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Slow Bread Pudding

08 Jan

The bread pudding we make at our house is basically a caramel custard with bread for extra oomph (real reason: it’s a convenient way to get rid of leftover stale bread. There is a limit to the amount of breadcrumbs a person can make and consume). So if you have a creme caramel / caramel custard / flan recipe, like the one above in the video, just add the bread and you’ve got delicious bread pudding! Or else, follow these directions:

Bread Pudding for Dummies!

Ingredients

Milk – 1 litre or quarter gallon

Sugar – 2 cups + approx. 1/2 cup granulated sugar for caramel

Eggs – 6 + 2 yolks (optional)

Custard powder – 1 tbsp (optional – I’ve never actually used this till now but my mother keeps telling me I should)

White Bread – Half to three quarter loaf or whatever bread you have left. Mixture at end should still be liquidy so stop before the bread soaks up all the liquid. Croissants are okay (all that butter is yummy for pudding), but pass on whole wheat or multi-grain bread. You could use it, but I have no idea what that would taste like. I usually make breadcrumbs out of those. Tell me if it works out for you if that’s the only thing you have in the house.

Vanilla – 2 tsp or one pod (if you have Food Network, you know what to do: slit the pod lengthwise, use the blunt end of the knife or point and scrape along the innards and then dump both the shell and the inner scrapings into whatever mixture you’re using).

Nutmeg – 1 tsp freshly grated OR 1/2 tsp powdered (optional, increase quantity if you’re a huge fan of nutmeg. I always have fresh nutmeg and might go up to a half tsp more if I’m using a vanilla pod)

Walnuts – optional, to taste. I use “a handful”, roughly chopped.

Water – as needed.

Utensils

Two pans – one should be large enough to hold the pudding mixture but small enough to fit inside the other pan. If you’re using an oven, I suggest a souffle pot placed in a lasagna pan. It works for me. But really, anything goes as long as its not nonstick. This is not a nonstick friendly recipe, so put that thought out of your head. Although the larger pot/ pan could be nonstick. It’s going to be used as a water bath so that’s all right. The main dish, i.e. the smaller pot that’s going to hold the pudding mixture, needs to be either ceramic or metal though.

If you’re using the burner method, make sure the smaller pot has a rim of some kind so the plastic cover won’t slip off.

Method

Okay, like I said, if you have a caramel custard / creme caramel / flan recipe that you swear by, then use that. Otherwise, here’s my culinarily challenged method for a dish that sounds fearsomely complicated but really isn’t.

First decide whether you’re going to be using the oven or the burner (read directions below in the Cooking section and make up your mind) and choose your main dish accordingly. Now you need a caramel sauce to coat the bottom.

If you’re using a souffle dish, then take a small pan and pour about 1/2 cup granulated sugar into it. This is the amount I usually use, but feel free to adjust as per your liking. If you don’t have a liking, then stick to my liking for your debut effort because at least you’ll have somebody to blame when you set your kitchen on fire. Heat pan until sugar begins to burn and bubble around the edges.

IMPORTANT: Do not use a spoon to help the caramelization process. Caramel is like mortar and you’ll spend the next three hours trying to prise it off whatever spoon you used. I learned this the hard way as my mother laughed at me.

Swirl the pan instead. When the color begins to change to gold, take pan off heat for a quick second and standing well back from it, pour a little over 1/4 cup water into burning sugar. Do not be alarmed at steam and noise. Return to heat and swirl pan a few more times until sugar has completely dissolved, caramelized and color has changed to dark brown.

Pour into souffle pot and swirl mixture around so it evenly coats the bottom of pot and about one inch of the sides. Don’t worry if the result is geometrically off. Just make sure the bottom at least is completely covered. Please be careful because if you get hot caramel on your skin, you will regret it for a long time.

If you’re using the burner method, then you can melt the caramel directly in the pot you’re going to use. Same directions. Set caramel coated pot aside to cool. Crackling noises as mixture cools and hardens are absolutely normal.

