This is a recipe from the UK’s Rachel Allen that Kim (see previous post A Very Mini Artist’s Colony) has adapted slightly. I have to say it is the very best bread pudding I’ve ever had. The bread turns into a kind of tender cake that sits in the midst of a creamy custard, while the apples and raisins somehow mix all through the whole dish offering sweet little surprises here and there. And the layer of bread on top turns into a crunchy, sweet crust that is making me weak in the knees just thinking about it. Trust me, this is one recipe you simply must try. Period.
Kim doubled this recipe to fill the two, one quart baking dishes. He used Braeburn apples and added 1/2 teaspoon salt to the cream mixture. This pudding was made especially good because he used his very own fabulous homemade country loaf (see previous post Adventures in the Art of Bread Making). I recommend buying the best bread you can get. Here in Santa Fe Whole Foods has an excellent bakery.
Rachel’s quote: “This is a divine way to use slightly older bread, the bread is buttered with creamy Kerrygold butter, soaked in the custard and then when baked in the oven it provides a wonderfully crisp crust to the sweet moist custard beneath. I’ve used apple, raisins and rum for a twist on an old classic, but you could leave out the rum if you’d prefer.”
· 200g (7oz) cooking apples, such as Bramley
· 150g (5oz) raisins
· 150g (5oz) Baker’s sugar
· 450ml (2 cups rounded up) single or regular cream (Kim used heavy cream)
(Kim added 1/4 tsp. salt to the cream mixture)
· 225ml (1 cup rounded up) milk
· 50ml (1.7 oz.) dark rum (optional)
· 1 T granulated sugar
· 12 slices of white bread, crusts removed
· 4 eggs
· Kerrygold butter, for spreading
· Pinch of ground cinnamon (optional) (Kim used much more)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°f/180°C/Gas mark 4.
2. Trim the crusts off of the bread…
… and then spread one side with Kerrygold butter…
… and cut into smaller pieces, according to your dish, and arrange in a buttered ovenproof dish, butter side down.
3. Peel and core the cooking apples and cut into 2cm (½”) chunks. Place the pieces and raisins in a layer on top of the bread.
4. Then arrange the remaining bread, again butter side down and overlapping if necessary, to cover the fruit (Kim added another whole bread/apple/raisin layer before putting on the final top layer of bread).
5. Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan, bring to just under the boil and remove from the heat.
6. While the milk and cream are heating up, whisk together the eggs and Baker’s sugar in a large bowl.
7. Add the hot cream, milk and the rum (if using) to the egg mixture–a little at a time so as not to cook the eggs–and whisk to combine…
… then pour this custard over the bread and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top and the cinnamon (if using). (Kim used an especially rich and complex Vietnamese cinnamon).
8. Put the dish in a bain-marie (a roasting tin filled with just enough boiled water to come halfway up the side of the dish).
9. Place in the oven and bake for about 1 hour until the top is golden and the center set.
Cooking note: Do not let the water boil while cooking.
Rachel’s Tip: This can be prepared in advance and left in the fridge overnight, uncooked. If making it this way, don’t heat up the milk and cream but add them cold to the whisked eggs and sugar.