Bread and butter pudding, but better

This mouth-watering version is light and moist with berries and white chocolate

Red fruit and white chocolate bread and butter pudding.  Photograph:  Harry Weir

Red fruit and white chocolate bread and butter pudding. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

As the weather changes and the nights get a little shorter, there’s something so comforting about bread and butter pudding. It consists of layers of generously buttered slices of white bread, scattered with raisins, steeped in custard with a hint of nutmeg.

These days, teenagers make a jazzed-up version with brioche or panettone to the consternation of many mums, dashing around supermarket aisles gathering ingredients for the next day’s home economics assignment.

A tutor who joined us from a culinary school in the US once made a glorious bread pudding with dark rum. His mouth-watering version was light and moist with berries and white chocolate. It was an instant hit and he was hounded by our students until he wrote down the recipe. He called it a New Orleans bread pudding, where bourbon is the traditional hard liqueur used in the custard. Since New Orleans was an early European settlement founded by the French, it is no surprise that this “pain perdu” dessert developed its own identity, becoming one of Louisiana’s iconic desserts.

In The Big Easy, anything goes and while it is traditionally made from leftover baguette, modern versions have been known to be made with hamburger buns. We use not stale, but day-old Italian ciabatta bread in this recipe. The soft spongy crust and honeycombed holes in ciabatta provide a robust texture and crust to the pudding. We now consider ciabatta a key ingredient in bread pudding.

Naturally, you may not want to use an alcoholic liqueur such as rum in your baking but it is perfectly acceptable to use up to 2 tablespoons of rum essence for that distinctive fruity caramel aroma, but not much more. Alternatively, serve it with rum and raisin ice-cream.

Frozen berries cost a fraction of the price of fresh berries but, if not available, you can use fresh raspberries and blackberries. It’s delicious served with ice-cream and whipped cream. A light crème anglaise with dried cranberries soaked in rum might be the ultimate accompaniment to this boozy dinner party dessert.

BOOZY BREAD PUDDING

Serves four

Ingredients
10g butter
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
125ml cream
125ml milk
75ml dark rum (or 30ml rum essence)
150g caster sugar
½ tsp nutmeg
1 medium ciabatta bread
150g frozen berries, drained of excess juice
50g white chocolate, chips

Method
1
 Preheat the oven to 180°C. Use butter to grease a medium size ovenproof dish.

2 In a jug combine the eggs, egg yolk, milk, cream and dark rum. Add in the sugar and nutmeg, and whisk vigorously until the sugar has dissolved into the liquid.

3 Slice the ciabatta loaf crossways into 1cm slices. 

4 Place the sliced ciabatta bread into a large mixing bowl and pour the custard over the bread and stir until it is fully coated. Cover and leave to soak for 45 minutes (or up to 1 hour). Stir occasionally.

5 Fill the buttered dish with a layer of the soaked bread (use half the bread for the first layer). Join the bread up so there are no gaps, by cutting some pieces to a smaller size so everything is packed nice and tight.

6 Scatter with half the white chocolate. Next, cover with the berries, then the remainder of the white chocolate chips.

7 Add a second layer of bread, neatly packed with no gaps.

8 Cover with tinfoil and bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 25mins. Remove the tinfoil and continue to bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until it has a golden crust. 

9 Once baked, remove it from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Serve hot with ice-cream.

Variation
Other liqueurs that can be substituted for rum include brandy, sherry or whiskey, with a taste difference of course. A dash of almond essence would also add a nice “non rum” flavour. 

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