2½ cups fresh raspberries
2 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons apricot or pear brandy
1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
2-inch piece orange peel
1 medium white bread loaf, such as brioche or milk bread, crusts removed and sliced about ⅓-inch thick
Edible flowers and leaves of lemon verbena, for decoration (optional)
Freshly whipped cream, for serving (optional)
1. Combine the raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and brandy and bring the berries to a gentle simmer. Add the strawberries and orange peel and reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking the fruit for 2 minutes more, just until softened but still intact. Drain the berries through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium heatproof bowl, capturing the juices. Discard the orange peel and set the berries aside.
2. Line a 2-quart high-sided glass bowl or gelatin mold with plastic wrap, leaving a 4-inch overhang around the edges of the dish.
3. Dip the bread slices in the berry juice and line the bowl with the soaked slices of bread, cutting some slices in half or diagonally to fit the shape of the bowl.
4. Fill the soaked bread–lined bowl with the cooked berries. Top the berries with more juice-dipped bread slices. Wrap the surface of the pudding with the plastic wrap overhang. Place a plate on the surface of the covered pudding and set a soup can on top of the plate to weigh it down.
5. Chill the pudding for at least 8 hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve, unwrap the plastic from the surface of the pudding and invert onto a cake platter. Gently remove the plastic film from the pudding, decorate with edible flowers and lemon verbena leaves, if using, and serve slices with a generous scoop of whipped cream, if desired.