I think the closest thing to a bread pudding I ever ate in my life was ekmek kadayifi – an Ottoman dessert with bread soaked in syrup and served with clotted cream. This bread pudding with currants though is not that sweet. In fact, it is slightly bitter.
I love Jane Austen. Her books are set in Georgian period in England at the turn of 19th century and they are witty, funny and full of different subjects and interesting characters.
A few years I bought a book called “Dinner With Mr. Darcy” which had recipes inspired by the novels and letters of Jane Austen, together with stories related to that era and to her life. Though I read the story parts, I didn’t try any recipes as most of them were too full of meat. And at some point, the book is forgotten.
A couple of weeks ago, as I was going through my bookshelf, I saw the book and remembered its existence! I went through the recipes again and found this one. By a rare coincidence, I had a whole stale ciabatta at home – one I was thinking of making some dumplings to go with a soup or something. Instead, I used it for this.
The recipe is from Martha Lloyd’s Household Book. There is a very nice text about the book by one of my favourite historians, Lucy Worsley, on Jane Austen’s House Museum, which you can read here.
The pudding is not sweet as I wrote in the beginning. There is a very small amount of sugar, especially considering how bitter currants can be. So if you are looking for something sweet, you may be disappointed. But don’t, because it is very delicious in any case!!
(makes 1 pudding in a 24cm pie dish)
5 dl (or 2 cups) milk
zest of a large lemon
85 gr. butter (plus a bit more to grease the pie dish)
200 gr fresh breadcrumbs*
5 large eggs
1 dl + 4 tsp (or 1/2 cup) granulated white sugar, plus 2 tsp for sprinkling on top
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
200 gr. currants, I used frozen
cream, to serve
*This is about 1 whole ciabatta, minus the exterior crust. How I prepared: I just took the stale bread, cut away the crust and put the rest in a food processor. I processed until I got quite small pieces – as small as I could get, but not powdered.
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 24cm pie dish and put aside.
2. Put the milk in a saucepan and warm it until it boils.
3. Take the milk away from heat and add lemon zest and butter. Let the butter melt fully in hot milk.
4. Put breadcrumbs in a medium bowl and add hot milk and butter mixture. Mix a little and then let it soak for half an hour.
5. In a mixing bowl, put eggs and whisk well.
6. Add sugar and whisk well.
7. Add ground nutmeg and whisk a little more.
8. Add soaked breadcrumbs and currants and fold, until all ingredients are evenly mixed.
9. Transfer the mixture to greased dish, smoothen the surface if needed and sprinkle 2 tsp sugar on top. Put in the oven, in medium rack and bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the top is slightly browned. You can serve it warm or a little later and you can serve plain or with cream. It also tastes great the next day. Enjoy!