|bread and butter pudding|
I had found a recipe for a yeasted fruit loaf that I thought might be seasonally festive. It was based on a recipe found in an unpublished 18th century manuscript and was crammed full of dried fruit and spices. So far, so good. I did think that it was more a case of a lot of fruit held together by a little sweet dough, but hey ho.
As the loaf cooked, the kitchen smelt heavenly. (I do so hope that heaven smells of sultanas, lemon zest and mixed spice!) The loaf took a little longer to bake than I had expected, but then it was very dense with fruit and my elderly fan oven is a little temperamental. I had had to cover the loaf in some foil to prevent it from burning; though I could see that a few of the protruding fruit had hardened into what looked like tiny cannon balls. This was nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a very sharp knife and some runny icing.
Did I mention how good the fruit loaf smelled?
As for its appearance, it’s really hard for me to say. I mean, it looked great in the heavy-duty old loaf tin that I use for baking bread. A little dark on top perhaps, but lovely all the same. What I can’t vouch for is how it looked out of the tin, because by the time I got it out of the tin it was as if the little fruit cannon balls had turned in on themselves and the whole thing was shot through by grapeshot. I had fruit loaf rubble.
I hadn’t bothered to line the loaf tin. I had greased it but no baking parchment. I don’t bother when baking bread and hadn’t thought that perhaps with all the extra fruit that I might need an easy way of leveraging the cooked loaf out of the tin. (Although judging by the end result, I suspect I would have needed some kind of winch!)
Despite multiple efforts with a spatula, a palette knife and lots of muttering, the loaf refused to budge. It was well and truly stuck. Well, it was more or less stuck until for some reason the top half of the loaf inexplicably somersaulted into the air and gracefully landed on the kitchen table about a yard away from me.
Okay, I thought. Perhaps I can just glue the whole thing back together with some plum jam? (Giving true meaning to the term "sandwich loaf".)
I attacked the remaining half of the loaf. This was war and I meant to win. I had brought out the heavy artillery and was now armed with a wide-edged fish slice. Under my vicious onslaught, the loaf capitulated, exploded and cascaded me with fruity debris.
Bother, bother, bother, I might have said if I hadn’t been cursing so loudly.
I tasted one of the fragments that had landed on the table. Sadly, it was delicious. Really lovely – slightly doughy with moist fruit and a hint of Christmas spices. This was most disappointing and I shall not take defeat lying down. I need to gather my forces and replenish supplies since I intend to assail the fruit loaf again.
But before I can sound the retreat, all is not lost! Hurrah!
I had retrieved the edible bits and put them away in an airtight container until I had recovered from the ordeal. Browsing through my favourite food blogs, I found that Dominic at Belleau Kitchen had made a gorgeous, not to say decadent, Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding. Genius inspiration! Just what I needed – a light bulb moment.
Since my loaf was already awash with fruit and spices, I decided not to follow Dom’s recipe as I suspect that adding chocolate might have been a case of gilding the lily (or in this case, over egging the pudding!) Instead I more or less followed Felicity Cloake’s bread and butter pudding recipe from her How to cook the perfect . . . series in The Guardian newspaper.
adaptations to Felicity Cloake's How to make the perfect bread and butter pudding recipe:
- I used individual buttered ramekins to cook my puddings in.
- Since I wasn’t able to butter my boulders of loaf, I dotted butter throughout the mini puddings.
- I didn’t add any extra fruit since my original loaf was chock full of it.
Serve with lashings of thick double cream!