Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Rethinking Bread and Butter Pudding

Bread and butter pudding is a dessert my mum used to make for us regularly when I was a kid. She layered bread that was spread with butter and jam into a casserole dish, scattered through with sultanas, poured a milky eggy mixture over it all, sprinkled it with coconut and baked it until the top layer of bread was crispy. It seemed quite effortless. She would then serve it with cold milk and a sprinkle of sugar. I loved the contrast of crunchy and soft, hot and cold.

I have fond memories but so many recipes I see have lots of eggs in them which isn’t my sort of thing. However the past year or so of blogging has given me hope. I have come across many versions of this dessert that have piqued my interest. I have been particularly attracted to ones filled with fruit and chocolate. I like the use of different sorts of breads. And they have very little, if any, eggs. Here is a list of some of the puddings have inspired me to rethink bread and butter pudding.

- Sweet bread puddings with condensed milk, peanut butter and plums by Evelin at Bounteous Bites
- Mixed Berry and White Chocolate Bread Pudding by Mansi at Food and Fun
-Banana Choc Bread Pudding from Isa and Terry in Veganomicon (sourced at http://www.veganrecipes.com/)
- Panettone Bread Pudding by Dhivya at Culinary Bazaar
- Raisin Bread Pudding by Gigi from Gigi Cakes
- French Toast Souffle with Summer Berries by Ricki at Dessert, Diet and Dogs

There is quite a variety here. From Gigi’s fairly traditional version to Ricki’s vegan breakfast offering that was not even intended as a pudding. But what they all have in common is baked soggy bread. Doesn’t sound very appetizing when you put it like that, does it?

In fact, thinking about bread and butter pudding, I got to thinking about soggy bread and wondering why people started eating it in the first place. Was the bread so dry our ancestors almost broke their teeth? Did they overcook it (too much wood on the fire) or had it just been sitting around for weeks? I can only think they must have been desperate.

I don’t like soggy bread, myself. My mother loves making summer pudding these days – not something she ever made when I was a child. It is a cold pudding of bread and berries packed into a pudding basin to make one berry soggy mess. Ugh! But this Christmas I finally found a summer pudding I liked. It was made with panettone. You know the Italian bread that is light and fluffy with citrus peel through it? My mother always had at least one around the house during Christmas. Well, I have discovered that it tastes so good, it even is quite palatable when soggy.

This year in April mum gave me some of the remnants of a panettone still leftover from Christmas. I decided I would try a bread and butter pudding. I looked over all these wonderful recipes I had collected. Like a magpie, I collected the bits that interested me. I envisaged my panettone being drowned in a warm gooey berry and chocolate sauce rather than a custard. In what I assume is part of the pudding's traditions, I used up berries from the freezer, egg yolks from the fridge and surplus condensed milk.

The pudding was good but didn’t quite match the image in my mind. It was drowned but not quite as gooey as I had hoped. I had mixed feelings about it. It was just a little soggy for my liking when I served it the first night. The second night it was firmer and most delicious. Then it sagged a little again on the third night. Some mouthfuls felt like I was eating hot soggy summer pudding but others were a heavenly combination of tart berries, citrus-infused bread and a touch of white chocolate.

E loved it so I am sure I will try it again. But I am not big on desserts so it might be a while. Maybe next Christmas when panettone is begging to be used once more. Or I might get the recipe from my mum some time. Meanwhile, here is my version. Not the definitive bread and butter pudding but a worthy addition to my jumble of ideas.

Choc-Berry Bread Pudding
Serves 6-8

300g panettone, sliced thickly
250g mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
¼ cup choc chips (I used white)
1-2 cups milk
½ cup condensed milk
2 eggs yolks
½ tsp cinnamon

Grease a 23cm square casserole dish. Place one third the slices of panettone along the bottom. Scatter with half the berries and choc chips. Repeat and top with remaining third of panettone. Mix one cup of milk, the condensed milk, the egg yolks and cinnamon. Pour over the panettone layers and press down to ensure all are soaked in. Add a little more milk if necessary (up to one cup). Baked in 180 C oven for 45-60 minutes. Serve hot with cream.

On the stereo:
Scorpion Wind: Death in June and Boyd Rice


  1. Good for you for trying! My favourite version uses brioche, butter, apricot jam, eggs and ordinary milk. It comes out light as a feather - almost a souffle, in fact.

  2. Well, soggy bread never sounded so good!! This looks so delicious, too! Sorry it didn't quite meet your expectations the first (or 3rd) day--but at least it was great the 2nd! I am definitely going to have to try chocolate in my next bread pudding.

    I know that, in our house, my mom used up stale bread this way--maybe it doesn't get quite as soggy if it's stale to begin with?

  3. I loooove a proper soggy summer pudding - such sharp tastes!

    Berries in a bread and butter pudding is a fabulous idea. I can see they would go well with the white chocolate chips too. Will have to wait and see what you think second time round!

  4. Johanna, just the ingredient list makes me want to eat your pudding! don't fret too much girl, it sure looks yummy! I'll be waiting for your mum's recipe though:)

  5. Oh, with panettone! I'm not a huge fan of soggy bread, either, but this is so liquid light, it would be irresistible.

  6. We are so often inspired by our past memories and other recipes. Nice way to do this one.

  7. Made with panettone? Oh, Johanna, I'm just finishing breakfast and want to dive into that dessert!

    It's not something my family have ever made, but I like the 'usefulness' of dishes like this that manage to combine delicious, simple ideas with a 'waste not, want not' philosophy.

