Ah, fast and easy – two of my favorite words!

Especially in the heart of summer, when there are a million things to do outside.

Like mow the lawn, take a bike ride, or simply sit on the deck with a cold drink and some homemade salsa and chips.

And then, there's berry picking. This is the time of year when raspberries and blueberries and blackberries, some growing wild, some at the local farm, await my arrival, bowl in hand.

All I need is time – a limited commodity. In order to spend more time outdoors, I spend less in the kitchen – not an unhappy prospect, given the weeks of temperatures in the 90s we've experienced this summer.

Still, I can't give up on dessert. “Sweet nothings” in my house have more to do with easy desserts, than with anything whispered in my ear.

And the fastest, easiest dessert I've come up with this summer is this simple Fast & Easy Blueberry Bread Pudding, cooked in the microwave.

MICROWAVE, you say? Absolutely. Read on...

Let's start with a 1/2” slice of soft sandwich bread. Our Classic Sandwich Bread is, well... classic!

Butter the bread, and sprinkle it with cinnamon-sugar.

Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes – 1/2” to 3/4” is good.

Next, mix the following in a measuring cup or small bowl:

1 large egg
1/3 cup milk or half & half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons sugar; use the greater amount of sugar if your blueberries are tart

Layer the buttered bread with the berries in a microwave-safe bowl. Pick a bowl large enough to leave room for expansion.

Frankly, this bowl wasn't QUITE big enough. You'll see why in a minute.

Pour the milk mixture over the bread and berries.

Hmmm, looking kind of full. As you can see at the bottom, some of the milk has already overflowed.

Well, let's see this through to the end.

Microwave the pudding for 2 minutes, uncovered. At what power? Not sure; our microwave only seems to have one level. But 2 minutes should be safe to start.

Whoops! Lucky I planned ahead and set the dish onto a plate to catch any spills.

Check and see if the pudding is still liquid. If it is, microwave in 30-second bursts, till pudding is cooked all the way to the center; the very center can still look a bit uncooked, but it shouldn't be liquid.

Remove from the microwave. Yup, this dish was definitely too small.

This is what you call a “rustic” presentation. Rustic is a great all-purpose adjective for when things get a little messy.

Garnish with fresh berries, if desired. Serve warm; whipped cream or ice cream are always welcome.

Can you make this with raspberries and oatmeal bread? How about chopped peaches and whole wheat? Can you NOT spread the bread with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar?

Yes, yes, and yes.

This recipe is nothing if not versatile – it's as much technique and inspiration as anything else. Go wherever your imagination takes you...

A few comments: If you have time, pour the milk/egg over the bread and let it rest 10 to 15 minutes before microwaving. This will make a softer, “creamier” pudding.

Also, when you cook the berries in the pudding, they release their juice. Some testers liked this; some thought it looked messy. If you don't want purple juice in your pudding, cook it without berries, then garnish with berries after it's cooked.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Fast & Easy Blueberry Bread Pudding.

PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, three dogs, and really good food!

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