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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Rhubarb muffins

Hooray! First of all, it’s spring! And summer is here soon, though it feels like it’s already summer here today. 18 degrees C and sunshine – that’s summer, whether I’m here in Denmark or home in Norway. And secondly, and most importantly, rhubarb is in season! Nothing says spring or early summer more than rhubarb desserts and muffins. Although I love rhubarb in a strawberry/rhubarb pie, this soup, my mother’s rhubarb compote, rhubarb crumble……..this, is what exites me most! This is first on my rhubarb-list. Then comes the pie, that’s really good too…and it brings back memories from past summers, when my family have friends over and we just sit eating, talking, laughing and munching into the Norwegian summer night that never gets the chance to go dark, before the sun rises again. Lovely. But that’s another story. I’m a sucker for nostagia, especially the summer-related kind. Can’t help it. Now for the muffins. These darlings are a newer acquaintance, but instantly became a hit in my family, and I’ve been making them at least a couple of times every rhubarb season since. What surprised me the most when I first made them, was how incredible moist they were. We actually had to get a spoon, and scoop out the delicious muffin-rhubarb-goo and eat it like a mini dessert from a paper bowl. But the good thing about it, although I like to eat things with a spoon in general even if it’s not needed, I find it very comforting, was that we could really scrape every last bit of muffin out of the muffin cup. Very nice. And economic and ethically right, not to waste food. Which brings me to why I made these muffins right now. We have a group project at school to prepare a meal for about 200 people, sell it, and make all kinds of budgets, PR, hygienic controls. It’s quite a project. And it has to be a somewhat sustaineable meal. So we decided to go for a koncept of exploiting the nature in a good way, to go out and find edibles in the forest, your backyard or on the way to work for that matter. To use whatever’s in season, and to shop locally. So since rhubarb is in season, I suggested it, since a lot of people have it in their gardens. But mostly, to have an excuse to make them. What can I say, they are de-licious. And a smash hit with my fellow group members. And it looks really pretty. I’ve never had that purple rhubarb before, and it gave the muffins an almost plumlike pinkish colour. But tastewise, it’s all the same. Phew.


Rhubarb Muffins

100 g butter
2 dl sugar
3 eggs
ca 2 dl flour
1,5 teaspoon baking powder
0,5 dl rhubarb juice
250 g rhubarb 0,5 dl sugar
0,5 dl water

Cut the rhubarb into pieces and bring to a boil together with sugar and water. Boil until the rhubarb softens. Strain the rhubarb to squeeze out the juice. In a bowl combine the sugar and butter and stir. Add 1 egg at a time. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture. Turn the rhubarb syrup carefully into the batter. (If you use the purple rhubarb, to make a marbled effect. Or just turn it in if you want a pink batter! If you use the pale rhubarb it doesn’t really matter.) (I also made a batch of unmarbled muffins, so you can skip the straining if you don’t bother or want to. That works too! But I think I’d do it, I think it makes them so deliciously moist.) Fill the cups 3/4 full, and top with a spoon of rhubarb in the middle. Bake for about 10 minutes for the small kind, and 15 minutes for large. Sift with powding sugar or make a simple glaze, and give them a whirl. And dig in, armed with a spoon for maximum pleasure…. They’re best eaten while warm, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Or served lukewarm, that also works. Or cold with a warm cup of tea as a late night snack when the Scandinavian summer air turns crisp. These are flexible babies! But whatever you do – just do it. Make them.

Panna cotta with spiced apples

This is one classy dessert! Wow, I impress myself… I’m usually the more rustic, rough looking kind of desserts or food in general, so when I make that little extra effort, which actually is really little, I feel so proud. So of course I’m sharing it with you today!

I had this lovely dessert a couple of weeks ago at a friends house. We’ve started a little dinner-group, where one is hosts a 3 course dinner, and the rest bring the wine. It’s great fun, and a nice way to try new dishes, like this one. The appetizer was really good, so was the dinner, but we all agreed that the dessert was the highlight of the meal. And it looked quite fancy too. Like the dessertmaniac I devored it. I haven’t had that much panna cotta in my life, and the few times, I’ve found it a little boring. But this was perfectly paired with the spiced apples which balanced the neutral flavour of the panna cotta. Delicious. From that moment I was a panna cotta convert. I got the recipe, and now that I’m home on vacation, what better way to start off my days of freedom, and to finish off my first meal at home with my boyfriend, than with this fine thing? I believe the boyfriend was impressed. Like always, he’s in charge of dinner, and I’m the queen of desserts. And now I’ve added this to my repertoire! It’s nice to get some outside inspiration, cause I tend to get stuck in my old habits and food routines, but I’ll definetely be making this again! I actually think I’ll add it to my book of recipes… And that, is a sign of quality.


Panna cotta with spiced apples (4)

2 leaves of gelatine
1 vanillapod
1½ dl full cream 38%
5 tablespoons sugar
3 dl sour cream 9%

2 apples
3 tablespoons sugar
½ dl water
1 staranis
1 stick of cinnamon(4-6 cm)
½ ts ground cardamom

Soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 min. Cut the vanillapod and scrape out the seeds. Pour cream, sugar, vanillapod and seeds in a small pan, and bring to a boil while stirring. Remove pan from heat. Remove the gelatine from the water, and put it into the warm cream mixture. Stir til everything is dissolved, and pour in the sour cream. Divide the panna cotta in 4 glasses (a ca. 2 dl) and cover in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Spiced apples: Peel the apples and slice them thinly. Melt the sugar in a pan. Add water, staranis, cinnamon and cardamom and boil for about 2 minutes. Put the apples in the pan, and boil over low heat while stirring for about 4 min. Allow to cool completely.

Divide the apples onto the pannacottas and serve immediately.

Orange-tian (whatever that is!)

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I had never ever heard of anything like orange tian or tian in general, before the Daring Bakers challenge for march was announced. I like to think of myself as a person with a good knowledge of food, and particularly desserts, but this was something completely unknown to me! But that’s what Daring Bakers is about, I guess. Making me try new things, desserts I would have been missing out on through an entire lifetime, so thanks DB! I know I sometimes find it hard to think outside my favourite box consisting of chocolate, apple-desserts and pies, but it’s always fun when I get around to it. Exploring new lands. Trying out new techniques. And hoping that the result will pay off. There’s always with great anticipation that you wait for it to finish, because you never really know what it will be like. Like my dad always says when we’re trying out something new: “Maybe it’s the next McDonalds” But that usually refers to something very unlikely to be so, but still, it’s a great expression, I think! And what better feeling is there when the result comes out perfectly, just like the pictures in the recipe and tastes absoultely delicious. It’s a feeling of relief, happiness and proudness. That pleasurable feeling of satisfaction over the fact that I didn’t mess up even though it was the first time. (Or am I the only one doing a little happy dance in the kitchen when I get it right?)

The Orange tians made me feel all happy inside. They even looked good! And tasted good. I really didn’t see that coming. I was afraid it would be to bitter because of the marmelade which I’m not a big fan of. (Exept on croissants. Those two just belong together.) But my worries were unfounded. It wasn’t bitter at all, maybe a little too sweet actually. But that’s probably my fault as I might have added a little extra sugar to decrease the bitterness. Well, well. Mea culpa. Stick to the recipe, girl!

The dessert was a pleasant surprise in a manner of ways. I was a little sceptic to an orange-dessert at all. But I found orange to be the best of all the citrus-options. And I thought it would be bitter. And the pate sablee looked like just another plain booooring tastless cracker, with the only mission to hold it together. Boy, was I wrong! That was almost the best part! Luckily I had much dough left to make som extra pate sablees. I can conlude with saying it was a fun and tasty challenge. A surprisingly tasty challenge, but that’s what makes it even more fun. I can imagine I’ll be trying out variations of this dessert with other fruits or berries, maybe chocolate or caramel, peanuts, oreos…..mmmm – but the pate sablee will be the same though. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. And it ain’t. The recipe is great. I’ve made one batch of original orange tians. Did well, tasted well, well approved. Now. Start customizing!

Baked apple and nectarine

baked nectarine and apple

So this is some of what I ate this weekend: A Creole restaurant meal, a sundae consisting of homemade icecrem, homemade cookies and hot chocolate fudge sauce, tapas, giant custard filled buns at a bakery and my mom’s rhubarb cupcakes… And yes, I’m quite wellfed!

Still, of all these fancy foods I could blog about, I chose not to write about any of it. Not more than this anyway. Mentioned, but not thoroughly documented.

This is about simple, yet tasty summer food that is easily prepared. No fancy preparation, ingredients or additions, just the sweet taste of summer fruit. This dish was yesteday’s dessert and the recipe is embarresingly easy. I guess one can hardly call it a dish or a recipe, it’s really about what you have and what you like. I had a lot of nectarines and an apple beginning to look over ripe, and decided to make a dessert out of it. I picked out a book from my cookbook-selection and found something interesting looking through the pages. The book was “Mine beste sider” (my best pages) by Andreas Viestad. The recipe was originally for peaches, but this was more about using what I had rather than following a recipe, I just used it more as a guideline.

4 peaches (4 people)
100 g sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 tablespoon butter
1 dl whitewhine
50 g chopped almonds

I mad mine slightly different. I used nectarines and apple, less sugar, no wine or almonds. You can use whatever fruit you like, but pears, peaches, plums, bananas, apples and mangoes are a safe choice. Anything that doesn’t have too much water in it. Cut your chosen fruit in halves and remove eventual stones. Put them facing up in an oven proof baking dish. That looks pretty. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and mix them with the sugar. Put the vanilla pod under the fruit for extra flavour, and sprinkle the fruit with sugar. And almonds if used, but I found that unnecessary. Pour over wine and put small pieces of butter over the nectarines. Bake for 15 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius, turn off, and leave inside oven for another 10 minutes. (My nectarines needed longer time, but that propably depends on the different fruits and the ripeness. But you’ll see when it’s finished – soft and slightly golden with bubbly vanilla syrup underneath.)

Serve with ice cream and savour the sweet taste of summer.