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And the beet goes on

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So what do you do with stale leftover bread? You could feed it to the birds, but of course, there are less wasteful uses: you could process slices down into breadcrumbs; there's panzanella, the Italian bread salad; you could make croutons; semmelknödel (bread dumplings); or use it in a stuffing.

There's also bread and butter pudding, a traditional British favourite but also found elsewhere in other variations.You could also flavour the pudding with chocolate, or make it savoury with ham and cheese. Here's a recipe for a Caribbean-inspired bread pudding with lime curd and cranberries. (These three recipes come from the BBC Food site and it has a dozen others.) Someone may want to come up with a kaya (coconut egg jam) and coconut milk version in Malaysia.

White bread is normally used ­­and an eggy bread, like brioche or challah, or a fruit bread makes a more luscious pudding. Stale croissants are good too. Whatever it is, the bread needs to be of good quality; your ordinary sliced bread tends to go claggy when it soaks up the milk.

Some recipes call for the custard ingredients to be partly cooked first; others simply mix them together. Some use a lot of custard so that the bread slices are completely submerged; others have the points sticking out. Some people like the crust of the bread off, others keep it on.

I mixed the milk, cream and eggs together with the fruit and flavourings, the crust stays on and the custard only comes halfway up the sides of the bread slices so that there is a crisper top. I decided to use the beetroot bread I made this past week for my pudding. It makes a rosy dessert, doesn't it?

This one is going to YeastSpotting.

TOMORROW: Olé mole!

Beetroot loaf
Serves 4-5

60g mixed raisins and diced apricots
2 tablespoons rum
30g butter, plus extra for greasing, softened
4 medium-thick slices beetroot bread or good-quality white bread
2 eggs
60g caster sugar
350ml whole milk
60ml cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Nutmeg, grated, to taste
1 tablespoon demerara sugar
  • Grease a 1-litre shallow ovenproof dish. Soak the raisins and apricots in the rum for 30 minutes. Butter the slices of bread and cut each piece into 4 triangles. Arrange the slices in the greased dish.
  • Beat the eggs, sugar, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Add the dried fruit and any liquid, and mix well.
  • Pour the custard over the bread. Make sure the fruit is spread evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Sprinkle the pudding with the nutmeg and demerara sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the custard is set and the top is crunchy and golden.

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