My first bread pudding!

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It feels kind of wrong posting this now, on such a sunny spring day when I usually eat light summer food. The smell of cinnamon and baked apples, suddenly put me in an Christmas mood and (almost) longing for autumn! But there´s still a crispness to the air, which means that mornings and evenings are still cold, and best enjoyed with a sweet breakfast or dessert. Enter Bread Pudding!

Bread pudding is something that I´ve stumbled upon several times among my many English/American cookbooks, and certainly it´s been mentioned by Jamie and Nigella more than once when talking about comfort food. And I´ve seen pictures of this dessert-thing over and over, over the years. It always seemed intriguing to me, tempting in a comforting way, but not tempting in the way like chocolate, ice-cream, cheesecake or other desserts can do, so although I understood the concept and idea of this dessert, it never made it to the dessert table in my house, because of strong competition (and a chocoholic boyfriend). It wasn´t until a couple of years ago I finally actually got to try bread pudding, when me and boyfriend were eating out, and the menu was set, so no choices for us and no possibility to not choose bread pudding, if that should have appeared on the dessert menu. Luckily for us, it did, as bread pudding was the dessert on the menu that day and was served to us! Any other way, we would have missed out… We shared a mini loaf of bread pudding, and OMG, it was so extremely good! We scraped the bowl to get everything of the good stuff, and agreed it was the best thing on the menu that evening. Later, I got to thinking of baking this for myself and make my own version. Somehow, years went by, with no bread pudding being made. But a couple of days ago, a picture of bread pudding from my pie-book caught my eye. And a few days earlier I bought a sour dough bread which turned out to have ONE gigantic hole instead of the usually many few, making it difficult to use for spreads or fillings. So, what to do…? I don´t throw food, I get creative!

Croutons? Nah – boring. Plus, I don´t plan on having a salad where it could be used for the next days. French toast? Nah, that wouldn´t look good with that hole. But maybe something french-toast-like, like…. Bread Pudding! Yaaay! That´s what I´m making!

I´m glad I realized that this was an overnight project, because it´s oh so disappointing when your mind (sweet tooth) is set on something, and you don´t get it because “it needs time”. Since this was my first time doing this, i certaintly needed a recipe as a starting point. But since the recipe said 12-15 servings, and I´m only one (one person – though I definetely can take more than one serving…) I needed to adjust the amounts, and adding apple and the topping, I made my own version, and a very good one! The only problem was that I only had a family-sized baking dish, resulting in a not so tall bread pudding. But who cares – It´s my first bread pudding, cut me some slack. And besides, low height with a large surface equals more crispy topping!

Bread Pudding

120 grams sour dough bread

1 egg

50 g sugar

1 dl full cream

1.5 dl milk

1 apple

Topping:

10 g butter

20 g sugar

20 g oats

(Any white bread can be used, but I felt sour dough was perfect as the acidity balances out the sweetness. But if you want to go all in, for more sweetness, feel free to use whatever: toast-bread, brioche or leftover croissants or cinnamon-rolls, if such things exist!)

Instructions

Spray a 20×30 cm (9×13 inch) baking dish with nonstick spray.

Cut or tear the bread in cubes or chunks, and line your dish with one layer of bread cubes.
Cut the apple, and put it in a pan along with cinnamon, water and half the amount of sugar. Stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook for 2 minutes, constantly stirring. Remove from heat and spoon the filling onto the bread layer. It doesn’t have to be perfect, Just spread the apples about.Top the apple with another layer of bread and pack tightly.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, cream and vanilla. Whisk until well combined.
Pour mixture over the bread. Cover with foil and let chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight.When ready to prepare, take bread out of the fridge and let rest on the counte.

Preheat oven to 150 C/ 350F.
Prepare the topping: Mix together butter, sugar, and oats. Spread over the top of the bread. Again, doesn’t have to be perfect.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until bread is fully toasted and eggs are set. Let cool for at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature, with cream, yoghurt or  ice cream if so inclined. Enjoy!

