Nothing says English summer to me quite like a summer pudding, and I return to this recipe year after year, when the beautiful soft summer fruits are at their peak. I make a sponge rather than use the more traditional stale bread—the extra effort is well worth it. I also use more currants than other fruits as they keep the sweetness in check. Serve each portion topped with a dollop of crème fraîche or thick cream.
Excerpted from SPRING by Skye Gyngell by arrangement with Quadrille Publishing, distributed by Chronicle Books, Copyright © 2016 by Skye Gyngell.
For the sponge, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 13 x 9-inches baking tin. Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat; let cool. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg yolks with half the sugar until pale and thick enough to leave a ribbon trail on the surface when the whisk is lifted.
In a separate, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt and the remaining sugar, whisking slowly to begin with, then increasing the speed slightly after 1 or 2 minutes. Continue to whisk until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
Carefully fold the flour into the egg yolk and sugar mix, a third at a time, alternately with the water. Fold in the whisked whites, a third at a time. Finally, fold in the melted butter.
Spread the mixture thinly and evenly in the prepared baking tin. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven 8 to 10 minutes or until the sponge is just golden and dry to the touch. Leave in the tin a few minutes, then turn out and let cool on a wire rack while you prepare the fruit.
Place the black- and redcurrants in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until the fruit just starts to release its juices. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the fruit and the lemon zest. Let stand a few minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
Line a 4 ½ cup ceramic ramekin with plastic wrap, leaving plenty overhanging all round. Using a pastry cutter, cut 2 rounds of sponge, one to fit the bottom of the ramekin and one to fit the diameter of the top of the ramekin. Place the smaller disc in the bottom of the basin. Now cut long, tapering strips of sponge and use to line the sides of the ramekin, overlapping them slightly and pressing tightly to ensure there are no gaps.
Using a slotted spoon, spoon the fruit into the sponge-lined ramekin, filling it to the brim. Spoon on the juices, reserving a few spoonfuls for serving. Lay the other sponge disc on top. Fold over the plastic wrap to seal and place a saucer on top that just fits inside the rim of the ramekin. Weigh down with a can (or something similar) and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, fold back the plastic wrap and invert the pudding onto a deep plate. Using a pastry brush, smear any pale areas of sponge with the reserved juice.