Photos and story by Julie Van Rosendaal

For spring and summer ­— from warm cobblers to layered trifles, gelled panna cottas and syllabubs, there’s something satisfying about a pudding beyond the kind that comes out of a box.

These elaborate fruit-based desserts you serve up with a spoon, old-fashioned flummeries and grunts are the things summer dreams are made of.

The parameters of what constitutes a pudding is broad; our minds might first go to soft, milk-based custards — one dictionary definition of a pudding — but then there are puddings made with stale bread, dried-fruit-studded, moulded and steamed puddings, and syrup-drenched sponges. Even crisp, eggy Yorkshire puddings have the same name. Unless you’re British, in which case all desserts are referred to as pudding, it’s a safe argument that any sweet thing you’d default to serving with a spoon could be considered a pudding.

In spring and summer, rhubarb, berries and juicy stone fruits like peaches, apricots and plums are well-suited to such desserts, and can be used interchangeably or in combination with each other, with enough sugar to suit your taste or the tartness of the fruit. If you find yourself flipping through old cookbooks, you’ll likely come across dozens of methods for fancy chilled jellies and puddings designed to revive stale bread or cake; pudding is just the thing when juicy fruit is at its peak.

Be sure to check out Julie’s recipes for Berry Cornmeal Cobbler and Rhubarb Charlotte!

Stone Fruit Flummery

Some of the less recognizable puddings have the best names, like a flummery: chunks of cake topped with custard, sliced fruit and meringue, almost like a plated trifle that thriftily makes use of stale cake. (Made with berries,rhubarb and stone fruits, it’s a summery flummery.) If you like, swap whippedcream for the torched Italian meringue. (This quantity of meringue is enoughfor 4-6, but can be easily doubled if you need more.)
Servings 6


  • Sliced stone fruits or berries
  • Sugar, to taste
  • Leftover cake, cubed

Italian Meringue

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice optional
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla


  • Toss your fruit or berries with sugar to taste and let sit for 10 minutes or so, until the fruit releases some of its juice. (Roughly mash the berries or fruit, if you like, to break it down and make it saucier.) Assemble the cake cubes over a platter or large plate, and top with the fruit.
  • To make the meringue, bring the sugar and water (and lemon juice, if you like-it helps keep the syrup from crystalizing, but isn’t necessary) to a boil in a small saucepan and cook, swirling the pan, until the temperature reaches 240˚F on an instant-read thermometer.
  • Meanwhile, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; with the beaters running, slowly pour in the hot syrup in a thin stream, and continue beating until stiff peaks form. When it has the texture of shaving cream, beat in the vanilla. Spread over the fruit and cake and run under the broiler for a minute or two, or torch with a blow torch until browned on the surface.
  • Serves as many as you like.