Without her mother, Grandma would never have made this pudding, which depends on really ripe berries and, strangely, dry white bread. The riper the berries – raspberrries, strawberries, blackberries, currants — the better. After searching her mother’s personal cookbook dating from the 1930s, Grandma finally found the recipe and it is a winner. Vanilla ice cream, thick sweet cream, or crème fraîche are great accompaniments.
1½ lb/675 g mixed berries
1/3 cup/75 g sugar, more to taste
8-9 slices stale white bread, crusts discarded
6-cup/1.5 liter pudding bowl
1. Pick over the berries, cutting up any that are large. Rinse all the berries with water in a colander. Mix the wet fruit with the sugar in a saucepan and simmer, stirring, until the fruit softens and releases juice, 5-10 minutes depending on the ripeness of the berries. Let the fruit cool, taste and add more sugar if needed.
2. Line the bowl with the some of the bread slices, trimming so that they fit tightly. Reserve several to cover the pudding. Add the fruit and bread in layers, moistening each bread layer thoroughly and ending with a layer of bread soaked with the remaining juice, setting aside a half cup to finish the pudding. (If the juice runs low, add a little water so all the layers are soaked.) Set a small plate and 1 lb/500 g weight on top (the plate should press the fruit and bread down into the bowl). Chill the pudding in the refrigerator for at least one day and up to two days.
3. Shortly before serving, unmold the pudding onto a deep platter to collect the juices. Baste any white patches of bread with the reserved juice.