Next take 2 cups of sugar (more if you have a very sweet tooth) and blitz in the blender with 6 eggs. If you’re very committed to a firm pudding and are doubtful about the staying power of a half dozen eggs, add an extra 2 yolks. Make yourself feel better about the coming heart attack by thinking of this as a French recipe (note: there is no reason to suppose this is a French recipe). Alternatively you could add a tablespoon of custard powder. You could even add the yolks and the custard powder if you’re especially greedy and/or careful.

Personally, I’ve never used custard powder and the only time I ever added the extra yolks is the one time I made this with 2% milk. We need whole fat milk for this little show, me hearties!

Speaking of which… once eggs and sugar have been blitzed into submission, either pour in the milk and give it a good blitz to combine OR if it won’t fit in your blender, pour mixture into mixing bowl, add milk and use a handheld electric whisk or the whisk attachment in your KitchenAid and combine the three. You could whisk by hand, but then you’ll be in your kitchen till the cows come home. If things get desperate as they did once in college, then pour the egg and sugar mixture into a separate bowl and combine with the milk in your blender in batches. Indian ingenuity at work!

What you have in front of you now are the beginnings of a basic custard. Add vanilla extract and freshly grated nutmeg. If you’re not using vanilla pods, feel free to blitz for a couple more seconds to show the ingredients who’s boss. Yup, it’s you!

If caramel has cooled by now, pour custard into the pot. Otherwise, set aside for the moment. Take bread slices and remove crusts. Dice the bread into one inch pieces. Dunk bread into mixture.

NOTE: What I like to do is use a big mixing bowl and a handheld electric whisk to create the custard mixture. Then I can just dump the bread into it and set it aside for ten minutes so the bread soaks up the goodness and turns into beautiful mush.

Stir in nuts if you like. You can use whatever you have or prefer but I think walnuts stand up best to the flavors of this pudding. Remember to fish out vanilla pod if you used it. Now it’s ready to cook.

Cooking

Okay, so now comes the moment of truth. This is probably the most complicated part of this no fuss, make it with leftovers, recipe. I know people who make their creme caramels in Dutch ovens and pressure cookers and whatnot. I’m not one of them. I know precisely two methods of making this and they are as follows:

1. Oven: Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Boil about five cups of water. Place souffle pot containing bread and custard mixture in the middle of empty lasagna pan. Pour boiling water into lasagna pan to roughly one inch depth. More is okay (just barely, don’t push it) but less is not. It is important that the pot have a firm position in the middle of the pan, it should not float in water.

Pause to congratulate yourself on your fancy water bath. Next up: Iron Chef!

Place the whole thing in middle rack and bake for 4o mins to an hour. It depends on your oven but start checking on the status of the pudding from 30 minutes on. When the knife inserted in center comes out clean, pudding is done. Try not to splash water all over yourself when checking. That shit is no joke.

Remove souffle pot and let stand to cool. Once the pudding has cooled – and I don’t mean is just slightly warm or anything like that. I mean cooled – stick it in the fridge for at least three hours or, better still, overnight.

2. Burner: Take a plastic grocery bag or similar item large enough to completely cover the top of the pot containing the custard mixture and wash thoroughly, inside and out. If the plastic bag is too small, it might help to cut it in two. Pat dry the plastic and stretch it tightly over the mouth of the pot. Take a piece of string and tie the plastic under the rim of the pot. Yank on the plastic to make sure it covers the mouth of the pot tightly.

Now a reasonable person might ask, “But Amrita, we live in technologically advanced times. Why can’t I use tin foil or saran wrap or something similar? Why must I butcher a grocery bag like a deprived human being?” And I would tell them, “You’re right. But my mother says this is the way we do it and my mother has strange hoodoo powers that might make my kitchen explode or make me choke and die on a piece of newfangled pudding, so this is the way I make it. I don’t think she cares how you make your pudding though, so feel free to experiment and let me know how it all turns out for you.”

Now if you’re done wasting my time with your philosophical inquiries, take your large pot and fill with water about one to two inches deep. Place smaller pot with plastic covering into the middle. As with the other water bath, make sure its placed firmly at the bottom and is not floating. Remove or add water as needed. Place lid on top and turn on the burner.

