Last Friday was Bob's birthday and I made his favorite dessert, bread pudding. But, I forgot to include the milk in the custard and the result was very bad indeed. So, feeling that that I owed him a proper dessert, I made another version this Wednesday. This time I remembered to add all the ingredients, which improved matters enormously. The last bread pudding was a coffee and expresso flavored concoction, but I decided to make an entirely different recipe, based on Nigella Lawson's Ginger Jam Bread Pudding. I knew Bob wouldn't enjoy the ginger marmalade she favors, so I used some of my own homemade pear jam and some store bought blackberry jam. This bread pudding is a little different from other versions I've eaten. The bread bakes in its dish with the crusts poking up out of the custard, turning golden, crisp and buttery, a delicious contrast to the soft underbelly of the pudding.
When I first thought of making this I decided to use my own pear jam that I made a few months ago. But, pear jam has a subtle taste and thinking it might be too bland, I bought some blackberry jam at the store, with the intention of alternating sandwiches made with both types of jam in the baking dish. I suppose I sound finicky, but the store bought stuff was very disappointing-- odd looking and loaded with high fructose corn syrup and sugar.
The triangles are then positioned in a well buttered dish, with the point of one triangle upwards, then another one with the flat, cut side pointing up, then continuing this pattern until the dish is filled. I also stuffed a triangle on each side of the dish.
Then custard is poured over the bread, and fresh blackberries were scattered on top. Soft butter is smeared onto the triangles with crusts poking out of the custard. The pudding sits about 10 minutes, to let the custard absorb into the bread. Then, dusted with sugar, it goes into the oven to bake.
I was surprised that the pear jam contributed a such distinct and lovely flavor to the pudding. The blackberry jam provided nothing but color, and I wished I had only used my own jam. Next summer I'm making my own blackberry jam.
Blackberry and Pear Bread Pudding (Adapted from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Bites)
6 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
10 slices whole wheat bread
jam of your choice
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
2-1/4 cup cream
3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a baking dish with a capacity of about 1.5 quart with some of the butter.
Make sandwiches with the brown bread, butter and jam. Spread about 2 tablespoons of jam on one slice of bread and around 1 tablespoon of the butter on the other slice of bread, then make them into a sandwich. (You should have some butter left over to smear on the top later). Cut the sandwiches into half triangles and arrange them evenly along the middle of the baking dish. Put one in the dish with the point of the sandwich upwards, then one with the flat side uppermost, then with point-side uppermost and so on, then squeeze a sandwich-triangle down each side.
Whisk the egg yolks and egg together with the sugar, and pour in the
cream and milk. Pour this over the triangles of bread and leave them to
soak up the liquid for about 10 minutes, by which time the pudding is
ready to go into the oven. Put some fresh berries on the top. Smear
the bread crusts that are poking out of the custard with the soft
butter. Sprinkle the demerara sugar on the top .
Sit the pudding dish on a baking sheet and put in the oven to cook for about 45 minutes or until the custard has set and puffed up slightly. Remove, let sit for about 10 minutes - by which time the puffiness will have deflated somewhat - and spoon out into bowls. Serve plain or with whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.