Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's good: Bread n' Butter pud


I've been missing England and Englishness lately, so the other day I cracked and made a bread and butter pudding.

Now, to North American ears this might not sound like anything good, but believe me, it is worth a try. It's ridiculously cheap and easy and the result is a sort of souffle kind of thing with cakey layers surrounded by lovely fluffy eggy, custardy, lemony, sugary, raisiny stuff with a layer of gorgeous crunchy sweet goldeny stuff on top. And plus, I put fruit in.

Plums. Oh baby!

Take:

several thick slices of soft white bread, crusts off (I used left over hamburger and hotdog buns, which were perfect)
four eggs
three cups of milk
half a cup of brown sugar
tsp of ground nutmeg
three tablespoons white sugar
grated rind of one lemon
fresh butter
1/2 tsp salt

Optional (and non-traditional): plums, peaches or some other tart fresh fruit that will bake well. (Advise staying away from hard fruit like apples which will not have time to soften.)

and a cast iron enamelled dutch oven that you bought for a pound at the 50p shop.

Combine the milk, white sugar and lemon zest in a pan and set on a low heat to bring to a simmer. When the milk comes to the boiling point, take it off the heat and set it aside to let the lemon zest to steep into the milk.

Line the dutch oven with greaseproof paper so that the edges of the paper stick out the top and grease the paper inside the dutch oven with lots of butter. Cut up some teeny chunks of butter and drop them on the bottom.

Butter the bread on both sides and line the bottom of the dutch oven.

Mix the brown sugar, salt and nutmeg and sprinkle generously all over the buttered bread. Add a layer of raisins. Slice up the fruit, if you're going to use it, and add it as a layer after the raisins. Add some more little bitty chunks of butter if you're a big butter fan, (which you really ought to be; butter is one of God's little love-notes to humans). With soft fruit, suggest not peeling, since without the peel they loose all structure and just sort of disappear.

Repeat the above bread-layering exercise, leaving about an inch or so of room in the dutch oven. (Don't put the fruit or raisins on the top layer, as they will just burn and be inedible.)

Beat the eggs until they are very frothy. The eggs are the key to the fluffiness and the more you beat them the better.

When the milk/lemon mixture has cooled a bit (it cools better if you transfer it from the saucepan to a stainless steel mixing bowl), add the eggs while beating very fast with a whisk. Make sure the milk is not too hot, or the eggs will cook and the result will be scrambled eggs.

Pour the egg milk mixture over the bread layers. The milk should come up to just cover the top layer of bread. Sprinkle another generous layer of brown sugar and nutmeg over the top. Allow about 1/2 hour for the bread to soak up the liquid.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1/2 an hour or until the top has gone golden and crispy.

Eat.

Best eaten hot out of the oven, but can be saved a couple of days in the fridge and makes a fabulous breakfast. Bung a piece of it into a non-stick frying pan on a medium flame with about three tablespoons of water to make some steam. The steam heats the whole thing through.