Now if you have one of those insanely cool silicone covers that stick with what seems to be willpower or are doing this whole exercise in a massive steamer of some sort, then more power to you. If you’re like me and stuck in the Stone Age, then find something really heavy, like a mortar and pestle and stick it on top of the lid to weigh it down. Wait for the water to boil and steam to struggle out. Then lower the heat to simmer and leave it be for 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat after 45 minutes and let it stand until things cool down enough for you to take the smaller pot out of its steamy haven. Let it cool. This will probably take half the day. Do not remove plastic top until it’s thoroughly cooled.

Once the pudding has cooled – and I don’t mean is just slightly warm or anything like that. I mean cooled – remove the plastic covering and stick it in the fridge for at least three hours or, better still, overnight.

Eat

After refrigerating overnight, run a knife along the edges of the pudding and upend into a serving dish the way you would a jelly out of a mould. Do it carefully over a sink because the caramel will have diluted into a thin sauce and it’ll run over everything.

Enjoy! The damn thing only took you 12 hours from start to finish!

[For M - who asked but didn't know what she was asking for! :P]

 
16 Comments

Posted by on January 8, 2010 in Life, Personal, Video

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

16 responses to “Slow Bread Pudding

  1. Empowerment Engineer

    January 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Wow, I didn’t know you enjoyed cooking, especially the long laborious kind, but I can imagine that it must be fun to have you as a cooking buddy. I can imagine a steady stream of witty retorts to everything I would say or do, or, for that matter, any that the cooking apparati/apparatuses would say or do either… 12 hours, what, over already?

     
  2. Amey

    January 8, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    12 hours including the eating time? :D

    The bread pudding my mom makes doesn’t have caramel, and she uses home-made butter (from buttermilk). That reminds me, I should get the recipe this time around.

     
  3. pitu

    January 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    I think I’m going to skip the ‘making’ part and show up at your doorstep and go straight to the ‘eating’ part. Thanks in advance! I love you! :D

     
  4. buddy

    January 8, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    the recipe is savoured for its sheer hilariousness

     
  5. fromherewegosublime

    January 8, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    more eating Amrita??

     
  6. Srinivas

    January 9, 2010 at 7:19 am

    That was too long to read and I lost track somewhere in the utensils section. But I am HUNGRY now :)

     
  7. sachita

    January 9, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Wat, you do this stuff?

    See, I dont cook eggs, i only eat them, so yes i am standing right behind HRH pitu-ji
    in the line.

     
  8. Spaz Kumari

    January 10, 2010 at 2:31 am

    wow… you really. must. like. this bread pudding.

    i love love love food, but nothing so much that i’d actually learn to cook it. :)

     
  9. naren

    January 10, 2010 at 7:51 am

    I loved the recipe! The way you wrote it anyway. I’m making it, as soon as I can get the missus out of line of sight. there is something about eggs and yolks that brings out the worst in her.

     
  10. Amrita

    January 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I swear this recipe only sounds like its extremely laborious. The actual prep lasts like 10 minutes – you pour four out of the five necessary ingredients into a blender and blitz, add the fifth and add the optionals. Then you stick it in the over and wait. Then you take it out and wait. Then you stick it in the fridge and wait. Mostly waiting. Its like a trifle. You put it all together and then you wait for it to turn into something good. :D

    I mean I didnt even make you all cook the custard first the way its supposed to be done properly. :P Someday I’ll post my french toast recipe and then you’ll all understand how everything turns into a production when i describe it!

    Pitu and Sachita – you’re welcome anytime.

    EE – all you need to do is come over for dinner some day, I always make my guests do most of the cooking. hee hee hee.

    Amey – tell tell!

    Buddy – but i swear it’s delicious! :D

    Piyush – well the pounds won’t pile on just by me thinking about them. I have to work at it! :P

    Srinivas – hee! was it that bad?

    Spaz Kumari – its like comfort food for me!

