Memories of Bread Pudding
I inherited a love for chocolate chip cookies from my mother in early childhood. Every Christmas we'd make a huge batch, half with chocolate chips and half with walnuts. The walnut ones would always be placed into a Christmas tin (always recycled from the year before) and given to my grandmother. It's a tradition that I'm carrying on. I know my mom is proud.
Other goodies like oatmeal lace cookies, pumpkin pie, apple crisp and bread pudding would be on rotation during the rest of the year. Although, I have to admit that I never really caught on to the bread pudding until I entered my 30's. I have no idea why it took so long.
Last Thanksgiving my mother made her recipe for bread pudding. It smelled so good. It brought back such warm memories, even though I never tasted a lick of it while growing up. When I finally did taste it, it tasted just as I thought it would. It was as if I had always eaten it.
We've dabbled with bread pudding recipes in our kitchen from time to time. Last Christmas we made a batch using leftover panettone. We've even ordered it from time to time in a restaurant or two. I recall the best bread pudding, aside from mom's, was at B in Bolton Hill. We must have hit the jackpot that night. It was perfection.
Then there's last nights dessert. I was inspired to use up two plums sitting in our fruit bowl. I needed a simple recipe that required little more than the plums, egg, sugar, flour, cream, vanilla and butter we had on hand.
I preheated the oven to 400° and referred to the handwritten recipe I had brought home from work.
Two ramekins, 3 1/2" wide, buttered. In a medium bowl I dumped in the 1/4 cup sugar, one egg, six tablespoons heavy cream and teaspoon of vanilla. I whisked this together, then whisked in 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour. While that was sitting I peeled a plum, sectioned and placed at the bottom of the ramekins. I poured the batter over the plums.
The batter, pancake-like, seemed to displace the plums. All the better. I didn't want a soggy or sticky plum bottom.
I placed the ramekins into the preheated oven and 25 minutes later we were gifted with the most perfect looking plum clafoutis. Golden, textured and puffy. They proceeded to deflate a bit as we cleaned up the kitchen and started espresso, but we weren't going for a souffle, so we weren't disappointed.
'What does this have to do with bread pudding?' I took one bite and was immediately transported. The texture was that of bread pudding. Not just any bread pudding, but my mother's white bread, bread pudding. My tongue was happy, my sense memory was overwhelmed. What a happy accident.
We saved the other plum clafoutis for tonight. I almost can't wait for dessert.
We'll save this recipe for future. For those times when we have leftover berries or a piece of fruit that is a little overripe. For those rare moments when the cake dome is empty, but it's too late to go through the motions of making something with pomp and circumstance.
I can see using this recipe on a future snowy Sunday morning, paired with a hot cup of coffee or tea, waiting for the Italian to awake from sleeping in.