This is an old-fashioned English dessert, both simple and refreshing. Mixed berries, whatever looks best at the market, are layered with toasted bread then weighted to form a cake (an English “pudding”). I use Portuguese sweet bread, a grocery-store reminder of the Portuguese whaling men who settled here in numbers beginning in the 1800s. Brioche or challah would work equally well.
- 1 Pound loaf sliced Portuguese sweet bread, crusts trimmed
- 8 Cups summer berries, a mixture of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and roughly chopped strawberries
- 3/4 Cups sugar
- 1 lemon, juiced
Toast the bread. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the bread on baking sheets and toast in the oven until golden, about 20 minutes.
Cook the berries. Reserve 1 cup of berries and place the remaining in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes.
Place the pan over medium heat and cook the berries until they soften and their juices thicken slightly, about 15 minutes. Allow the cooked berries to cool.
Assemble the “pudding.” Spoon a layer of cooked berries into a 2-quart high-sided casserole or flat-bottomed bowl. Arrange a layer of toasted bread on top of the berries, trimming the bread to fit. Put about a third of the reserved raw berries on the bread then repeat, layering cooked berries (and their syrup), bread, and fresh berries until you have enough for one last layer. In this final layer, top the cooked berries with the last of the fresh berries, then finish with toasted bread. Cover with plastic wrap, and top with a small plate and a heavy weight. Chill the weighted pudding overnight.