    Gorgeous, despite the fact that you're not entirely convinced! And I do love these 'jumbles of ideas'...lovely.

  8. Your reduced-egg bread pudding experiment is very timely for me. I'm planning on a eggless version of an English "Summer Pudding" for part of my next challenge with Lysy of Munchkin Mail. Bread puddings always me think of French Toast, just in a casserole form.

    After looking at your recipe I'd be happy with a bowl of the condensed milk, berries and chocolate chips! Great attempt, it sure looks tasty. I hope you give it another try.

  9. I love bread puddings of all kinds... You should also try the savory variety: with cheese, mustard and basil added to the milk mixture, and a layer of spinach, sliced cherry tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms & onions in the middle. Great for brunch!

  10. Yeah, I'm with you on this one: the odds of my enjoying a soggy bread dish are not in favor of the cook. It 's always seemed like the soggy bread is just an excuse for lots of berries and/or chocolate and/or gooey sauce. I'm more likely to take the berries or the goo and leave the bread!

  11. Sounds good to me and I am sure Graham would give it a big thumbs up!

  12. thanks aforkful - that sounds lovely (reminded me that a friend recommended turkish bread, fig jam and rosewater) - would love to try bread and butter pudding with brioche

    thanks ricki - I would like to try a milk or dark chocolate in bread pudding as white chocolate is v sweet and milky which is why I think it didn't stand out as much as I'd hoped

    thanks Sophie - I knew there would be some soggy bread lovers out there - I love the berries but prefer to give the soggy bread a miss

    thanks Mansi - I am curious to talk to my mum about her bread and butter pudding now - must remember to ask!

    thanks Susan - if you want soggy bread than I would recommend panettone

    thanks Tanna - it is nice to have so many influences meld into one dish

    thanks Lucy - I was pleased to be able to help mum use up some of the panettone - it is too good to go to waste

    thanks LisaRene - I used the egg yolks reluctantly because otherwise I felt I would throw them out but next time would be happy to make it without them (by the way most summer puddings don't have eggs or dairy as far as I am aware which should suit you fine)

    thanks tinker - I have been toying with doing a savoury version too but the berries and chocolate were calling my name! But some time I will try that - sounds great!

    thanks Neen - I agree with you but this dish got me the berries and chocolate that I love and the nostalgia of soggy bread too!

    thanks holler - am sure this would be a good winter warmer in Scotland (actually E said it is better than Marks and Spencers)

  13. I really want to like bread pudding (I mean I love bread and I love custardy stuff) but I haven't tried one I really liked. Making it with condensed milk sounds really good though!

  14. have you tried a savoury version? we have one on our site. yours looks delicious.

  15. I love Bread and Butter pudding!
    My favourite version uses bitter orange marmalade and salted butter (no currants or sultanas), cream and very little egg indeed.

    Use of soggy bread in recipes comes from having to deal with stale bread. It's just yet another way to make use of old bread and NOT throwing it away (I've had some of that problem this week as we've had a sudden heat wave and the bread went roock hard overnight - but I had some nice tomatoes and panzanella is a nice salade recipe for warm weather)
    You can make savory versions ofyour Bread and Butter pudding as well, with cheese and cherry tomatoes, for instance.

  16. Thank you for the tip about a proper "summer pudding" not containing eggs. I've begun my research and looked at "summer puddings" and "cabinet puddings" and have succeeded in getting myself all confused :)

  17. thanks Ashley - hope my version and even some of the versions that inspired me might help you find a bread pudding to love - when they are good they are very very good

    thanks Bee - have checked out your version and it looks very good - am keen to try a savoury version some time so will be sure to return to your post

    thanks Nathalie - I love the idea of using up stale bread in puddings and salads - thanks for your ideas - seems the variations are limitless

    Thanks LisaRene - I am sure there are many variations of summer pudding (haven't encountered the term cabinet pudding) - so many some do have eggs but my mum's is just berries (probably a bit of sugar) and bread chilled in the fridge - and soggy!

  18. Your dream version does sound delicious - I think you should keep trying (though the interim version sounds very good too)! I had a nice trifle once which used panettone - in fact it was what convinced me that perhaps trifle was worth bothering with.

  19. thanks Lysy - pannetone in trifle sounds delicious - will keep this in mind and will keep trying some different bread and butter puddings

  20. Well this proves that in cyberspace your thoughts etc have a loooong life. I was just looking for a recipe for B&B pudding that was a bit out of the ordinary,but I am more intrigued by your question about soggy bread and would like to offer the following suggestions a) yes, bread was much harder ( milling was not as fine then) and they didn't throw the stale bits away b) before dentistry many people would lose their teeth at some stage due to decay, accident, old age etc and chewing became difficult c) it was a traditional baby food to introduce children to solids - and maybe some people retained a life long love of it and finally d) food is as much about texture as it is about taste and some people like that sloppy, goopy, combination!

  21. Thanks Anon for an interesting response - I guess using milk to make cereal soggy is similar to serving bread soaked in milk - my toddler is currently enjoying it and while the idea of cereal soggy with milk doesn't interest me these days, it does bring back memories of eating cereal this way in my childhood! Hope you find a good B&B recipe that you enjoy - my favourite on my blog so far is pumpkin and chocolate using fruit toasst!


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