The sugary crust of a crème brûlée, the caramelised apples and crisp pastry of a tarte Tatin and the sublime juice-soaked bread of a summer pudding are my idea of the holy trinity of desserts. Consequently, like anything divine, there are a few religious rules to follow. For example, no strawberries should appear in a summer pudding. In the absence of blackcurrants (frozen are fine), use a combination of blackberries and boysenberries. Raspberries are essential and should ideally outnumber the other berries two to one. The bread should be able to soak up all the luxurious juices, so only ever use a sliced white sandwich loaf. Here endeth the lesson.
- Discard any mouldy berries. Put the fruit and sugar into a stainless-steel saucepan with a good splash of cold water. Taste the fruit and add a little more sugar if it's a bit sharp. Bring to a lazy simmer for 8 minutes until you have a crimson-hued syrup, then remove from the heat.
- Cut all but one of the slices of bread (crusts already removed) into 3 fingers. Cut a circle of bread from the reserved slice and place it firmly in the bottom of a small bowl, then line the rest of the bowl with bread strips.
- Pour in the juice and fruit and place any leftover bread strips over the top, sealing in the fruit. Place the bowl on a shallow tray, then top with a small plate and a heavy weight. Refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the weight and carefully slide a knife between bread and bowl, taking great care not to tear the bread. Place a serving plate on top of the bowl, then quickly invert the pudding, shaking it well to dislodge it. Serve with pouring cream.