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Super moist bananabread with pecans!

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First things first: Is it banana bread? Or is it banana cake? To me, it´s cake. I mean, when I can choose between cake and bread – well, the answer it pretty much given… And another thing, why would one call it bread, by any means? It contains lots of sugar, butter, fruits and no yeast – unlike any bread. But you do, usually, bake it in a bread-like-pan…. So I guess that´s why it´s got it´s bread-name. Anyway, who cares, as long as it tastes like cake! And when you can present it as bread, though in reality it is a cake, everyone´s concience is clean: The baker´s and the eater´s. (Or mine, as it would be called in my case…)

I had some very overripe bananas lying around – and so starts every story of a banana bread. (cake)
Actually, I had kind of let them overripe on purpose, so I could have an excuse to bake with them! But only partly…My mother bought all kinds of food, and pretty much filled my fridge and freezer before she left, so it was inevitable that something would – not go to waste – but, end up in baked goods. Maybe that was her plan all along. Ahh, she knows me too well!

So, Sunday came, the bananas were brown as ever, and I had cake-cravings! Off to the bookshelf to find a nice recipe. I do have a couple of winner banana-bread recipes, that are just amazingly good, but I´m kind of in this getting-to-use-my-cookbooks-flow for the moment, so I grabbed three candidates and started the search. I almost turned to Dorie, again, but then it would be a bundt, and not a loaf. I wanted a loaf. And I feel with her, I shouldn´t change the recipe too much, I have a feeling it´s best to leave it to her. And I wanted to use some yoghurt and nuts, cause that´s good stuff in a banana bread. So, finally, I picked the banana pecan bread, from Leila Lindholm´s Piece of Cake. The picture of that bread was one of the first things that got stuck on my mind from that book, along came many other things… And one of the reasons I got the book! Besides, it´s so pretty! But, I haven´t really baked anything from it yet besides a bread, so it was about time I started the serious business – on to the cakes!

I adapted the recipe slightly, substituting some of the butter with yoghurt, powdered sugar with sugar, and some of the flour with whole wheat, but the original recipe goes like this. And I only had 3 bananas… But I don´t have the measurements I used, so I present to you the original recipe!

Pecan-banana bread

150 g butter
1 dl sugar
2 dl powdered sugar
4 ripe bananas
2 eggs
3 dl flour
1 ts baking powder
pinch of salt
75 g pecan nuts

Stir the sugars and butter light and creamy.
Mash the bananas (keeping a few chunks if you like – I know I do!) and stir them into the batter. Add the eggs. Mix the dry ingredients and pecans, and gently fold them into the batter. Pour into a buttered loaf-pan, and bake the cake for about 30 minutes in the center of the oven. (Mine needed longer) A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean. Allow to slightly cool, and dig in!

This cake can be served pretty much any way you like: Warm or cold, with our without butter, nutella, ice cream….you get the picture. I thought it was really good straight from the oven, warm and nice, so that the butter I added just melted into the cake. But on the other hand, it´s also really good the second, or third day, when it has had time to set – then you really get the moistness of this cake… Yummy either way!

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Rhye Bread

So….I’ve moved to Denmark! To Copenhagen! And I’m loving it here!

