Monday, June 11, 2007

California Summer Pudding

This summer pudding should be served cold, sliced to highlight the cross section of the fruit, and accompanied with whipped cream. This dish also lends itself to experimentation, so use a free hand and add plums, for example, if you’re so inspired.

¾ lb brioche, challah, or egg bread

1 ½ lb peaches

¾ lb blackberries

½ cup sugar

3 tbsp brandy

Trim the crusts from the bread and if it has not been sliced, cut it in roughly 1/3-inch slices. Stack the slices and cut them in half diagonally to make triangles.

Line a 6-cup mold or bowl with plastic wrap. Make sure you have a small plate to fit just inside the rim of the bowl.

Piece together the bread slices in a single layer so they completely line the bowl. There should be no gaps but the fit doesn’t have to be exact – wherever the bread overlaps, simply press the edges together. Trim the bread where it comes over the top of the bowl.

Cut a shallow “X” in the base of each peach, and then dunk them in rapidly boiling water until the peel starts to come loose at the cut – about 20 seconds to 1 minute, depending on ripeness. Remove the peaches and run under cold water. The peels should slip off easily; if they don’t, return to the boiling water briefly. Pit the peaches and cut into chunks.

Combine peaches, blackberries, and sugar in a saucepan and warm over medium heat. Cook just until the fruit starts to soften and release its juices, 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the brandy.

Spoon the fruit into the bowl; it should mound above the lip. Place a sheet of plastic wrap loosely over the top, then place a plate on top. Press gently and stack a heavy can on top. Refrigerate at least 12 hours.

When ready to serve, remove the plate and top layer of wrap. Place a serving plate on top of the bowl and invert so that pudding unmolds onto the plate, and remove the remaining plastic wrap.

Serves 6 to 8.

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