and bring the sauce to a rapid boil, then cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from burning. By this stage, the berries will have collapsed and the mixture may look jammy. Remove from the heat and transfer the sauce to a clean container. Chill the sauce rapidly by placing the container over ice, then once chilled, cover and refrigerate until needed (the sauce can be made up to 1 day in advance).
Once the cake is cooled and the sauce is chilled, make the summer pudding filling. Pour the measured summer pudding sauce into a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Remove from the heat, then add the bloomed gelatine and stir until dissolved. Pour the sauce into a mixing bowl, stir in the mixed berries, then set aside, but do not refrigerate at this stage.
Carefully slice the cake horizontally into 3 even slices, each slice roughly 1cm-thick (see Cook’s Notes). Place each square slice of cake on the work surface and then, using a 7cm diameter round cutter, cut out 9 rounds from each slice of cake to give you a total of 27 rounds of cake (you need 2 rounds per pudding, so 20 rounds in total, but the extra will allow for breakages, and any leftovers can then be used in another recipe – see Cook’s Notes).
To assemble each dessert, place a fairly large piece of cling film on the work surface, then place a 8 x 4cm ramekin dish underneath the centre of the cling film and press the cling film into the ramekin to line the inside (leaving the rest of the cling film overhanging the sides). Dip one round of sponge cake into the remaining summer pudding sauce and then place it in the bottom of the lined ramekin. Fill the ramekin with some of the mixed berry filling, then dip a second round of sponge cake into the sauce and place on top of the filling. Bring the overhanging cling film up and over the top round of sponge cake and close the edges tightly together, then press firmly on the sponge cake to mould the pudding into shape. Repeat this procedure to make the rest of the summer puddings. Once the puddings are all made, place them on a tray in the fridge and leave for at least 6 hours, or until set.
When you are ready to serve, carefully remove the summer puddings from the ramekins, then remove and discard the cling film. Place the puddings on serving plates, spoon over a dash of the remaining sauce to glaze the top of each one and then decorate each pudding with some fresh mixed berries. Serve with raspberry ice cream, cream or crème fraîche.
The best way to horizontally slice the baked sponge cake into 3 even slices is to either use a bread knife or a length of sturdy cotton thread to carefully cut through the cake (or you can use a long piece of unflavoured dental floss!).
Any leftover sponge cake trimmings can be used in a trifle or to make cake pops. The trimmings will keep in an airtight container (or wrapped in foil) for a few days, or can be frozen for up to 1 month.
You can use frozen mixed berries for this recipe too. For the sauce, use the berries from frozen, but for the filling, defrost the berries before use – place them in a colander set over a bowl to drain off most of the liquid (otherwise the filling will be too sloppy), then use as directed.