11 June 2012

Sophie Dahl - Girl Crush - and her bread pudding

I need to blog, so I'm blogging about bread pudding.

Bread pudding is a very ugly thing. Even the name, before I ever tasted the dish, sounded ugly and unappetizing to me as a child. Bread? Pudding? Being offered bread pudding was not unlike the first time I was ever offered an ice cream sandwich, which I turned it down in absolute four-year-old disgust. An ice cream sandwich? Get real mom. I do not want Meadow Gold French Vanilla smashed between two Wonder Bread slices, thanks. (My mom didn't actually buy Wonder Bread - the horror - but you get the idea.) But as I meekly nibbled at the ice cream sandwich, my taste buds were converted and dessert discrimination came to an end. Don't judge desserts by their name, folks. Take for instance, the rhubarb buckle that's on my roster of things to bake. What the heck are they doing naming desserts after belts? Are they trying to keep it all to themselves? What's the deal here exactly in the dessert-naming department? But as a proper adult, it is my duty, nay, privilege, to indiscriminately sample all desserts, regardless of the thoughtlessness of their little dessert-y names.

And so on to bread pudding. Find your stalest bread. One should always have a loaf of stale bread on hand for things such as bread pudding, croutons, or bread crumbs; among other such delicious things. You should have fancy bread, namely panettone, but my luck in finding said fancy loaves is slim. A good sweet-crumbed bread will suffice. Roughly cube your bread and layer in a pretty baking pan. I used my vintage Le Creuset pan that I scored at a flea market for $15, but we aren't all so lucky, so make do as you will. Pour on top a custard of cream, eggs, milk, and vanilla. And other things, I think, but I'm not looking at the recipe. Bake for a long time. You should probably have a nice snack, like hard-boiled eggs and radishes dipped in butter, for waiting. Serve the bread pudding warm with tea.

Pannetone bread-and-butter pudding
From Sophie Dahl's Very Fond of Food

2 1/2 cups/600 ml half-and-half
1 3/4 cups-450 ml milk (I always use whole milk)
3 eggs
1 vanilla bean (or about 1 T. good quality vanilla extract)
1/2 cup/150 g superfine sugar
1 medium-sized panettone (or other sweet-crumbed bread)
Butter, for spreading
1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (I omitted the nutmeg for cinnamon, as nutmeg feels a little too Christmas-y for a summer bread pudding)
1/4 cup/150 g brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C

Whisk together the half-and-half, milk, and eggs. Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the egg and cream mixture. Add the superfine sugar and whisk some more.

Slice the panettone into thick slices and butter each slice. Arrange the buttered panettone slices into an ovenproof dish. Scatter with the apple and sprinkle with the nutmeg (or cinnamon). Pour over the custard and make sure the panettone is evenly soaked. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar.

Bake for 20-30 minutes (I swear, 30 minutes feels so much longer when you're hungry) or until golden and crispy. Serve hot. (With tea!)

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