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From family picnics to barbecues in the back garden, summer is the season of delicious meals eaten outdoors.
Follow this easy step-by-step recipe and make the most of sweet, juicy berries with a classic summer pudding. Layered with pink, juice-soaked bread, this simple dessert is perfect for preparing ahead to feed the family.
After chilling overnight, the summer pudding will keep in the fridge for up to three days. It also freezes well. Ensure that the pudding bowl is freezer-proof before starting, then wrap the whole bowl in a double layer of clingfilm before freezing. Defrost overnight in the fridge before serving. In order to enjoy optimum flavour and quality, frozen items are best used within three months of their freezing date.
•Sunflower or vegetable oil, for greasing
•750g mixed summer berries (any mix of raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and pitted cherries)
•125g golden caster sugar
•½ orange, zested and juiced
•150g strawberries, hulled and sliced
•8 slices white bread
•Fresh berries, to serve (optional)
•Whipped cream or crème fraîche, to serve (optional)
Lightly grease a 1 litre pudding bowl with sunflower or vegetable oil, then line with two layers of clingfilm, leaving plenty overhanging the sides of the bowl.
Put 750g mixed summer berries (such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants or pitted cherries) in a large pan. Add 125g golden caster sugar and the zest and juice of half an orange. Cook over a low heat for five mins until the sugar has dissolved and the berries have released their juices, then set aside to cool. Stir as little as possible to keep the berries intact.
Once cool, stir through an additional 150g raspberries and 150g hulled and sliced strawberries to give the filling some freshness and texture. Strain through a sieve to separate the fruit from the juices, reserving the fruit for later and pouring the juice into a large shallow dish.
Cut the crusts off eight slices of white bread. Cut a circle from one slice to fit the bottom of the pudding bowl then cut the other seven slices in half on the diagonal. Set four triangles aside for the top. Dip one side of the bread circle in the juice then put in the bottom of the pudding bowl, juice-side down. Repeat with the bread triangles, pressing them juice-side outwards, around the sides of the bowl, overlapping them to ensure there are no gaps. If there are any gaps, just push a small piece of bread into the hole to cover.
Spoon the reserved fruit into the bread-lined bowl, filling to the top. Trim any bits of bread sticking up at the edges.
Use the reserved bread triangles to cover the top, then drizzle or spoon the last berry juices over the top of the bread to cover.
Fold over the overhanging clingfilm to cover the top, then put a small plate (just smaller than the top of the bowl) on top of the pudding and transfer to the fridge. Place something heavy on top to weigh it down (such as a 1kg bag of sugar, a heavy book or a bowl filled with water). Chill overnight so that the bread can soak up all the juices from the fruit.
When ready to serve, lift off the weight and unwrap the clingfilm on top. Place a large serving plate over the top of the bowl then carefully turn over to invert the pudding onto the plate. Use the clingfilm to help lift the bowl off the pudding, then serve in slices with some extra fresh berries and a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraiche.