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Bread and butter pudding

When we returned from France, we had 2 baguettes leftover. As you may know, French bread is best on the day it is baked; it turns stale very quickly. And these baguettes were already 2 days old. I hate to throw away food, so I decided to make them into bread and butter pudding. A classic oven-baked British dessert, in which the bread is smeared with butter, scattered with raisins and soaked with custard. Officially it is dessert, but I rather have it as a (luxurious) weekend breakfast, since it is quite heavy. The recipe below is a mix of ones I found in several of my cookbooks, tweaked to my liking.

Pretty classic bread and butter pudding (serves 6-8)
2 stale baguettes, sliced, ends used for something else
25 g butter, melted
75 g sugar
100 g raisins

250 ml cream
350 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

2 tbsp sugar, to sprinkle on top.

Grease a large, deep ovenproof dish (18×23 cm) with a little of the butter.
Cover the base of the dish with about 1/3 of the slices of bread. Brush with 1/3 of the butter. Sprinkle with 1/2 the sugar and 1/2 the raisins. Layer the 2nd 1/3 of bread on top, brush again with butter and sprinkle the other half of the sugar and raisins over. Cover with the remaining portion of bread.
Mix cream, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, eggs and yolks. Pour over the pudding and leave to stand for 1 hour (can be kept overnight covered in the fridge).
Preheat the oven to 180C. Brush the top of the pudding with the remaining butter, then sprinkle over the sugar.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, crisp and slightly puffy. Serve immediately, don’t let it get cold.

Variation: you can used (white/brown) sliced bread with the crusts removed, or use brioche/croissants to make it extra luxurious.

Fruitcake

I think anyone should have a recipe for fruitcake. It is easy to make, most people will like it, you can play around a bit with the different kinds of dried/candied fruit in it, and importantly: it is a classic. Fruitcakes come ranging from very light to very heavy, this one falls a bit in between (to keep the baking time reasonable, and to make maturing not necessary). Often, fruitcakes contain alcohol, this cake doesn’t, but I expect that you can soak the raisins and currants in something alcoholic before adding them (make sure you dry them), or drizzle the cake with alcohol after baking. Because it contains so much dried fruit, it will stay fresh and tasty for quite a while.
The washing of the cherries may seem a bit of a weird step in the recipe, but it is a necessary one. The sticky layer around the cherries is hygroscopic, meaning it will attract water. This will locally make the batter very running, causing an uneven bake, and the cherries will sink to the bottom as well. And, if you can find them, use natural glacé cherries, not the luminescent ones. I couldn’t, so I did use the luminescent ones, because in my opinion, you cannot make fruitcake without glacé cherry.

Fruitcake

Fruitcake
Adapted from “Mary Berry’s Baking Bible”

100 g glacé cherries
100 g succade (candied peel)
75 g chopped dried apricots
50 g raisins
50 g currants
3 eggs
175 g self-raising flour
100 g softened butter
100 g brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 140C. Grease a loaf tin.
Cut the cherries into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well, then dry with kitchen paper.
Break the eggs into a large bowl. Add the flour, butter and sugar. Beat well until the mixture is smooth. Add the dried fruits and stir through. Pour into the prepared tin and level the top.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 80 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown, firm to the touch and shrinking away from the sides of the tin. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

Toad in the Hole

A British classic: sausages baked in Yorkshire pudding batter. The batter rises a lot, which gives lovely crispy edges, but the middle stays quite soft, fluffy and pancaky. Important to know: for the best results you need to make the batter a day in advance. You can make Yorkshire puddings with the same batter and via the same process (without the sausage), use a muffin tin if you don’t have a Yorkshire pudding tin. Yorkshire puddings are usually served as a side with roasts, and with an onion gravy.

ToadInTheHole2

Toad in the hole (serves 6)
Slightly adapted from James Martin – The Collection

225 g flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
5 medium eggs
600 ml milk

6 sausages
olive oil

25 g beef dripping or vegetable oil

Place the flour, salt, pepper and thyme in a bowl. Add all the eggs and whisk until smooth. Then stir in the milk. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 220C. Place a large Yorkshire pudding tin or a baking tin in the oven to warm.
Brown the sausages in a hot frying pan with a little oil. Take the batter from the fridge and stir gently.
Remove the hot tray from the oven, add the dripping and heat again until very hot.
Put the sausages in the middle of the tray and pour in the batter. Be careful, hot fat can make nasty burns! I like to do this with 2 persons, 1 steadies the tray on the baking rack (so that you don’t have to move the tray with the hot fat), the other places in the sausages and pours in the batter.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Don’t open the oven door while baking, otherwise your pudding will sink. Serve immediately.