I cannot bring myself to eat white soggy bread. With that in mind, I took a little culinary artistic license and used Madeira loaf, which adds sweetness.
By Lorraine Pascale
From Lorraine Pascale: How to be a Better Cook
1 vanilla pod, seeds only (or a few drops of vanilla extract)
175g/6oz soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp dark rum, port or a blackcurrant liqueur
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1kg/2lb 4oz fresh summer berries (such as a mixture of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and redcurrants), stalks removed
2 Madeira loaf cakes
small handful of fresh mint leaves, for decoration
For the warm chocolate sauce
125ml/4oz double cream
100g/3½oz dark chocolate (or a mix of dark and milk if preferred), finely chopped
3 tbsp just-boiled water
Put the sugar in a large pan with 100ml/3½fl oz water, place over a medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the alcohol, vanilla seeds (or extract) and then turn up the heat and let it bubble away for 3-4 minutes to make a thin syrup. Turn down the heat to low and stir in the cinnamon and ginger.
Set aside 250g/9oz of the berries for decoration and place about a quarter of the remainder in a separate bowl. Add all the remaining berries to the pan, stirring them gently through. Leave to cook for two minutes, or until the fruit is soft but still holding its shape. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 20 minutes. The sauce should now be syrupy, a deep-browny, red colour and very glossy.
Meanwhile, line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with a double layer of cling film, leaving any excess hanging over the edge. Slice each Madeira cake into eight 2cm/¾in slices.
Stir the reserved quarter of berries gently into the cooled sauce. Tip the mixture into a large sieve placed over a medium bowl. Leave for two minutes to allow the syrup to drain through but do not press as you don’t want the fruit to become mushy. Sit the sieve on the pan so you can use the fruity syrup you have in the bowl for now.
Dip a slice of Madeira cake into the syrup, flip it over and then allow excess syrup to drip off. Place it against one of the long sides of the loaf tin. Continue to dip the slices in the syrup and use 3-4 slices along each side of the tin to cover. Place one on each end and then 2-3 slices along the bottom, breaking up to fit, if necessary. Reserve the remaining slices for the top.
Tip the berries from the sieve into the cake lined loaf tin, spreading them evenly. Add any syrup in the pan to the remaining syrup in the bowl and dip the remaining Madeira slices to coat as before. Press the slices on top of the berries to completely cover. Reserve any remaining syrup and store it covered in the fridge for use later.
Cover the loaf with the excess cling film and place a small baking tray or a long plate on top. If you have room in your fridge, you can weigh the tray down with a couple of cans of food or something similar to help compress the fruit. Place in the fridge for about six hours, or overnight, until set firm.
About 10 minutes before serving, make the chocolate sauce. Put the cream in a medium pan over a medium heat and keep a close eye on it, remove just before it comes to the boil. Break the chocolate into the cream and leave to melt for five minutes before gently stirring together. Stir in the hot water to give a smooth, pourable consistency. Pour into a serving jug and keep warm.
Open out the cling film on the Madeira cake, turn a serving plate upside down on top of the loaf and turn both over. Remove the tin and peel off the cling film to reveal the pudding. Brush all over with the reserved syrup and decorate the top with the reserved berries and mint leaves. Serve at once with the chocolate sauce. The loaf can be cut into eight slices using a long sharp knife.