This is one of those annoying recipes where the person really just wants to boast about wonderful fresh ingredients that you, stuck in the city, with barely time to dash to the 24-hour Woolies at the Engen, are not in any position to acquire. Since that’s usually me – and is going to be me again next week – I understand exactly how irritating that is. And I’m going to do it anyway.
Today’s fresh, unattainable ingredients are berries, handpicked from a French country garden with the help of two charming little children.
First, find your raspberry bushes. These will be hidden like ruby fields down at the bottom of the garden where the grass is long. Some of them may even be perilously close to nettles.
Teach charming children what colour a ripe raspberry is (not green) and how to find them without getting stung by nettles. Fill a bowl with raspberries before proceeding to search and strip the garden of red currants, gooseberries, wild strawberries and even a few cultivated strawberries, hot from the sun.
Leave some of the raspberries for later so that your niece can sit in the tree house and order you and your nephew to bring her more in a most charming manner.
Then, before you pass out from sunstroke or cheap French wine, make this pudding, which is fortunately easy enough to bake even if you have had too much sun and wine. The only culinary skill you’re going to need is the ability to butter bread. You can manage that, right?
- A large bowl of fresh mixed red berries, handpicked in a French country garden. If you can’t get these, frozen berries will have to do.
- Sliced baguette, brioche or bread. Or all three. This kind of pudding is not fussy about the bready stuff that goes into it.
- Butter. It’s easier to spread if it’s soft. (Sometimes I like to state the obvious because sometimes the obvious stuff is actually helpful to me.)
- 3 eggs
- 500 ml milk
- About 1 cup sugar
- Ground nutmeg and cinnamon
- Fresh vanilla, handpicked on your last exotic holiday in Madagascar… (Nah, just joking. Haven’t been there in years.)
What to do
- Rinse off the berries (or defrost if frozen). Put in a bowl and sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over them and leave for maybe half an hour, or until you remember you’re supposed to be making pudding (you will be reminded by your niece).
- Grease a largeish oven dish and butter your bread stuffs on one side. Put one layer in the dish butter side up and then cover with the berries. Put another layer over the berries, also butter side up.
- Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg and cinnamon.
- Beat the eggs with 1/2 cup sugar and add the milk (slightly warmed) and vanilla. Pour it all over the bread and berries. Squish everything down a bit with your hands (it’s a good idea to wash your hands, especially if anyone’s watching you.)
- Sprinkle with a bit more sugar and leave to stand for about half an hour or until you remember you’re still supposed to be making pudding (your niece and nephew will remind you).
- Heat the oven to 180 C, trying to ignore alarming rocket noise French ovens make. Bake the pudding for 45 minutes, or until rocket noise can no longer be ignored.
- Serve to impressed adults with ice cream and more French wine long after nephew and niece have been put to bed (but remember to keep a portion aside for them for tomorrow).
- Berry picking: depends on how much help you have and how many you eat while picking. (A good nephew and niece will eat only 5% of total pickings.)
- Preparation: 10 minutes (excluding standing time of 30 mins for fruit and 30 mins for pudding)
- Cooking: 45 minutes
- 1 dish
- 1 bowl
- 1 bread knife
- 1 butter knife
- 1 bread board
- 1 fork/whisk
- 1 spoon