One of my earliest memories is of my maternal grandmother slicing bread and butter. Bread and butter appeared on a plate at every meal time, indeed it was required that we all ate a reasonable amount of bread and butter before tucking into anything else. This was especially true at tea time when cake and perhaps pastry were beckoning, we would keep a beady eye on these delights while munching our way through the obligatory but delicious bread and butter.
In those days, before the invention of sliced bread and the quality of bread in general was to go downhill for decades, bread would require slicing. My grandmother would have a technique of holding the tin loaf against her ample cross over apron-ed frame she would begin by spreading the thinnest layer of butter onto the exposed bread surface, then starting with her knife at the center and always slicing towards her, she would proceed to take off first a slice with square corners, turn the loaf then slice the other side with a round edge, thus producing two wafer thin slices of bread to add to the ones neatly laid out on the plate. The knife which was used for both buttering and cutting the bread was regularly sharpened on the back door step. As children my brother and I would fight for the square edged slices, though now I can't imagine why, other than it simply being an opportunity to continue our rivalry at the dining table.
On Sundays at tea time, in addition to white bread and butter thinly sliced, there would occasionally be a plate of bara brith that had received the same treatment, buttered then thinly sliced, a treat, but of course we knew in what order these were to be eaten.
I have been staring at an upturned bowl which conceals the remains of one of the Christmas puddings ever since the 25th, last night as I was dropping off to sleep, it suddenly occurred to me I could try to turn it into bara brith. After all it already has everything I would wish to include in my recipe plus a little bit more.
For this recipe which produces two small loaves, I used:
400g of Strong White Flour
400g of left over Christmas Pudding
300g of cold milk
10g of fast action yeast
9g of salt
I began by heating the left over pudding just enough to break it up so that it would be well distributed in the dough without too much mixing. Mix the flour, milk, yeast and salt to form a rough dough, add the cooled down, broken up Christmas pudding and continue to mix until a soft dough is achieved. set the dough aside in a covered bowl in order to rise. The dough doubles in size in just over an hour in a warm place. The dough is understandably very difficult to handle because of the softness and the added butter from the Christmas pudding, another time I might well do what I do with brioche and allow for a period in the fridge to stiffen the dough up and make it easier to handle. Somehow I managed to divide the dough into two and transfer the pieces to two loaf tins lined with parchment paper. I baked them at 200 degrees C for 30 minutes.
|Basic mistake in causing the sugar syrup to crystallize results in a crunchy white sugar topping rather than the desired varnished look of this gorgeous Georgian leather bucket.|
I shall make this again as a fine way of using up left over Christmas Pudding, I did see Nigel Slater (is anyone else out there worried about Nigel, he seems to have really fallen into a strange place these days) make a Christmas and pudding and brandy butter topping for bought ice cream with his. . . . . .
The quality of the end result depends a great deal on the quality of the pudding of course and I wouldn't consider making this with a commercial Christmas pudding.