I’ve been here for a month, but it feels like I’ve been here forever. I didn’t have a place to live when I got here, so I stayed in a hotel the first week when school started. Then I found a room for rent, where I’m living now, with a really sweet girl and her even sweeter 5-year old daughter. And then we went for a trip with my class for 3 days, and when I got back I had to buy books, go to ikea to buy a little bit of everything and there have been lots of partying. And a little reading. On top of this, I’ve been computer-less until now, cause I had to turn it in as it wouldn’t play cds. But the cost to fix that equals the cost of a new computer, so no thanks! What I’m trying to say is, there hasn’t been much time or possibilities for me to blog. Not that there hasn’t been things to blog about. I mean this city is packed with bakerys! Whereever you go, around every corner there’s a sweet smell of cinnamon, chocolate, bread, roasted almonds…. Don’t go hungry here! On second thought, do go hungry! Especially it you’re visiting. But for someone like me, who’s staying here for at least 4 years, I’ll try to limit it to weekends, or whenever I get a visit. Then it’s perfectly legal! But I still feel a little like a tourist, and find myself inside those bakerys a little too often. I already have a favourite, and of course it’s right next to school… So to put my lunch-trips there to an end, I decided to bake some delicious and nutritious bread. After all, I am studying nutrition, so I can’t be seen at the bakery too often… Of course I could buy bread there instead of all the sweet things, and I know they have seriously good bread. (The week I stayed at a hotel I ate their bread for breakfast every morning.) But that would be expensive. And somehow, I always end up buying something sweet when I enter a bakery, so I have to avoid it. Just like an alcoholic, I know. Luckily, I like to bake! I’ve made this bread once before, and I remembered it to be really good. It’s dense and heavy, moist and full of seeds with a certain sweetness from dark syrup. Lovely rhye bread, perfect for breakfast and lunch. Just like the Danish like it! (though I found the recipe in a Swedish Elle!)

Rhye Bread
(makes 2)

Day 1
4 dl rhye seeds
3 dl sunflower seeds
3/4 dl flax seeds
3/4 dl ground cumin
2 ss salt
5 dl boiling water

Put all the ingredients minus the water in a bowl. Pour over the boiling water and stir. Cover with clingfilm and leave overnight. (I didn’t have that sort of patience, so I gave it about 4 hours, and I thought it worked out just fine)

Day 2

5 dl water
60 g yeast
2 dl dark syrup
10 dl dark rhye flour
5 dl wheat flour

Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water. Mix in all the ingredients, and pour in the mixture from day 1. Stir with a wooden spoon for 40 minutes, or 30 in a machine. (I didn’t have the patience to do that either, though I see the importance of it. But 15 minutes gave a decent result in my opinion!)

Butter two bread pans and dust with flour. Fill them up 3/4 with dough, even out the surface, and sprinkle with rhye flour. Leave for 30 minutes.

Turn the oven to 250 C, put the breads in, and turn it down to 210 C. Bake for at least 90 minutes. If it starts to turn black, cover with aluminiumfoil for the last half hour. It might need longer time, then be sure to cover with aluminium foil. Avoid opening the oven during the baking. You can’t eat the bread the same day you’re making it, it needs to rest for the next day. But it’s so worth waiting for, it’s durable and stays fresh for up til two weeks! But it won’t last that long…

Caramelized banana cake

I never buy bananas for eating. Quite logically, since I don’t like them. But what I do like, is anything banana flavoured, exept bananas. Weird, I know. Banana bread, banana ice cream, banana fudge, banana milkshake, banana cake – you get the picture. It just transforms into something way better. So I never end up with overripe bananas by accident, “forcing” me to make banana cake, because I don’t buy them in the first place. Which is kind of sad, because I love banana cake, and you’re excused to make it when your bananas turn black. But when life doesn’t give you overripe bananas – go out and get and get them! So when I spotted a big bag of brown-turning-black bananas at the supermarket for a give-away-price, I immediately visiualized this banana cake, and bought them. This was my sign! The supermarket aka life gave me over ripe bananas for this purpose. I’m sure. Well, not a moment too soon. I bookmarked this recipe a long time ago, but for the lack of bananas in my life, making it just never happened. The recipe is from J’s Kitchen – a beautiful blog with just as beautiful photos and mouthwatering food. She made 3 versions of this banana cake, I decided on the last attempt which she said was the best. Although they all look good to me. She also said it wasn’t very sweet, but I thought it was more than sweet enough. At least for breakfast. The perfect monday morning breakfast. I actuallt skipped the gym this morning and replaced it with banana cake, quality butter and cinnamon coffee. It was the right thing to do.

