Cold-Weather Cooking

bread pudding

Winter is just around the corner – the nights are starting to get chilly, scarves and boots and back in fashion and I’ve been craving warm, comforting food. Around this time of year, the kitchen is one of my favourite places to be second only to under a blanket. Cold-weather cooking makes the winter easier to bear. Hearty soups and stews are on the menu, along with pies and puddings. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The other day I told you all about my adventures with making Tartine Bakery’s brioche recipe. It was certainly an interesting experience! I ended up making five small loaves of brioche. One was eaten for breakfast, warm out of the oven, there are three are currently sitting in my freezer waiting for next time and the final loaf became bread pudding.

Once all the hard work was done, putting the pudding together was an absolutely cinch. I made my brioche puddings in small individual ramekins rather than in a large dish and added a handful of raspberries to each for a bit of extra flavour. You could of course use almost any kind of seasonal fruit, or sultanas, or even omit it altogether and serve the puddings with a fruit sauce instead.

Interestingly the custard is not cooked prior to being added to the puddings, which surprised me a little as I had never made bread pudding before. But as the puddings are baked, the custard cooks in the oven and sets slightly as it cools. It is important not to overcrowd the brioche slices when assembling the pudding as they expand once the custard is added.

Brioche Bread Pudding
Adapted from Tartine Bakery Cookbook
Makes 4 small puddings

• 6 brioche slices, cut 1 inch thick
• Fresh or frozen raspberries

• 4 large eggs
• ½ cup sugar
• 2 cups milk
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Butter four small ramekins, or line with non-stick baking paper.
2. Arrange the brioche slices on a baking sheet and place in the oven until lightly toasted, 4-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
3. To make the custard, crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk until blended. Add the sugar and whisk until smooth. Add the milk, vanilla and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve over a small jug. This will make pouring the custard into the dish much easier.
4. Place the toasted brioche into prepared ramekins, cutting or tearing them to fit as needed, and scatter raspberries between the layers of brioche. Pour the custard evenly over the bread. You may not be able to add all the custard at this point. Let sit for about 10 minutes or so to absorb.
5. Just before baking, top the dishes with more custard if the previous addition has been completely absorbed. Cover the dishes with aluminium foil and baking for about 1 hour. To test for done-ness, uncover the dish, slip a knife into the center and push the bread aside. If the custard is still very liquid, bake for another 10 minures. If only a little liquid remains, the pudding is ready. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

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