Distracting myself with bread pudding

Bread pudding

Bread puddingBefore Covid-19 you’d be forgiven for thinking that lounging around the house and not having to go to work for weeks, possibly longer, would be lazily wonderful, but sadly it really isn’t like that. Confined to the house with just one walk a day, and said house being my parents’ home in Surrey (I didn’t fancy self-isolating alone in a two bedroom flat when there was a five bedroom house with a large garden and the company of my folks available), worrying about family members with the virus, is not an easy task. But staying at home is an essential task and we do what we can to calm and busy our restless selves.

Bread puddingI’m missing work terribly and was heartbroken that I couldn’t go on with the baking, making and delivering of afternoon teas. I’m missing the little things I left in my flat in London before evacuating to Surrey. I’m missing the freedom of not being able to pop out to the supermarket because I fancied making huevos a la flamenco tonight and need chorizo and serrano ham. I’m missing drinking wine and dancing on our dining room chairs to Kylie with my housemate who has escaped to his family home in Ireland. But we do what we can to get through it. I’ve been going for my daily walk (10,000 steps), enjoying the sunshine, blue sky and spring flowers as I go. I’ve picked up a book I meant to finish ages ago. And of course, I’ve been busy in the kitchen.

Bread puddingThere is not much else that I find as calming as switching on Classic FM and rolling my sleeves up to cook or bake. Yesterday I distracted myself from some very difficult and worrying news by making bread pudding, using up some leftover end pieces with some dried fruit, some cinnamon and ginger (couldn’t just pop-out to pick up the mixed spices I’d usually use), some milk, brown sugar and a precious egg. It was simple, quick to make, and tastes delicious. We all enjoyed a slice with our morning coffee. This recipe is perfect if you have any leftover bread that’s not good enough for sandwiches anymore and if you can’t get hold of mixed dried fruit simply replace it with whatever you have (chopped apple, chunks of chocolate, raisins, glace cherries…). This lockdown is a time to get creative and try old recipes with new ingredients – let me know what you’re making and how you get on!

 

Ingredients:

This is what I used, but the joy of this recipe is that you can adapt it and use whatever you have…

600g bread

500g mixed dried fruit

140g brown sugar (plus a little extra to sprinkle on the top)

350ml milk

1 egg

A generous sprinkling of ginger and cinnamon (around a tea spoon of each)

 

Method:

Tear the bread into small, bitesize pieces. Add the mixed fruit, sugar and spices and mix together. Beat the egg into the milk, pour over the dry mixture and using your hands – this is the bit kids love! – squelch it together. Pour your mix into a baking tray, lightly oiled and lined with baking paper. Sprinkle the extra brown sugar on the top (I was rather generous with this as it makes the yummiest crust!) and bake on 150 for around 30-40 minutes or until brown.

Going bananas for cake!

Banana loaves are, as we all know, a great way to use up squishy brown bananas that have maybe seen better days. But I find they can be a great way to use up other fruits or other sweet foods.

The secret ingredient I use in my banana loaves is clotted cream. It adds richness to the cake and prevents the loaf from becoming too dry. With such a wet mix it does mean that you may have to bake it for a bit longer (top tip – cover the cake with foil for the second half of the bake to prevent the top from becoming too dark) but it’s worth it – and the extra calories!

Today I’m going to share not one but two of my favourites with you. Banana and pear is a particular favourite of mine; I love cooking with pears, whether savoury or sweet. I stumbled upon using pears in a banana loaf when I had some that were on the turn and I just didn’t fancy making a plain pear cake and I had bananas that needed to be used up so why not put them in the same cake? And it worked really well! So it’s now my go-to recipe when I want to make a banana loaf with a fresh twist.

In winter though, don’t we just want a bit of chocolate in almost everything we eat?! So today’s banana loaf included a good measure of roughly chopped dark chocolate. This makes the cake feel that bit more indulgent, especially if served with a generous blob of cream!

 

Banana loaf with pear

Ingredients

4oz butter

4oz sugar

2 eggs

1 banana, mushed

1 pear, finely chopped

1 tspn vanilla extract

4 dessert spoons of clotted cream

8oz self-raising flour

 

Method

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, followed by the vanilla extract, clotted cream and banana. Stir in the chopped pear before sifting in the flour and mixing on a high setting very quickly. Transfer into a greased and lined loaf tin and bake on 150c for 40 minutes. You may need to cover the cake with foil and bake further (I check at 10 minute intervals) until the cake passes the skewer test.

 

Banana loaf with chocolate

Ingredients

4oz butter

4oz sugar

2 eggs

2 bananas, mushed

100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

1 tspn vanilla extract

4 dessert spoons of clotted cream

8oz self-raising flour

 

Method

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, followed by the vanilla extract, clotted cream and bananas. Stir in the chocolate before sifting in the flour and mixing on a high setting very quickly. Transfer into a greased and lined loaf tin and bake on 150c for 40 minutes. You may need to cover the cake with foil and bake further (I check at 10 minute intervals) until the cake passes the skewer test.