Food

Fig and Thyme Summer Pudding

I recently moved into a home with a fig tree in the backyard. Now that it is late summer, hundreds of figs have been ripening more quickly than I can use them. I have been experimenting with all sorts of recipes, from basic preserves to cobblers. But one of my favorites so far has been this fig and thyme summer pudding. It makes use of fresh figs and stale bread and becomes a delicious snacking cake, perfect for a hot summer afternoon tea time.

I let quite a few figs go to waste before realizing that the ones on our tree will never turn purplish as I was expecting! Instead they remain green, but become soft and spotty and begin to split open at the bottom. The insides are strawberry red and jammy. These particular figs are absolutely delicious fresh off the tree. I am still not absolutely positive on the variety, but I think they are Adriatic figs.

Making a summer pudding is simple: you combine some cooked fresh fruit with juices and stale bread in a bowl and allow the bread to soak up the liquid and take the shape of the bowl. I first discovered summer pudding from an episode of Barefoot Contessa – I always say Ina Garten taught me how to cook and it really is true! This is her recipe for Peach and Berry Summer Pudding, which is a bit more fanciful and uses brioche.

I made my summer pudding using some stale sourdough sandwich bread. We are always caught in limbo between buying one and two loaves of bread each week – one is rarely enough but we don’t usually get through two loaves before it starts going stale or moldy. Recipes like this help us use it all up!

This recipe comes together really quickly. You only need to slice fresh figs into quarters and simmer them in a little water and a sweetener of your choice for a few minutes until soft and juicy. I added some thyme leaves as well and found them to be a delightful addition. Once you have your softened figs and liquid, you only have to layer it in a bowl with pieces of stale bread and wait a few hours for the magic to happen.

Serve this fig and thyme summer pudding with a freshly brewed cup of tea (or a gin and tonic…or both). Bonus points if you have dedicated tea time plates and teacups, like these I found at an antique store! They have a little ring for the teacup to sit in but enough room for some snacks on the plate as well. I never knew these existed until recently but I will definitely be collecting them now.

Fig and Thyme Summer Pudding

This simple recipe uses stale bread and fresh fruit, and comes together quickly for the perfect afternoon tea accompaniment.
Course Snack

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb fresh figs quartered but not peeled
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 slices sourdough bread or other bread of choice – stale is fine!

Instructions
 

  • Place the quartered figs in a pan with 2 tbsp of water, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, and the thyme sprigs. Simmer until the figs are soft and releasing their juices. Add the sugar and continue to simmer until thickened – it will still be much thinner than jam or preserves. Remove the thyme branches.
  • Spray a large soup bowl with cooking oil, or line with cling film. Spoon a little of the fig mixture into the bowl. Tear up the bread into large pieces and fit a layer into the bottom of the bowl, filling in as many gaps as possible. Spread some fig mixture over the first layer of bread, and then add a second layer. Repeat until all the bread and fig mixture is layered into the bowl.
  • Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours to soak in. When the bread has soaked up all the juice and the pudding seems firm, turn out the pudding into a plate. Garnish with fresh thyme, figs, or powdered sugar. Serve with tea.