Pecans and raisins bread and butter pudding

Some weeks ago, I enrolled a course to become an independent art curator (exciting!). It’s keeping me very busy, with classes all Saturdays and research and homework during the week. I’m loving it. And, bizarrely (or not), because I have less free time, I organise it way better! As a result, I have been cooking and baking much more than previously.

Last Sunday, for example, our dear friends visited us one last time before moving out of London and down to the seaside. These two like their food so we wanted to make something extra special for them. Special but unfussy – some honest, homemade, no-nonsense winter comfort food. So I made my pecan and raisins bread & butter pudding!

Now, I say *MY* bread & butter pudding and this is not entirely true. I actually based it on a recipe from Lucy’s Food recipe book and adapted it to our taste. The original recipe has dried apricot and an apricot coulis, but I like my bread & butter pudding a little bit more traditional.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 12 slices of brioche
  • 60 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature (spreading cold butter on brioche proved nearly impossible and extremely frustrating for short-tempered me 🙂 )
  • 60 grams of pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 60 grams of raisins
  • 150 ml of double cream
  • 150 ml of semi-skimmed milk
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 30 grams of caster sugar
  • 30 grams of cane sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • fresh nutmeg, or cinnamon, or cardamon to taste.

METHOD

  • Pre-heat oven to 190C (gas mark 5).
  • Spread the brioche slices with butter.
  • Layer into an ovenproof dish with the pecans and raisins.
  • In a bowl, mix the cream, milk, eggs, caster sugar and grate a little fresh nutmeg. Depending on the mood and season, you can also add a little cinnamon and cardamon to the eggy cream mixture.
  • Pour the mixture over the brioche.
  • Sprinkle evenly with the cane sugar.
  • Bake in the oven for 40-45 min, or until the pudding has puffed up and the eggs are cooked through (you can check with a knife)

Serve warm with a little double cream.

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Yes, it’s that easy and that tasty!

I like this recipe because I find the brioche makes it a little bit less stodgy than regular bread and butter pudding, and the crunchy pecans give the pudding a nice contrast of textures. I wouldn’t go as far as to pretend it is a light pudding, but definitely lighter than bread and butter puddings I have had before! 😀

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Fruit tart with crème pâtissière

First of all, please people, it is called crème pâtissière (pronounced /pa.ti.siehr/) and NOT crème pâtisserie! Hearing this always makes me cringe, because it doesn’t make sense and it sounds silly. It’s easy to remember, “pâtisserie” is a noun (that qualifies a pastry itself or the shop where you buy pastries) and “pâtissière” is the adjective that qualifies anything pastry-related. Here, we are specifying the type of the cream, hence we need to use the adjective. There, it’s said, let’s move on. No I’m not grumpy, I am just a grammar freak…

This fruit tart is a classical and all-time French favourite. It’s easy to make when you have friends visiting, especially as the crème pâtissière can be made the day before and keeps well in the fridge, and it’s sure to please everyone: all you have to do is pick their favourite fruit!

Strawberry and blackberry fruit tart

Strawberry and blackberry fruit tart

First, the pastry: normally for a fruit tart, you should use a sweet shortcrust pastry (90 grams softened butter, 65 grams caster sugar, 3 egg yolks, 200 grams plain flour) but I used a rough-puff instead this time (250 grams butter at room temperature but not softened, 250 grams plain flour, 150 ml cold water, 1 tsp sea salt). It worked ok, so I guess it’s really up to you! Line your tin, cover with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Blind bake the pastry for 10-15 minutes in a 190c pre-heated oven (until it’s cooked through but hasn’t turned  golden yet) and allow to cool.

While the baked pastry cools down, make the crème pâtissière. You need:

  • 250 ml full fat milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 60 grams caster sugar
  • 25 grams plain flour
  • optional: 2 tbsp kirsch

(1) Place the milk, vanilla seeds and pods into a large saucepan and warm through.

(2) In a mixing bowl, place the egg yolks, sugar and flour and whisk until mixture becomes pale.

(3) Gradually add the warm milk and vanilla to the egg mixture and, once well mixed together, return to the pan.

(4) Cook on a low heat, constantly whisking, until the mixture thickens and reaches the wanted consistency. You want it thick enough to be scooped with a spoon.

(5) As soon as it reaches the right consistency, pour the cream into a clean bowl and place a circle or greaseproof paper, or cling film, on top of the mixture, to prevent a skin forming at the surface.

(6) If you choose to add kirsch to your crème pâtissière, do it once it has cooled down completely.

Fruit is glazed with warm apricot jam

Fruit is glazed with warm apricot jam

We can now assemble the tart!

(1) Put 4 tbsp of apricot jam in a saucepan with a little bit of water and warm through until liquid. Carefully brush the inside of the pastry case (this will stop any leakage of cream or fruit juices through any small cracks).

(2) Spoon your crème pâtissière into the pastry case and make sure it is equally distributed around the tart.

(3) Top the cream with sliced fruit. Here, I used strawberries and blackberries, but you could also have kiwis, raspberries, blueberries, anything you fancy (see the other tart I made earlier this year). To give your tart a more ‘rustic’ look, just throw your fruit in. I am a bit OCDed so I always have to line my fruit perfectly, but there’s no rule here…

(4) With the rest of the warm apricot jam mix, lightly glaze the fruit. This will not only make your tart shiny and appetising, but it will also prevent any oxidation if you don’t eat it all on the same day. Clever stuff.

This is delicious with a cup of Earl Grey. Or, a sweet dessert wine…

A fruit tart I had made before, with a different selection of fruit.

A fruit tart I had made before, with a different selection of fruit.