Bob Carr, the former Premier of NSW and my old boss, once described sausage rolls as “fat wrapped in fat”. I reckon he’d call this dish “fat-soaked carbs” or maybe even “Elvis pudding”. This is definitely not for the faint hearted, with all the butter and cream, not to mention egg, bread and sugar, but its such good comfort food. And its not like you’d make it every day.
I have adapted this from Neil Perry’s recipe in his “Food I Love” cookbook. I’ve simplified his recipe a little, and there’s a lot less butter and cream in this. I also added lemon zest to the batter, I think it creates a slight zing that cuts through the richness. Use brioche (egg loaf) if you can get it, or a panetone. If you can’t get either of these, I’d just go for plain white bread.
- 1 loaf of brioche, sliced about 2 cm thick
- about 25 grams unsalted butter
- 5 eggs
- 1 vanilla bean pod (or half a teaspoon of vanilla extract if you can’t find one)
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/2 cup of double cream
- 2/3 cup organic sultanas (organic ones are better quality and tastier)
- 3 tablespoons liqueur, such as calvados, brandy or apple schnapps
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- about 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- zest of about half a lemon
- icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Grease a baking dish with butter and set aside. (You can use a small casserole dish, as I do, a pie dish, or a loaf shaped dish – whatever you have)
Step one – get the sultanas drunk. Splash the liqueur over them and pop them in the microwave for about a minute, then set aside. Butter the bread and line the bottom and sides with some of the slices. Drain the sultanas and sprinkle about a quarter of them around. Repeat this layering of pieces of bread and sultanas until all used up.
In a bowl or large jug, whisk the eggs, milk and cream. Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest. Slice the vanilla bean carefully down the length of it, and scrape out the seeds into this mixture. Whisk to combine everything.
Slowly pour the batter over the dish, letting it seep down through all the cracks. When you’ve finished, let it sit for 10 minutes so the bread absorbs the batter. While it’s resting, boil the kettle. Place the pudding dish into a larger roasting pan, and pour in enough of the boiled water until it comes halfway up the dish.
Carefully place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the pudding dish from the bain marie and allow it to cool down for half an hour. Dust with icing sugar. Neil Perry advises refrigerating for 8 hours, then turning the pudding out and slicing, serving cold. I like to dig right in once its rested for half an hour, and have it warm. Its your call. I would definitely serve it with a little extra cream, or ice cream.
Tip: Don’t throw away the vanilla pod once you’ve scraped the seeds out. Put it in a clean dry jar and fill the jar with caster sugar. The pod will give a lovely delicate vanilla flavour to the sugar, which you can use for making cakes etc.