When we talk of bread and butter pudding, our memory banks bring up warm homey feelings. This is real comfort food. With winter around the corner, I thought that today's recipe is a take on the classic bread and butter pudding, with an espresso to give it some real guts. It's actually an easy dish that warms the heart... after all, bread pudding was never intended to be a fancy "oh my gosh" dessert, but rather the type of thing you whipped up with leftover bread. Serve it with dollop of clotted cream, or ice cream to finish it off to perfection.
The texture of the bread has the biggest impact on your pudding. Bread with more holes make a lighter pudding. Contrast this with a dense, tight crumbed bread that will make for a dryer more compact texture - imagine some chocolate brandy sauce dripping over that!
- Butter, for greasing and spreading on the bread
- 200g bread - I used 4 croissants, but you can pick any bread you like depending on the texture of pudding you want.
- 600ml milk
- 1 double shot of espresso
- 1 vanilla pod
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons castor sugar
- Clotted cream or ice cream to serve - I couldn't get my hands on clotted cream, so I used Woolies double thick cream.
- Preheat the oven to 180 deg celsius.
- Grease your baking tray with butter. You can use ovenproof mugs or ramekins too.
- Spread some butter lightly on your bread. I skipped this step as I used croissants that have enough butter already.
- Slice up (or break for a more rustic look) your bread into small pieces and place on your baking tray or ramekins.
- Split your vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds.
- Gently heat your milk with the vanilla pod and seeds. As the milk heats up, add your espresso. I used a the Colombia Huilla Excelso roast for my espresso. Take care not to boil the milk.
- Whisk together the eggs and sugar.
- The key to this dish is making a good custard, and this step is where your custard comes together. A good custard is all about the eggs, since it is the proteins in the eggs that create the moist, rich, silky texture. You can add an extra egg yolk to create a richer flavour, but I don't usually do that. I prefer the balance and body to be complemented by serving with a double thick cream or a rich sticky sauce.
- Add your coffee-vanilla milk mixture to the eggs and stir well.
- Pour the mixture over the bread. The top layer of bread tends to float on the custard mixture, so press the bread down to make sure that it absorbs the liquid. Leave to stand for about 5 minutes.
- Cover with foil and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes. This is a baked custard dish, so you will need to bake in a hot water bath to ensure that your custard cooks evenly and slowly to give you a smooth velvety texture. You can do this by placing your pudding pan in another bigger roasting pan with water in it. If you like you can get a head start on the baking by placing your pan with water in the oven as your oven heats up.
- Serve with a good spoonful of cream or ice cream, or you can dress it up with a sticky sauce. I usually prefer just the double thick cream.