Bread and pudding don’t even sound like they should be in the same sentence.
This has to be one of my favourite flavour combinations. Coupled with balsamic + honey and blue cheese + sweet chilli. Another thing that this dish combines is the ability to be both a dessert and a breakfast item. That is to say, any leftovers can be consumed at 9 pm whilst drinking hot chocolate and watching Game of Thrones. Yes.
To be honest with you, I used to be one of those people who thought that bread pudding was one of those things that should have never been invented. That was before I actually had bread pudding. It’s terribly easy, requires literally no effort, and it’s basically a French toast casserole. That’s the easiest way for me to put it. And the great thing about it is that it can be easily manipulated as long as the core ingredients (bread, eggs and salt) remain the same.
I would recommend using a rich eggy bread, such as challah or brioche bread, because it drastically improves the flavour. Any other types of bread would still work, but I would strongly recommend either one of those two. This recipe also works really well if your bread is stale. If your bread is fresh, you can cut it into cubes and leave in a baking tray overnight, out in the open. Or, for a quicker method, preheat your oven to 180º/350ºF and bake the bread cubes for about 10 minutes, or until hard. I also like to leave my bread chunks to absorb the egg mixture for about 30 minutes to obtain maximum flavour. You can add in extras like chocolate chips, raisins or nuts to the mixture, it’s all about what you want.For anyone who’s unfamiliar with crème anglaise, the first thing you need to know is that it literally translates to ‘English cream’ from French. It’s similar to custard, but less thinner and it isn’t a sickly yellow colour like the packet variety tends to be. It also has a much more delicate and rich flavour than the yucky storebought stuff. I stole the recipe for the crème anglaise from Seasons and Suppers because she’s got the right idea. And she’s Canadian. That’s a definite guarantee that she can be trusted and that this will change your life.
Cinnamon Vanilla Bread Pudding with Crème Anglais
For the bread pudding:
4 cups challah bread, or any other bread of your choosing, cut into 1 inch cubes
½ cup castor sugar
¾ cup milk
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla essence
a pinch of salt
½ cup sliced almonds (optional)
For the crème anglaise:
½ cup fresh cream
½ cup full cream milk
½ tsp vanilla essence
3 tbsp sugar
3 egg yolks
Make the bread pudding:
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Stir until the egg yolks are fully incorporated. Then add the bread cubes and stir with a wooden spoon, making sure to coat each bread piece fully. If you like, you could add in raisins, chocolate chips or nuts at this stage. Once each piece is coated, let soak for about 20 minutes before baking. This step is optional, you can bake the bread pudding straight after combining, but soaking the bread will give a more intense flavour. Meanwhile, start on the crème anglaise.
Make the crème anglaise:
- Preheat your oven to 180°C.
- Add the milk, cream and vanilla essence to a medium sauce pan and heat over medium heat until it comes to a low boil, then take the saucepan off the heat. Make sure it doesn’t come to full boil because if it’s too hot, then you will cook the eggs and end up with scrambled eggs instead of crème anglaise.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until combined. Bit by bit, whisk small amounts of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture until you’ve added about half the milk mixture. Then, pour the egg mixture from the bowl into saucepan and whisk over low heat until slightly thickened and the sauce just coats the back of your wooden spoon. When thickened, transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure that the plastic wrap is right on the surface of the crème anglaise so that it doesn’t form a skin. Chill whilst you bake the bread pudding.
- Grease a medium deep dish baking pan with BUTTER, not any of that non-stick spray. We’re not here to help you cut calories. Then sprinkle the bottom of your greased pan with about 2 tbsp of brown sugar. This step isn’t necessary but whilst baking, the sugar caramelises at the bottom, giving your bread pudding a crispy bottom.
- Carefully layer the soaked bread cubes in the greased baking pan, and pour any leftover egg mixture over the top. This will bake into a lovely custard in the oven and the dish just becomes that much more rich. At this stage, you can sprinkle chopped almonds, chocolate chips or even sugar over the bread pudding mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or when you pull the bread apart with a fork, no liquid seeps out.
- Serve warm or cold with crème anglaise, melted ice cream or dusted with icing sugar.