Makes 8 servings
For the Pudding:
1 1/2 pounds mixed berries (about 5 cups)
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
10 to 15 slices soft white bread (from a Pullman-style loaf), crusts removed
For the Custard (Makes about 2 1/2 cups):
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons rosewater or vanilla extract (or to taste)
1. To make the pudding, combine the berries, sugar, and 1/3 cup water in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and berries release their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. The sauce should be sweet, with a hint of tartness. Adjust with more sugar or lemon juice as needed.
2. Spoon an even layer of berry syrup (not the berries themselves) in the bottom of an 8-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with a single layer of bread; cut the bread into pieces as necessary to make it fit. Spoon 1/3 of the fruit on top of the bread, making sure the bread is completely coated; top with a layer of bread. Spoon another 1/3 of the fruit over the bread; top with another layer of bread. Spoon the remaining 1/3 of the fruit over the bread. Let the mixture cool completely, then wrap the pan tightly with plastic wrap. Place a light weight (a thick and preferably trashy paperback novel is perfect) on top of the pudding. Refrigerate overnight.
3. To make the crème Anglaise, prepare a large ice water bath. Bring the milk and cream to barely a simmer in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (bubbles will just begin to form around the edges).
4. In a bowl slightly smaller than the ice water bath, whisk together the yolks, sugar, and salt. Slowly whisk in the hot milk until fully incorporated. Return the mixture to the pot. Cook, stirring constantly over medium-high heat, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (170° F). Strain sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Stir in the rosewater. If it needs a bit more, go ahead and add it but please don’t overdo it or it will taste like soap. Place the bowl into the water bath and stir occasionally until completely cool.
5. Run a knife around the sides of the summer pudding, then turn it over onto a plate to unmold. Serve in slices with the custard on the side.