BY YVONNE NEWHAM
On a winter’s day, there is nothing quite as satisfying as the smell of a bread-based dessert coming from the oven. I remember as a child coming home from school to find that my mum had baked a bread pudding, fresh out of the oven, covered in glistening brown sugar, to be eaten later as dessert with custard.
Bread pudding is a dish with very old roots, it dates back centuries. It evolved as a use for stale bread because for much of human history, most people could not afford to waste food, thus several uses for stale bread were invented. In addition to bread pudding, cooks also used stale bread to make stuffing, thickeners, and edible serving containers. Although the Romans did use eggs as binding agents in various recipes, custard was not invented until the Middle Ages, so early bread puddings were probably made simply from milk, stale bread, fat and perhaps a sweetener. Bread puddings were not only popular amongst the Romans, ancient versions of bread pudding include Om Ali, an Egyptian dessert made from bread, milk or cream, raisins and almonds; Eish es Serny, a Middle Eastern dish made from dried bread, sugar, honey syrup, rosewater and caramel; and Shahi Tukra, an Indian dish made from bread, ghee, saffron, sugar, rosewater and almonds.
Today, bread-based puddings are far more luxurious and rarely made of stale bread. I personally prefer Bread and Butter Pudding as it’s not as stodgy as bread pudding and it has a softer custardy texture. As I still have an un-opened box of Panettone from Christmas, I will use this instead of bread and dried fruit. If you made a new year’s resolution to diet, look away now. Otherwise follow this easy recipe and make your tummy sing:
Butter, for greasing
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
200g caster sugar
500ml milk (I use whole milk)
500ml double cream
- Take a 30cm x 18cm baking dish and rub all over the inside with butter.
- Cut the panettone from top to bottom into four equal pieces. Take a quarter of the panettone and cut into 2.5cm slices. Repeat with the other quarters.
- Layer the baking tin with the panettone slices, with the crusts sticking out and slightly overlapping as you would a normal bread and butter pudding.
- Whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar until the sugar has been dissolved. Gradually add all the milk and cream. Leave to stand for a few minutes.
- Pour the custard over the panettone, allowing the custard to soak into the panettone then add until none left. Leave for 30mins to allow absorption of the liquid.
- Pre-heat oven to 160C / 325F / Gas 3
- Bake the panettone for about 40mins. The pudding should come out wobbly from the oven but not raw, if it is, just cook for another five minutes.
- Leave the pudding to sit for at least 30mins before serving with ice cold thick cream and a glass of Vin Santo
(Serves Six to Eight)