Caramelised Banana Cake

70 + 10 gr butter
40 + 40 gr caster sugar
2 bananas thinly sliced
2 eggs
180 gr plain flour
20 gr cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
80 ml milk

Preheat oven at 180C and prepare baking pan.
Caramelise the bananas: in a nonstick frying pan, heat 40 gr sugar and 1 tablespoon water until it starts to caramelise. Add 10 gr butter. Let the butter fully melt, then add sliced banana. Cook until softens – mash while cooking. Cool.
In a bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, and baking soda.
Beat 70 gr butter and 40 gr caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Add cooled caramelised banana.
Fold in flour mixture alternating with the milk in 3 additions, starting and ending with flour mixture.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes (depending on pan size).

(The original recipe says makes 4 mini loafs. I made one regular loaf instead, and baked it for 40 minutes. It could probably have baked a little longer, but I was hungry and I like slightly gooey cakes.)

Peshawari Naan

I cannot explain how much I love Indian food. I eat it on a very regular basis. Weekly, actually. Luckily, my boyfriend shares my enthusiasm, so it’s very easy to decide on Indian when we want something tasty for the weekend. We’ve both developed great skills, if I may say so, in preparing Indian food at home. Practise makes perfect I guess! But there is one thing that’s been missing in our very private Indian restaurant. And that is naan. When we go out to eat Indian, like most other people, we order naan. But not the plain kind. No, no, no. The peshawari kind, also known as sweet naan. It’s like regular naan bread, but with a sweet filling of raisins, nuts and sugar.

If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to! Next time swap the regular naan for some peshawari goodness. That sweet taste goes so well together with the spicy Indian dishes. I cannot recall exactly how I discovered it, or when or how the transmission from plain naan to peshawari went, but I guess I read about it. And since I like all things sweet, I imagined this would be delicious, and quite right, this is seriously good. And ever since I took my first bite into peshawari naan, there was no going back. Naan would never be the same. From now on naan to me equals peshawari naan.

But at home, we can’t order naan. And I’ve always thought of it as too much work, though I’ve been wanting to make it for years. So until now, naan has been replaced with garlic bread. If I only knew how ridiculously easy it would be to make naan, (I thought I would need a spesific oven, maybe some strange flour and it took me quite a while to figure out that the mystery filling in sweet naan was actually things as common as raisins and nuts) I would have started a long time ago. But better late then never. My new year’s resolution works! (I marked several recipes I’ve been meaning to try – naan beeing one of them)
It was so good – the texture was just right, and the filling….. Ohhh my. From now on, there will always be peshawari naan in this household. Ready for any Indian dinner!

I found a recipe from my beloved book The Complete Book of Indian Cooking by Veronica Sperling. Probably one of my favourite cookbooks. I also used it for the lamb pasanda I made. But the recipe said not to fill the naans, but that’s what I wanted, so I found a recipe on BBC by Anjum Anand as well. So my naans were something in between, I guess. I used almonds instead of pistachios for instance. Here’s the BBC recipe:

Ingredients
250g/8¾oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
110-130ml/4½fl oz milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
30g/1oz flaked almonds
1 tbsp butter, melted, for serving

Filling
70g/2½oz pistachios, shells removed (or almonds)
35g/1¼oz raisins
1½ tsp caster sugar

Directions

Sift together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Mix the milk and oil together in a separate bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients.
Slowly mix together the dough by working from the centre and incorporating the flour from the edges of the well until you have a smooth, soft dough. Knead for 8-10 minutes, adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky.

Place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for at least an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Then knock back and form into five equal-sized balls.

For the filling, pulse together the pistachios, raisins and sugar in a food processor until the mixture forms a coarse powder. Divide into five equal portions.

