It was Olympic madness in Twickenham/Richmond yesterday – and today too. The cycle races are coming through so roads are closed, buses not running. The only solution if I wanted my usual favourite cup of coffee at Taylor St Baristas was to walk. Such is my dedication to drinking only wonderful coffee – and most definitely never being lured into somewhere like Starbucks, even though they are near – that I walked two and a half miles (Google pedestrian counting) to Taylor Street’s cafe by Richmond station and back! En route I did some shopping but there’s only so much a girl can carry, so when I spied all those lovely summer berries on Waitrose’s shelves and thought, ‘Aah, summer pudding, I haven’t made a summer pudding this year,’ I carried on by without buying any.
However, the sun was shining, it was hot in the garden and later, after some lunch, my thoughts turned to ice cream. Well really, why wouldn’t they? Now my dedication to a good ice cream is much on a par with my love of good coffee … but could I walk 5 miles again just to enjoy a scoop or two of Gelateria Daniele‘s best? Gosh, living so close to Heathrow I could almost be in Rome in the time it would take me to get there and back. Perhaps Rome was going a bit far in my thoughts, but making my own? Yes, I could definitely make my own. The ice-cream maker tub was in the freezer, all ready to go. I just needed to make something lovely to put in it and twenty minutes later … gelato!
In my ice cream and sorbet enthusiasms over the past few weeks since buying the ice-cream maker, I been meaning to look out an old Gary Rhodes book of mine – Open Rhodes Around Britain – which I remembered contained a wonderful recipe for Pear Sorbet that I used to make a lot years ago. I climbed up on a chair to bring it down from the top bookshelf. But as my thoughts turned to a nice fresh sorbet rather than a rich ice cream to go with the meal I had planned for the evening, I remembered Summer Pudding and all those wonderful bright berries in Waitrose in the morning. Well, it wasn’t too far back to the Twickenham branch.
On the way, as I walked, I contemplated how I might incorporate the bread aspect of the pudding into the sorbet. I could caramelise breadcrumbs, I thought. But then I decided to just have fruit – but all the fruit I would put in the pudding. A true British Summer Pudding can really only be made in the summer months – hence the title! Although so many fruits are available all year now, I never stray from believing this is one pudding that can only be made – with ripe English berries – at the proper time. You can mix the berries to a certain extent, choosing what you like best, but a Summer Pudding should always contain redcurrants and blackcurrants. I always add raspberries but never stawberries. Yesterday I picked up a pack of plump blackberries too.
Once home the sorbet was put together quite quickly. And it’s very easy. I consulted Gary on quantities; a sugar syrup was ready in a couple of minutes, cooled fairly quickly and added to the bowl of fruit and soon the whole thing was whisking round nicely in the ice-cream maker. Once it was ready, I was starting to transfer it to a container to go into the freezer when the doorbell rang. In came Jonathan – still busy moving the last of their things to their new home. He always heads straight to the kitchen, whether I’m there or not, opens the fridge, sees what’s around foodwise. I took a teaspoon and loaded a tasting of my freshly made sorbet on to it. He put it in his mouth … his eyes closed and screwed up a little. Oh my god, I’ve made it too tart, I thought. But then his eyes opened and he smiled. ‘That is amazing,’ he said. ‘It tastes like Summer Pudding.’ He’d said exactly the right thing. I mentioned my bread thoughts but he said the creaminess of the sorbet (achieved, it has to be said by the whisking in an electric ice-cream maker) had the same effect as the bread in the traditional pudding. Bread wasn’t needed in the sorbet.
So, here is the recipe. I’m rather proud of it. It worked so well and means I can have a taste of summer pudding a lot more often than if I made the real thing!
You need 500g summer fruit. As I said above, the combination is up to you really but should contain both red- and blackcurrants. I used raspberries and blackberries too and my final combination has more raspberries than anything, followed by the blackberries and then a good handful of each of the currants. Put them all in a large bowl.
Now make a sugar syrup. Put 200g caster sugar in a pan with 300ml water. Bring to a boil and allow to bubble away for just two or three minutes until it thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool (I found it cooled quickly, but you can always put the pan in a bowl of iced water to speed things up). Pour the syrup over the fruit and add the juice of 1 lemon. Blend in a liquidiser or, as I did, use a hand blender.
Pour the mixture through a sieve into a large jug. It’s important to sieve it to get rid of all the little pips that wouldn’t be pleasant in the sorbet. Now the sieved mixture can go into the ice-cream maker – and about 20-25 minutes later, you have your Summer Sorbet!
It was such a wonderful taste of summer – slightly tart (I didn’t want it too sweet), smooth and with a lovely creaminess just as you get in a traditional summer pudding when the juices soak into the bread. All those wonderful summer berry flavours caught up in a delicious cool mouthful of loveliness. This is definitely going to turn into a summer favourite!