Issue 03 Photo Shoot: Bread Pudding Party
Whoever said bread pudding should be reserved for entertaining during the colder months of the year was speaking pure nonsense! Bread pudding is fabulous and versatile as a way to end a meal or as an excuse to invite friends over for a catch-up during the day. That’s why we chose this underappreciated sweet as the focal point of our photo shoot.
The great thing about bread pudding is how easily the recipe can be scaled up or down depending on how many guests you are having over. The recipe itself, as you will read from our interview with Crème Caramel LA, is amenable to all sorts of flavour combinations and toppings. Plus, serving in ramekins makes presentation simple and clean up even easier.
We decided to contrast our vanilla lemon bread pudding with a bright, colourful, spring themed table. We bought fresh tulips in two colours and divided them among ceramic and glass vases. We opted for a “serve yourself” set up and arranged various toppings (chocolate chips, nuts, crumbled up cookies) in small white ceramic containers. We also set out a jar of colourful melamine spoons, a bowl of candied ginger and grapes for noshing.
Next, we pulled out the loudest tableware we owned to make our white ramekins pop. Despite the family style set up, we thought it would be nice to set the table with white placemats, fun napkins, a china tea cup, and wooden heart “chargers.” All in all, our guests left full and happy. We can’t wait for someone to dream up the next excuse to host a bread pudding party.
Photo Shoot Take-Aways:
- Any bread pudding recipe will do.
- Potential bread pudding toppings include: Cut up fresh fruit, jam, icing sugar, chocolate sauce, caramel, nuts, chocolate chips, ice cream, candy, or crushed up (ginger) cookies.
- Have fun with tableware. Spring is about bright colours and when serving something unusual like bread pudding, don’t be afraid to add conversation pieces and brightly coloured tableware to your tablescape.
- Colourful items will help your white ramekins stand out.
NOTE: I am so happy I discovered bread pudding. After all these years, I don’t know what stopped me from making it at home, seeing how simple it is to assemble and bake. First a little story. I remember my first taste of bread pudding: It was December 2010 (quite late in the game, I know) and I was in London standing in front of one of Yottam Ottolenghi’s bakeries. There it was, a beautiful, gooey, golden raisin topped bread pudding, staring at me from the window.
“To heck with it,” I said “I’m finally trying some bread pudding.” I walked into the bakery while inhaling all the buttery goodness I could and bought a bread pudding. I returned outside, took a bite right there on the street. Complete elation and taste-bud delight. The flavours and textures of this new dessert were exactly what my palate was craving. Sweet, but not too sweet, soft, but not mushy and creamy.
After that first taste, it took me a while to muster up the courage to eventually try baking a batch (or several) at home. Then it dawned on me, why don’t people have bread pudding parties? Why is it always cupcakes? I like cupcakes, don’t get me wrong but sometimes I get sick of them. I’ve eaten loads of cupcakes. They are pretty and sweet three bite wonders but can’t we make room for something new? I think so. I think it is time for bread pudding parties.
Note 2: You can use any bread pudding recipe that suits your taste. Bread pudding is an interactive dessert. You can socialize, top, bake, socialize some more, top again once they are out of the oven and then eat.
The bread pudding party was set up for four guests but given the simplicity of the dessert, it can be scaled up or scaled down as needed. Since we used white ramekins, we thought it would be best to present them on a variety of brightly coloured platters setting them up family style so guests could help themselves upon being seated.
We also liked the idea of using cake stands- if cake stands are good enough to display cupcakes and cake, they are good enough to display bread pudding, so that’s what we did.
Since the ramekins were small, we thought a smaller “charger” would be better than using a large plate that would drown out the bread pudding container. We found these wooden hearts at a local antique store and put a colourful napkin under each one.
There were an array of snacks and toppings scattered around the table to make the setting seem more like a discovery than something symmetrical where everyone had access to the same items. We used pecans, chocolate chips and soft ginger candies.
Finally, to bring all the colours together, we added some candles, green grapes and two colours of tulips in a clear glass different vases- one was clear glass so the tulip stems were visible, and the other vase was a light blue pitcher from Ken Eardley.
I hope the bread pudding party gives you some ideas and inspiration to try it out next time you find yourself scratching your head wondering what to serve. Put your own spin on bread pudding with your guests and do share the results with us!
Recipe Used: Bread & Butter Pudding from Rose Bakery- How to Boil an Egg Cookbook (adapted)
80 g butter (6 tablespoons) plus extra for greasing
5-6 slices of panettone or fruit loaf (I went to a bakery and bought 4 croissants and cut those up into cubes instead of using panettone)
500 ml (2 1/2 cups) full-fat (whole) milk or half milk and half single (light) cream – (I used regular milk as that is what I had in my refrigerator)
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange
60g (1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar (I used regular sugar)
pinch of salt
a few drops of vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
reduced apricot jam, to glaze (optional)
Lightly grease an ovenproof dish with butter- (or grease your ramekins). Put the slices of bread in the oven for 5-10 minutes until lightly toasted, then remove, spread generously with butter and cut in half.
If you are cutting the bread in cubes like I did, I did not toast the cubes, I put them directly into the ramekins and skipped this step. Pour the milk into a pan, add the lemon and orange zest, sugar, salt and vainlla and heat gently until just hot but not boiling, then remove from the heat.
Lightly beat together the eggs and egg yolks in a bowl then pour the hot milk over them, whisking well. Strain into a jug and pour the custard over the bread (slices or cubes). Let stand for about 35 minutes to soak up the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
Put the dish in a roasting pan, pour warm water into the bottom so it comes up about half way up the sides and bake for about 35 minutes until the sides are puffing up and the middle is just set. I started checking on my ramekins at about 20-25 minutes (every oven is different). Remove from the oven and serve while still warm.
Once the bread puddings are done, you can top them with whatever you’d like. This recipe calls for a apricot jam glaze which sounds delicious. I crumbled up ginger cookies and added that to chocolate chips and some crushed pecans.
Other Bread Pudding Recipes Worth Trying:
- The Wanderlust Kitchen: Costa Rican Chocolate Bread Pudding (Capirotada)
- Sundae Brunch: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Pecan Pie Bread Pudding
- La Peche Fraiche: Orange and Lemon Bread Pudding
- The Law Student’s Wife: Gingerbread Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
- Tutti Dolci: Chocolate Pecan Brioche Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
- Wandercrush: Zemlovka (Apple Bread Pudding)
- Dulces Bocados: Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding