Here's a slightly alien-looking bread pudding I made. Alien not in the way of flavors, but in the type of bread used. It's greyish-black and made with bamboo charcoal powder. The bakeries sell these breads here, they come as sliced loaves, burger or hot dog buns. Bamboo charcoal is supposedly good for health, as it helps clean up toxins in our body. If you can get past the psychological hurdle of eating this healthy version of 200-day-old bread, there really isn't any difference in taste to regular bread. It's just like eating Century Egg...easy once you've prepared yourself mentally, that is :-).
Right: Bamboo charcoal buns, cut into 1cm-wide strips
I thought this would be a good (albeit unsual) contribution to the Bread Pudding of the Month Club initiated by my friend, Victoria of Mission: Food. I wanted to play a little with the colors, flavors and textures of this bread pudding so I made a blackberry custard that gave a pop of purple, poached some pears in more blackberry juice as well as nutmeg and rosemary, and lastly created a crispy topping from the pear skin.
Purple on black
Now you may not be able to get bamboo charcoal bread where you are, but if you do one day, it's worth giving this bread pudding recipe a go. The custard ingredients can be changed to something else of course, as that will determine the main flavor of the dessert. The dark hues from the bread will provide the mystery and a talking point. Oh and let's not forget the pear topping....juicy and crispy at the same time. I never knew fried pear skin can taste so audaciously lovely!
Keep the peeled pear skin, crisp it up and use it as a garnish for a bit of crunch!
Poach pear in blackberry, nutmeg and rosemary mixture
Before I sign off, a big thank you to all of you who participated in my Polvoron mold giveaway. I assigned each comment a number and ran the numbers through Random.org. We have a winner and I'm so happy to announce that she's no. 27!
True Random Number Generator Min: 1 Max: 43 Result: 27 Powered by RANDOM.ORG
Who is that? Well, it's Lizzy from That Skinny Chick Can Bake! Congrats Lizzy, I'll be in touch soon. :-)
Blackberry Bread Pudding
4 bamboo charcoal buns, sliced into strips
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Arrange the bread strips inside two well-buttered heatproof bowls or ramekins (1.5 cup capacity). Set aside.
2. In a blender, blend the blackberries, sugar, milk, egg and vanilla until smooth. Strain mixture to remove seeds.
3. Spoon the mixture carefully over the bread strips, making sure the blackberry custard seeps in between the strips all the way to the bottom of the bowl. Use a small fork or toothpick to gently shift the bread to allow the custard to pass pass through. Leave to soak for about 20 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 180C. Fill a deep baking pan halfway up with water and place the bread pudding containers carefully inside. Slide the baking pan into the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes until the top of the pudding puffs up slightly and is set. Remove and leave to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. To garnish, add poached pear on top and sprinkle with with pear skin crisps.
2 firm whole pears, cored and peeled
1/2 cup blackberries
1 cup water
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1. Core the pear through the bottom and slice off the top of the pip/core by sliding a knife halfway through the side of the pear (see above photo). Remove core by twisting at the base with a small fork or tweezer.
2. Peel the pears and slice skin thinly. I used a lemon zester that peels and juliennes the skin simultaneously. Reserve the skin for frying (see below).
3. Blend blackberries, water, sugar and spices until smooth, strain to remove seeds and pour into a small, deep pan. Bring mixture to the boil on high heat, then add the pears. Lower the heat to medium and poach the pears for 45 minutes until soft, turning the pears over every 10 minutes or so. Leave to cool thoroughly or place in the fridge for at least an hour to chill before serving.
Pear skin crisps
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1/2 cup pear skin
1. Warm the olive oil or butter in a small pan on medium-high heat, saute the pear skin for 3-4 minutes.
2. Stir constantly until the skin turns crispy, then remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and drain excess oil by placing skin on a paper towel. Leave to cool.
3. Divide the pear skin crisps into two portions and sprinkle on top of the two bread puddings.