Some things are meant to be, it’s as though they were preordained by a greater power.
Bread, Marmalade and Butter pudding, is such a thing. But, and this is a very big but, only when you substitute bread for panettone. It has absolutely no finesse. This is something to make for you alone, or close family, or friends – your nearest and dearest. It is too good for dinner parties meant to impress, they don’t deserve it.
So here we go.
Bread and butter pudding is such a childhood, nursery pudding – it’s sort of woven into the fabric and culture of British food. Yet it’s also something so easy to make spectacularly unappetising. Bad bread, cut thinly will go soggy, too long in too high an oven and you end up with bitter, burnt rabbit droppings instead of swollen, juicy sultanas. In the very recent past, it was suggested that margarine was an acceptable substitute for butter (clue, it isn’t).
That said, it’s also very easy to get spectacularly right – with a little tweaking of the kids’ stable, you can have a sexy, if chaotic looking winter pudding, that is bowl-scrapingly good.
This most often appears at mine in January and February, due to the predictable rhythms of the kitchen year:
1) at least one person will, kindly, have given me a panettone for Christmas. However, I’ll probably have bought one, the Sicilian may also have bought one. There will be a surfeit of pannetone taking up a lot of shelf space.
2) Seville oranges will be appearing in the shops. And it is impossible to resist the urge to make marmalade. Therefore old marmalade must be used up to justify the making of new marmalade. (more on marmalade in the next week or so)
3) It is dark, the twinkle of Christmas is over, and spring is a long, long way off. I’ve never understood the school of thought that suggests we deprive, and deny during January. Save all that for better days, when the sun and growth and the prospect of trips to the seaside are around to make up for our loss. Hearty puddings are a necessary pyschological defence at this time of year.
The tweak then is just two ingredients; panettone instead of bread, and the addition of good, bitter marmalade (your own, someone else’s or from the shop – go for the one which pleases you most and is easiest). The butter-rich panettone is both lighter and richer than ordinary bread, making the whole pudding more grown up somehow, whilst simultaneously furring up your arteries. The marmalade and dark sugar give a punch of citrus and bitterness that further elevate it above nursery food status.
For 4-6 people you’ll need:
1 classic panettone, cut the crusts off.
Butter (at room temperature)
100ml Double cream
300 ml Whole milk
25g Dark brown sugar
A large pie dish.
Start by slicing your panettone into thick (not quite doorstop) slices and then cutting these into triangles that will fit into your pie dish, pointy side up.
Butter them on both sides and spread marmalade generously on one side.
Arrange them as artfully in the pie dish as you can, with a spoonful of sultanas between each slice.
Beat the eggs, milk and cream together and pout over the bread.
Leave it for 10 minutes to soak in, then sprinkle the brown sugar over the top and bake for 25 minutes.
It’ll be tongue-scalding hot when it comes out of the oven, so be prepared for vigorous blowing if you’re serving it straightaway.