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Red-Fruit Summer Pudding

The fruits are heated gently to release their crimson juices, and then layered with sliced bread and chilled overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Garnished with additional fresh fruit, this ruby beauty makes a dramatic statement.

Ingredients :

* 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered, plus more for garnish
* 12 ounces sweet cherries, pitted and halved, plus more for garnish
* 10 ounces red plums (about 2), pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges, plus more for garnish
* 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
* 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
* 1/4 cup water
* 12 ounces raspberries, plus more for garnish
* 2 tablespoons Cointreau
* 1 1/2 loaves Pullman bread or brioche (about 1 1/2 pounds total), crusts removed, bread cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
* Red currants on the stems, for garnish
* Strawberries on the vine, for garnish

Directions :

1. Put strawberries, cherries, plums, brown sugar, salt, vanilla bean and seeds, lemon juice, and water into a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, gently stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until fruits release juices and are just soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in raspberries and Cointreau.

2. Pour fruit mixture through a sieve into a shallow bowl, pressing lightly on solids; discard vanilla bean. Transfer fruit mixture to another bowl. Set both aside.

3. Line a 9-inch bowl with plastic wrap, allowing a 3-inch overhang. Working one at a time, quickly dip bread slices into juices, flipping to coat both sides; arrange in prepared bowl, covering bottom and sides completely and trimming to fit if needed. Spread with 1 cup fruit mixture, and then top with more dipped bread. Repeat, using 1 1/2 cups fruit mixture between layers and finishing with bread.

4. Cover with plastic overhang. Top with a plate small enough to fit just inside rim, and weigh with soup cans. Refrigerate overnight (or up to 2 days). Unmold pudding onto a platter; remove plastic wrap. Garnish with fruits.

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