Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Bread Pudding Cake

File:Bread and butter pudding-01.jpg

Source for this image here.

A new bakery has opened recently near our home.  It sells lots of yummy goodies, including a delicacy known locally as "bread pudding cake".  This is a dense, fruity cake, very much like the more widely known "bread and butter pudding" but with a crisp, crunchy topping, and a drier, thicker texture.
Papa Bear absolutely adores bread pudding cake, and when he saw that the new bakery was stocking it, he asked if I would be able to make some at home.  Well of course, I had to rise to that challenge!

In fact it wasn't at all difficult to find a recipe - I used this one, which I'll reproduce here since it's available online.  It was very successful - and not only did Papa Bear and his workmates all enjoy big slices of it with their mugs of tea - the cubs and I did back at home, too!  It's actually not that unhealthy (although it has quite a few calories - not as many as bread pudding however, some recipes of which contain heavy cream) and it's a great way to use any odd leftover bits of bread you may have that need eating up.

To make bread pudding cake you will need ...

  • 500 g bread, chopped or torn into pieces - I really wouldn't use manufactured, store bought bread for this, unless it's the artisan, "homebaked" style.  If you use manufactured bread, as with stratas or bread and butter pudding, you will fetch up with a very unpleasant, fluffy mush which is not at all the texture you are aiming for
  • 500 g dried fruit, any combination of your choice
  • 85 g mixed peel
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mixed spice (NOT allspice!).  Alternatively, apple pie spice would be good with this, or just cinnamon on its own
  • 600 mls milk - I used skimmed, and it came out fine 
  • 2 large eggs, beaten 
  • 140 g dark brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • zest of one lemon
  • 100 g butter or margarine, melted
This is actually very easy to make.

1.  Prepare a square 8 inch pan (I used a ceramic dish - a lovely bright red one that Papa Bear gave me for Christmas!) by greasing and then lining with paper.  Set the oven to 180/gas 4/fan 160.

2.  In a large bowl, place the pieces of bread.  To this add the dried fruit and the peel, then the 1 1/2 tablespoons mixed spice.  Mix well.  It will seem like you have a huge amount of ingredients, but don't worry, they shrink down!

3.  Beat the eggs into the milk, then pour over the bread and fruit mixture, and combine well (it's easier to do this with your hands - your children will love squishing the soggy bread!).  It won't be too wet - you may be tempted to add more liquid, but don't.

4.  Put aside for about 15 minutes to soak (I made a loaf of spelt bread while my cake was soaking!).

5.  After this, add the sugar, then combine again well.  

6.  Melt the butter and pour over the mixture, and combine this one last time.

7.  Place the mixture into the prepared pan or dish, and flatten down.  It may be easier to do this in 2 halves - I found there was so much mixture it was more than I could handle in one go!

8.  Sprinkle plenty of sugar over the top, then place in the oven on the centre shelf, and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until golden and firm.  You may need to cover the dish with foil to prevent the edges burning (I did).

9.  It's done when a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean - this took about 1 hour 20 minutes in our fan assisted oven.

10.  Remove from the oven and cool in the pan (the recipe suggests turning it out, but if you do this, it'll be upside down and you won't be able to enjoy the wonderful crispy, sweet topping).  I cooled ours in the pan and it came to no harm.

11.  Serve cut into slices, while still warm.  Yum!

I cut mine into 9 slices as suggested, though people with more modest appetites might be able to stretch it further than this - it's very filling.  In fact as it baked, it smelled quite like Christmas cake, and we all agreed while we were eating our warm slices, that it would be lovely for Christmas dinner, instead of the richer pudding that is traditionally eaten in England on Christmas Day.  So perhaps we'll have this next year!  Or rather, should I say, this year!  I can't believe we're nearly halfway through January already - we have a birthday coming up soon, and I've not even decided on the menu yet.  Eeek!

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