    Naren – tell me how it turns out. If you use the burner, remember to make sure that the plastic lid is securely fastened because you dont want the steam to condense and drip into the pudding or the water to boil over.

     
    • Srinivas

      January 11, 2010 at 7:55 am

      haha..not bad..but it did scare me.

      Burner, ovens, souffle, pots…lots of words – scary words. I jumped right to the end – the eating part. And 12 hours – but I get it, lots of waiting there :)

       
  11. shilpadesh

    January 12, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Ahhhh :(
    I saw one recipe for bread pudding where they basically ask you to mix the wet ingredients and put bread pieces in it and bake. What of that?

     
  12. Of Pen(nie)s and Pounds

    January 12, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    You could make the odd buck writing about cooking, ya know, given you’re *this* good at both, but then we both know there’s an easier way of, well, “piling on the Pounds”… Yum yum! :-P

    But unlike you (you very British woman!), I’m more of a halwa fiend (but no aisa waisa shortcut-wala halwa for me — I’m the same serious snob that you are wrt bread pudding). And the last time I remember sweating *this* much (waiting makes you sweat too, ya know!) in the kitchen was last Diwali, when I attempted the classic “Iruttukada” Tirunelveli halwa (growing up, my neighbors were from that place and each time they returned from a visit to the native village, with The Halwa that melts in your mouth… aaah, was I in heaven! I would even go so far as to say my mom’s secret-recipe Gajar ka halwa only kicks half the ass this one does, sorry ma).

    So I looked up the recipe online and found the perfect, most authentic one at isouthpotpourri.blogspot.com (but suddenly now, that gal seems to shun random visitors and has made her blog ‘by invitation only’ – sad) that instantly seduced me with “The Tirunelveli halwa is a never-ending romance between the halwa and saliva” — Truer words, I haven’t heard. :-D

    The ‘soaking the whole wheat grains for 4 hrs and wet-grinding them’ wasn’t the hard part; the ‘squeezing the milk outta this mountain of ground wheat paste with muslin’, and the subsequent ‘stirring on the stove-top (another 4 hrs), with sugar, saffron and ghee’, was. But I triumphed (not something I can usually boast of in kitchen-related tasks, the sucky cook that I normally am), and the proof as they say, is in the “pudding” — yummmmmm, slurrrppp, etc. (You wouldn’t have come upon a happier family, last Diwali… well, maybe those ant friends of yours after they’d hit a bread-crumbs jackpot, perhaps.)

     
  13. Amrita

    January 12, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Shilpa – Is that the Nigella Lawson Cooking for Lazy People Method? :D Yeah, I’ve never tried it. But my french toast recipe is kinda similar. I’ll put it up one of these days. Maybe tomorrow if I’m rushed for time.

    Of P&P – omg, I LOVE Tirunelveli halwa. I’ve only ever had it from Madras though. Okay, I’ve had it elsewhere but not from Tirunelveli and the one from Madras is the one to beat. I’ve never tried to make it at home because I once made this other whole wheat halwa that my auntie was trying to teach me and it took FOREVER. Forget soaking for four hours. For some reason she made me soak it for a DAY, changing the water each time, and then came the actual cooking and nobody told me that wheat SPITS at you when it’s boiling. And that the whole wheat+ghee+jaggery burn is comparable in nastiness to a caramel burn. I could feel it cooking my hand for hours after I’d washed it off and put on some medicine. But anytime you make some, I’ll catch a flight and hop on over.

     
    • Of P&P

      January 12, 2010 at 9:26 pm

      “omg, I LOVE Tirunelveli halwa” — appidiya? Then you MUST check this out — it’s one of my favorite Vikram movies/songs:

      And sure, hop on over the next time I make this halwa thing, though I must warn you it’s that once in a blue moon event, me going to such lengths cooking something (but should that happen again — coz stranger things have — you’ll be among the first to know). :-D

       
      • P&P

        January 13, 2010 at 8:14 pm

        Oh did we say “unembeddable”? There goes my (failed) first attempt at embedding a YouTube video! Here’s a link, instead, to the Samy song I was salivating about.

         
 
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