Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding
Tis the Christmas season and there are parties and barbeques-a-plenty, everyone catching up before they disappear for the holidays and celebrating with friends. It's also the time of the year that those hosting Christmas dos are looking for that perfect dish - you know, the one you can prepare ahead and heat up, that's no trouble at all, so you can kick back and actually enjoy the party, rather than slaving in a hot kitchen while your friends and family drink the champagne!
This dish is just such a "prepare ahead" dessert. Make it the morning or evening before, let it return to room temperature and then, just before you want to serve it, pop it in the oven to heat up, slice and serve steaming hot with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. You can also serve an awful lot of people by simply doubling the recipe - one panettone will usually make two puddings. It's delicious and always receives rave reviews, and for some reason a bowl of bread and butter pudding, pipping hot and scented with brandy, just feels like Christmas.
The other great thing about this recipe is that I now finally have a way to use the beautiful panettone bread I have often received as a hostess gift over the silly season. I am not much of a "fruit toast" lover, so this recipe is perfect. It has a richness that suits the flavours of a bread and butter pudding (just shy of the butteriness of brioche) and soaks up the custard mix with relish.
Panettone is a genius Italian cross between a cake and a bread, studded with dried fruits and wrapped in a paper base that I just love peeling off. The traditional Italian panettone was first made in Milan during the Christmas season, and is often served as-is with hot cocoa or liqueur. It's fabulous and I can't believe it took me so long to realise it - all those wasted panettone loaves tossed out in my past! Such a waste!! So even if you aren't lucky enough to receive one of these wonderful loaves as a gift, run out and pick one up at your local deli, and get cooking.
Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding
- 1 Italian panettone loaf
- 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks (use the left over whites for meringue!)
- 250ml milk (full cream)
- 170ml thickened cream (whipping cream)
- 50gms caster sugar
- 2 measures of brandy (I used the armagnac I brought back from France... extra YUM)
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar for sprinkling
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius and butter an oven-safe baking dish of approximately 8 x 5 inches. I used a square dish of approximately 7 x 7 inches - you don't have to be super precise.
Cut your panettone into 1 cm (approximately) thick slices. You will really only need about half the panettone loaf for the recipe, so feel free and toast the leftovers to nibble on later while the dish is baking.
Line the baking dish with overlapping slices of panettone. This dish will always look a little rustic - it's part of its charm - so don't fuss too much about getting this "perfect".
In a large bowl, beat your eggs and yolks, mix with the butter, cream, sugar and vanilla essence. Now stir in your pinch of salt and brandy (or armagnac!). Pour this over the bread slices so they all get a good dousing.
The key to this dish is to let the bread and butter pudding rest at this point for about 15 minutes which allows the bread to soak up the custard mix. This avoids the pudding from getting too soggy at the bottom when you take it out of the oven. Go make yourself a cup of tea and try some of the leftover slices of panettone while you wait.
Now, the pudding is well rested, so sprinkle it with sugar and then into the oven it goes for approximately 30-40 minutes. Keep an eye on it, you want to take it out when it is a lovely golden brown and crispy on top.
If you are serving now, slice and pop in some bowls, serving with with a scoop of ice-cream and/or a dollop of cream. If you are serving up later that evening, allow to cool to room temperature, then cover with a clean tea towel until you are ready to reheat it in the oven.
And a Merry Christmas to all!