Having The Potato And Bread Pudding With Pastry Cream

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Welcome to springtime in the Dordogne. It’s bright. It’s wet. It’s moss on the column of my terrace, and I actually kind of like it.

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Welcome to jokes on the community room white board. In case you’re wondering, that’s a potato. The jokes…well, they don’t make any sense in English, but I’ll give you the direct translation and then the meaning and if you can fit together the play on words in your own head, I bet you’ll get how it’s funny. It really is funny; I promise.

Direct translation:
It’s better to have the potato than to be a potato.
It’s better to be a potato than to get a potato.

What it means:
It’s better to feel awesome than to be a potato.
It’s better to be a potato than to get hit in the face with one.

And then, next to all the judgmental potato commentary, Miss Potato, who says…

Direct translation:
I’ve got the French fry!
What it means:
I feel awesome!

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Basically, potatoes are really funny and the French like using food metaphors to say they’re in a good mood. I’ve got the potato/French fry/peach/banana are all ways to say one is feelin’ good.

It’s springtime, and I’m feelin’ good.

Good enough to whip out the whisk and resume some cake creation, which I haven’t fit in a lot of for the last couple months.

This isn’t exactly cake, but it could almost pass for one. It’s bread pudding baked in a cake pan and slathered with pastry cream pretending to be frosting. It is, dare I say it, a bit more reasonable than cake. It feels decadent without knocking you flat on your ass for the rest of the afternoon. I can’t necessarily say the same for the birthday cake I’m planning for myself, but you know, we can’t be reasonable all the time.

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Fun fact: my Dhagpo anniversary and my birthday are only about a week part. So this week (well, last Tuesday and next Monday) I get to celebrate two years in the humid, mossy, blessed woods of the Dordogne and all the potato jokes I can handle as well as twenty-six years of life on this earth. Hooray!

Next time we chat, I’ll be writing from the good ol’ US of A, where I’m stopping in to say a hello to the people who made me. I’ll also be at the Santa Barbara Bodhi Path on Wednesday the 15th from 6-9 if you want to stop by for a bit of sitting and a cup of tea.

Recipe…

Bread Pudding with Pastry Cream

This is a traditional bread pudding, with the exception of cardamom subbed out for cinnamon. It’s all that bread pudding should be: tender and moist, lightly sweet, spongy and delicious. The pastry cream is a milk-based version, going with the theme of reasonability, and quick to whip up to add a little extra oomph to this classic dessert.

For the Bread Pudding:

Adapted from Allrecipes.

Enough bread to fill a 9-inch round cake pan, in 1-inch (2 cm) chunks)*
4 eggs
2 1/4 cups (540 mL) whole milk
1/2 cup (100 grams) demerara sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) cardamom+more for powdering
1 pinch of salt

*I’d say it took me about 3/4 of a baguette.

For the Pastry Cream:

1 1/2 cups (360mL) of milk
1/3 cup (66 grams) of sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon (15 mL) cornstarch
1 tablespoon (15 mL) flour

To make the pudding:

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F (175˚ C). Arrange the bread chunks evenly in a 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the milk, sugar, cardamom, and salt and mix until fully combine. Pour gently over the bread. Allow to soak for five-to-ten minutes, depending on the crustiness of your bread, poking a bit to encourage absorption. For white bread or challah, five minutes is plenty. For baguette or country bread, a good ten-minute soak supports the proper amount of sogginess to get moist pudding as the final product.

Bake for 45 minutes or until pudding springs back when touched. Allow to cool completely.

To make the pastry cream:

In a medium saucepan, stir the sugar into the milk until dissolved. Heat on a medium flame until the edges begin to bubble.

While the milk is heating, whisk the eggs. Then, sifting over a little at a time to avoid clumps, whisk in the flour and corn starch.

Once the milk is hot, temper it into the eggs. Pour it into the egg mix in a slow stream while whisking steadily. Once finished, pour the mixture back into the sauce pan. Place the saucepan on medium-low heat and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl to cool.

When the pastry cream is thick enough to spread without running, pour it onto the bread pudding and spread gently with a spatula. Extra pastry cream can be…eaten with a spoon, used as cookie dunking material, frozen into creamsicles–you decide!

Sprinkle a bit of cardamom over top of the finished product and you’re go to go!

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