- Food & Drink
Necessity is not simply the po-faced, thrift-obsessed mother of invention. She’s also the saucily winking, good-time godmother of puddings. Many a cook has stood in his/her kitchen staring at a stale loaf of bread or a black heap of bananas and thought: “What the hell am I going to do with that?”
The answer is always “apply sugar”.
At The Dish and The Spoon I was recently faced with a glut of French pastries. We have croissants, almond croissants and pains au chocolat delivered daily by Boulangerie Jade. Due to a minor ordering snafu and a torrent of rain so biblical that the whole of Nunhead retreated indoors to gather materials and pets for South East London’s Ark, we ended up with a French pastry mountain.
I had a choice: take them home and live off buttery dough for 3–4 days or do something delicious that would lure the residents of SE15 in through the doors. I tried to fill up my rucksack with croissants and saunter casually out into the storms, but The Dish was wise to my continental breakfast thieving ways. Turning them into something delicious, it was heavily hinted, was the preferred option.
I remembered Nigella Lawson doing a swish bread and butter pudding with pains au chocolat. Some Googling, some fridge foraging and a few minutes waiting for the culinary muse to descend and bring it all together lead to the French pastry pudding that now sits on The Dish’s counter every day – it’s proved too popular to take off the menu.
My first version just used pains au chocolat and raspberries. The second pudding was almond croissants and strawberries. The final recipe was a mix of all three pastries, jumbled together with raspberries and dark chocolate chips.
Raspberries are perfect, because they take to heat that much better than princessy strawberries, but I think blueberries would also work. Maybe peaches, possibly blackberries, and I’m considering pear and ginger for later in the autumn. Just smash the contents of your fruit bowl and the stale remains of your petit dejeuner and see what you get.
Chocolate, raspberry and French pastry pudding
Serves 6–8 as a warm pudding or makes 9 squares, when cut cold
8 French pastries, such as croissants, almond croissants and pains au chocolat
60g dark chocolate, chopped
4 medium egg yolks
1 medium egg
50g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
400ml double cream
400ml whole milk
1 Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/fan oven 160°C. Slice the French pastries along their length to make 1/2cm wide strips. Arrange half the pastries in a 30cm x 30cm ovenproof dish. Scatter half the raspberries and chocolate over the pastries.
2 Cover the bottom layer with another row of French pastries, ensuring they overlap each other and fit together quite snugly. Scatter with the remaining raspberries and chocolate. Set aside.
3 Whisk the egg yolks, egg, caster sugar and vanilla extract in a large heatproof jug. Set aside.
4 Place the double cream and milk in a pan and gently heat, whisking frequently, until steaming hot. Pour a splash of the cream mixture into the egg yolks and whisk until combined. Add and splash more and repeat. Then pour in the remaining hot cream and whisk until thoroughly combined.
5 Pour the custard mixture over the pastry, trying to soak all the slices in it. Set aside to soak for about 15 minutes, then bake for 30–40 minutes or until set. Either slice and serve warm with single cream or allow to cool and then slice into 9 squares. The pudding will keep well for up to 4 days in the fridge.