California summer pudding
25 minutes, plus 12 hours chilling time
6 to 8
3/4 pound brioche, challah or egg bread
1 1/2 pounds peaches
3/4 pound blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons brandy
1. Trim the crusts
from the bread and if it has not been sliced, cut it in roughly one-third-inch slices. Stack the slices and cut them in half diagonally to make triangles.
2. Line a 6-cup mold
or bowl with plastic wrap, fitting the wrap tightly into the corners. Make sure you have a plate small enough to fit just inside the rim of the bowl. If not, cut a stiff cardboard circle that will fit and wrap it in aluminum foil (to be used in Step 6).
3. Piece together
the bread slices in a single layer so they completely line the bowl. There should be no gaps, but the fit doesn't have to be exact — wherever the bread overlaps, simply press the edges together tightly. Trim the bread where it comes over the top of the bowl.
4. Cut a shallow "X"
in the base of each peach, and then dunk the peaches in rapidly boiling water until you see the peel start to come loose at the cut — about 20 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Remove the peaches from the water and rinse under cold running water. The peels should slip off easily; if they don't, return the fruit briefly to the boiling water. Pit the peaches and cut them into chunks.
5. Combine the peaches,
blackberries and sugar in a saucepan and warm over medium heat. Cook just until the fruit begins to soften and release its juice, 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the brandy.
6. Spoon the fruit
into the bowl; there should be enough that it mounds a little above the lip. Place a sheet of plastic wrap loosely across the top, then place the plate or cardboard circle on top. Press gently and stack a heavy can on top (tomatoes work great). Refrigerate at least 12 hours.
7. When ready to serve,
remove the plate and the top layer of plastic wrap. Place a serving plate on top of the bowl or mold and invert the bowl so the pudding will unmold onto the serving plate. If the pudding resists unmolding, hold the plastic wrap and jiggle gently until it does unmold cleanly. Remove the plastic wrap lining.
8. Serve immediately
with lightly sweetened whipped cream or yogurt.