Bread pudding

March 29, 2010

Not to be confused with bread and butter pudding, although it does contain bread and indeed butter. The main difference here is that, instead of the bread being baked in a custard, after being soaked in milk it’s mushed together and baked in a tray so that you get something altogether more solid and with a crusty sugary top.

You can serve this warm with custard, in which case it’s slightly softer but still dense, almost the consistency of a thick porridge or a really stodgy crumble, but when cool its density makes it quite cake-like, so any leftovers are good in slices at room-temperature with a cup of tea. I think you could easily get away with eating it for breakfast, even if the idea of cake for breakfast usually seems alarmingly hedonistic (it does to me).

Having eaten my first bread and butter pudding shockingly recently (custard was something I had textural issues with as a child and it’s taken me a while to get over) I like to think I’m making up for lost time in the world of sweetened stale bread. I now love bread and butter pudding, and although this is quite different, I like it a lot too.

Bread pudding  Serves 4 or more

8 slices of stale bread (I used sourdough)
300ml milk
200g dried fruit (I used sultanas, which are probably obligatory, plus cranberries and figs because they’re my favourite)
zest of 1 orange, grated
100g dark brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice (whoops! forgot to put this in)
50g butter, melted
2 tbsp caster sugar

Cut the crusts off the bread and soak the slices in milk for 30 minutes. Drain and squeeze out any excess liquid (the recipe suggests putting the bread in a colander with something heavy on top for a few minutes). Heat the oven to 180c.

Move the bread to a bowl and mush it up with a fork until it breaks down into a soft, even consistency. Chop up any large pieces of dried fruit and mix all of the fruit into the bread mix with the orange zest, brown sugar, mixed spice and butter. Mix well.

Grease a 20cm x 20cm baking tray and scoop in the mixture. Roughly level the top and sprinkle with the caster sugar. Now, the recipe says to bake the pudding for an hour and a half. I trustingly left it in the oven while I got on with eating some beef stew and dumplings, but it ended up a bit charred around the edges and the raisins on top were cindered. It was fine, but quite chewy. I think check after 45 minutes and perhaps about an hour would do it. Leave in the tin for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Adapted from Tom Norrington-Davies’ ‘Just Like Mother Used To Make’.

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