If there’s a downside to baking all of your own bread, cakes and muffins etc, then it is certainly the potential for waste. As I share a two bedroom flat with only one other person and I bake almost everyday, there’s usually a selection of items hanging around at any one time. Generally, I use a fair bit up by taking it to work with me, but even so, there’s often a few things left.
Last Sunday, I baked a small batch of strawberry muffins. Only eight, but homebaked muffins are best eaten fresh (i.e. on the day of baking) or they go a bit dry. By last night, there were four left in my cake tin and I thought I would get creative.
As most UK people will know, Wednesday nights are currently playing host to the smash hit baking programme Great British Bake Off programme (#GBBO). When I lived at home with my parents, this was something my mother and I would watch together every week. Now that I’ve moved out, my boyfriend and I watch it together. He comes over to my place and I cook a meal for us to eat while we watch #GBBO. This week, I was determined to make use of my leftover muffins. As I’ve mentioned, muffins that have been left a while dry out (even if you seal them in a tin) and the flavour starts to disappear with the moisture. So, I thought, the muffins needed to be ‘rehydrated’ so to speak.
What better way to do that, than by putting them into a pudding? Yes! A pudding!
Now, for the British amongst us, the basis of this recipe will be very familiar indeed. At it’s core it is a Bread & Butter pudding. But without the butter. And with much more cream.
Essentially, by pouring an egg/milk/cream mix over the leftover bread and muffins, you are covering them in an uncooked custard. When you put the dish in the oven, this sets. The top becomes crispy and sugary, while the bread inside the putting becomes velvety and moist. It is a very versatile basic recipe, and you can tweak it in numerous ways. I chose to add some extra fruit to the custard before baking, but, as my boyfriend suggested, you could add other things like dark chocolate chips if you have them to hand.
To make this, you need to preheat the oven to a medium-high temperature and find a good solid pyrex or ceramic baking dish. The amount of cream/milk you use depends on the size of the dish and the amount of bread. You are aiming to ensure all but the very edge pieces of muffin are covered in liquid. Base on my own experiences of making bread puddings in the past, I find it is best to leave the bread to soak in the liquid overnight. When the time comes to bake, you can then top the dish up with extra liquid to ensure that the dish won’t be too dry. Ideally, you should only be able to see the edge pieces poking through the milk/egg layer. This is why I have used rough quantities; the amounts will all depend on the dish size etc. Be wary, however, that if there is too much liquid the custard won’t set. When the dish goes into the over, the bread should only be covered by around 5mm of liquid or so.
Muffins (I used four, and added some leftover crusty bread to the edges of the dish)
3 Medium Eggs
450-600ml Single Cream (US Heavy Cream)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract or seeds of 1 Vanilla Pod
Between 1-1.5 pints of Milk (Preferably full fat)
1/2 cup White Sugar
1/2 cup Demerara Sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1. After preheating the oven and greasing the dish, chop the muffins into layers of even thickness.
2. Line the bottom & sides of the dish with pieces of muffin.
3. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugars with the milk, cream and vanilla. Whisk thoroughly.
4. Pour the mixture into the dish, ensuring all of the bread is covered with liquid. Leave to soak overnight or for a minimum 4 hours.
5. When you are ready to bake, remove the dish from the fridge. If the liquid has all been absorbed, add some more milk/cream (do NOT add more eggs, or it’ll be way too ‘eggy’) until you’re covering the soaked bread by 5mm or so. Add some fruit into the dish if you wish.
6. Bake until the liquid has set and the top has turned a nice golden brown. Serve immediately with cream, fresh custard or ice cream.