Summer puddings have been made by the British for hundreds of years. They begin with a loaf of white bread, which is cut and pressed into a bowl and layered with berries simmered with sugar. The molded pudding is weighted for at least half a day, then turned out, cut into wedges, and served with whipped cream. ``In the 19th century," writes Alan Davidson in ``The Oxford Companion to Food," ``this pudding seems to have been known as `hydropathic pudding,' because it was served at health resorts where pastry was forbidden." Alas, the name did not survive into the next century; the dish became ``summer pudding," because that's when the berries are in season.
|1||quart fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered|
|6 to 8||slices white sandwich bread|
2. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the strawberries, sugar, and water. Cook gently until the sugar melts. Let the mixture bubble gently for 10 minutes or until the berries release all their moisture. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Without removing the crusts from the bread, halve the slices diagonally. With a spoon, wet the sides of the bowl. Press some bread slices onto the sides of the bowl so the bread completely covers it. Cut smaller pieces of bread to wedge between the larger pieces, if necessary. A little berry juice will keep the bread adhered to the bowl.
4. Spoon berries and juice onto the bread. Continue layering until all the bread and all the berries are used. Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and set a small plate inside the bowl. Set a weight on top. Refrigerate for at least half a day and for as long as two days.
5. Open the plastic wrap, and turn the pudding upside down onto a dinner plate. Lift off the bowl and discard the plastic wrap. Cut into wedges to serve.