Preheat the grill to its highest setting and place a heavy baking sheet on the top shelf to heat.
Roll out each of the five portions of dough balls into thick circles. Fill half of each circle with one portion of the filling leaving about a one-inch margin around the edge. Wet the dough around the edges with a little water and fold each circle in half to enclose the filling. Pinch the dough around the edges to close.

Gently roll out each naan into a teardrop or oval shape. Prick with a fork and place the naan on the hot baking sheet and grill for about 1-2 minutes until there are nice brown spots on the surface. Brush with the melted butter and serve hot.

Vørterbrød (Wort bread)

Vørterbrød is the Norwegian name for wort bread, apparently. I really didn’t know how to translate this, or what to call this bread, until now, that I found a definition of what vørter beer, one of the main ingredients, is.

Vørter beer (wort beer) is a non-alcoholic, unfermented drink produced through the carbonation and sterilisation of wort made from malt, hops and water. It is thus, per definition, not a beer and should not be labelled beer, but was given a dispensation to this in the Norwegian Beer Act of 1912 regarding production and taxation of beer. The reason for this is found in the history of Vørter beer.

Vørterbrød is a type of the traditional Christmas bread with raisins like panettone, stollen and other variations that seems to be part of many different Christmas cuisines around the world. Here in Norway there are two kinds: Christmas bread and wort bread (or cake, as some call it) The Christmas bread is made of wheat, raisins and sometimes succades.

Wort bread, one the other hand, is made of part wheat, part rhye, raisins and spices like anise, ground cloves, cinnamon and pepper. All good Christmas things into one. It has a much richer taste, and maybe it takes some getting used to, because it tastes a lot more than the ordinary Christmas bread. More spices, more syrup, more dense, more of everything and a lot better in my opinion! I love it. And the smell…..Oh, the smell. Lovely licorice-like and a dark brown colour from the rhye and the syrup.

You have to try it. Warm thick slices straight from the oven with a thick layer of good quality butter. Or a slice of Norwegian brown cheese – gjetost, if you’re into that. I’m not, but a hear this is the perfect combo. Well, what do you know. I’m back from my divine lunch, and I have a confession to make. I’m a brown cheese convert. That wasn’t bad at all. It was delicious. I, a non-brown cheese eater, can recommend brown cheese on wort bread. It’s delish. The bread is quite spicy, well not spicy, but filled with spices and flavour. And the cheese is very sweet, so together: A match made in Christmas heaven.

I found a recipe on the net that I was going to use. For some reason, I started to flip through the pages of one of my breadbaking-cookbooks from the bakery Åpent Bakeri, and found a recipe there. To simplify, meaning not having to write down the recipe from the net or dragging the computer into the kitchen, I decided on this recipe instead. And when the dough was done and I was done kneading, it hit me: The wort beer! I forgot it! I read through the recipe to check, and to my surprise, no wort beer in the wort bread recipe… That is strange. Well, at least I didn’t do nothing wrong. So I guess I’ll have to use it next Christmas. Or sooner. Or else: One more year in the fridge. (yes, I had some left from last year.)

Vørterbrød
250 g raisins
5 dl water
600 g wheat
400 g rhye
10 g (2 ts) sea salt
100 sugar
50 g yeast
100 g syrup
0.5 ts ground pepper
0.5 ts cinnamon
0.5 ts ginger
0.5 ts ground cloves
0.5 ts ground anise
50 g butter

(You’re supposed to soak the raisins for one day, but I didn’t and it tasted fine, so you can leave that part. I also left out ginger and pepper. Didn’t have any and it was too snowy outside…)

Directions

Add sugar, egg, butter, salt, cardamom and 2 cups flour; mix well. Stir in raisins and enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Use as little flour as you can, the dough should be a little sticky. Place in a big bowl covered with clingfilm. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each portion into breads. (I made one bread and the rest buns. Of course you can make only buns too, if you prefer) Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Brush the breads with one whisked egg.

Bake at 200 degrees C or 395 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until dark golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Serve while still warm with butter, cheese or jam. Have yourself a merry little Christmas moment.