Doughnut bread pudding
A simple bread pudding with a trick up its sleeve: it looks, feels, tastes and smells like doughnuts.
No doughnuts were harmed in the making of this dessert. Instead, it’s the culinary equivalent of an optical illusion, a trick of the tongue, if you will.
The custard, rich with vanilla, gives the bread a soft, spongy sweetness while making the exposed edges delicately crisp in a way that’s similar to deep frying. The addition of a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar completes the magic – it really does look, feel, smell and taste like doughnuts.
I very rarely plan to make this; my prompts are either urgent (usually late-night) need or the sight of bit of bread that needs using up. It doesn’t require any special ingredients or equipment, and you can certainly adapt as needs be. In fact, there’s a very good chance you could make this right now.
You can also make it with pre-sliced bread, if that’s what you have to hand. Just cut each slice – crusts on or off, it’s your call – into quarters on the diagonal. Line the ramekins, starting from the edges and working inwards, with the long side of each piece of custard-soaked bread on the bottom of the dish, giving you lots of pointy bits across the top to crisp up.
Doughnut bread pudding
150g (6 oz) bread
180ml (¾ cup) milk
60ml (¼ cup) cream
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
for the topping:
2 teaspoons caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cut the bread into 3cm (1 inch) cubes and let it sit out for half an hour – the drier it is, the more custard it will absorb. (If you’re using sliced bread, see note above.)
In a mixing bowl big enough to accomodate all the bread, whisk the egg, milk, cream, sugar and vanilla together with a fork. Add the bread and toss, gently but thoroughly, in the custard mixture. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Set your oven to 170°C (325°F) and lightly grease two 1-cup ramekins (or one 2-cup baking dish) with butter.
Divide the bread mixture between the ramekins and place them on a baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar topping mixture. Let the puddings rest for 10 minutes. It will be torture and I apologise, but I don’t want to you to burn your mouth and the texture of the pudding will be improved, as well.
Serve as is, or with softly whipped cream or good vanilla ice cream.