I don't think I'm alone in finding the idea of eating soggy white bread rather unappealing, so it has taken me a long time to come around to the joys of summer pudding. But come around I have, not least because this is a dessert that captures all the sweet intensity of summer berries. Mixed berries are traditional, but I offer here the pretty and delicious pairing of raspberries and lychees.
800g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
100g castor sugar
80ml raspberry liqueur (framboise) or lychee liqueur (such as Kwai Feh)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp flavourless oil (such as vegetable oil)
8-10 slices brioche loaf or good quality white bread, about 1.5cm thick, crusts removed
18 lychees (fresh or canned), stones removed, roughly torn into quarters
100g fresh raspberries
5 lychees, stones removed and halved
1. Place the raspberries and sugar in a pan and heat gently until sugar dissolves and raspberries release their juice but do not disintegrate completely. Remove from heat and add the liqueur, lemon juice and salt. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
2. Lightly oil the inside of a pudding bowl (roughly 1.2-litre capacity), then line with a double layer of cling film, leaving a generous overhang down the sides.
3. Cut a circle from a slice of bread to fit the base of the pudding bowl, then cut the remaining slices in half. Dab one side of the bread circle quickly into the pan with the juicy raspberries (you don't want to soak it entirely, just moisten lightly) and place it, wet side against the cling film, on the base of the bowl. Repeat with most of the slices to line the sides of the bowl, overlapping slightly to ensure there are no gaps and pressing the edges together to "seal" the pudding. Reserve some slices to make the pudding "lid".
4. Scoop out about a cup of the raspberry mixture. Strain this through a fine sieve into a small bowl and refrigerate until needed.
5. Add the lychee quarters to the remaining raspberry mixture in the pan, stir to combine, then spoon into the bread-lined bowl. Place the remaining slices of bread on top – again ensuring there are no gaps – and press down lightly. Fold any edges down, or trim bread to fit.
6. Fold over the overhanging cling film to ensure that the pudding is sealed. Place a small plate (one that will fit exactly inside the bowl) on top, then weigh it down with a heavy object – say, an unopened tin of tomatoes or a bag of sugar. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours (or overnight) to soak and compact down.
7. When ready to serve, lift off the weight and plate, and peel back the cling film. Place a large serving plate (preferably one with a slight lip to catch any juices) on top and flip the pudding basin over. Lift off the basin and the cling film. If there are any white patches of bread, use a pastry brush to dab on some of the sieved raspberry sauce. Spoon the remaining sauce on top, allowing it to drip attractively down the sides. Scatter the extra fresh raspberries and lychee halves. Cut into wedges and serve with cream.