I've made a couple discoveries: 1) I don't like whiskey. 2) Whiskey-spiked whipped cream is the bomb.
I adapted Joe's grandmother's Irish Bread & Butter Pudding for my book club's Irish tea-themed event last week. I'd had it many times made by his mom, and it's the ultimate comfort food. Perhaps the main way Irish Bread & Butter Pudding differs from other bread puddings is that the bread is buttered before being soaked with the custard and baked. But I wanted to update the recipe a little. For a fancier teatime look I made the pudding in this quiche dish instead of the ordinary 9x13-inch pan. I also lightened up quantities of butter and eggs, and both endeavors called for messing with all the proportions. I used my co-workers as guinea pigs for the first batch, which I can now admit was a bit soggy. I don't think they noticed, though, because it was the whiskey-spiked whipped cream that got all the attention. "Did you say whiskey??" Yes, and go light on the whipped cream, at least until deadline.
That was my other update: I soaked the raisins in whiskey, and then spiked the whipped cream with some. I love how the cream smooths out the edges of the hard stuff. This is not your grandma's bread pudding. Or at least not Grandma O'Neil's, though her whiskey-free original is still awesome. I also brush some apricot jam on at the end for added sweetness and color. And the proportions of round two worked out with the approval of Joe, who said it tasted authentic, in the family sense.
I got compliments on the pudding at book club, and my friends shared my co-workers' enthusiasm for the whiskey cream. They even dolloped it on top of scones. Add some Irish tea, beer, colcannon, haddock chowder, soda bread, shortbread, and Irish fiddling, and we had the makings of a lovely afternoon.
|The gracious hosting and gorgeous decor were courtesy of Rebecca of A Love Letter to Rome. The amazing Mrs. Hot Potato baked the lower two tiers of Lemon; Chocolate, Almond & Toffee; and Parmesan Thyme Cheddar Chive Shortbread.|
Irish Bread & Butter Pudding
Adapted from Grandma O'Neil's recipe
½ cup bourbon whiskey (optional, see recipe)
1 cup raisins
12 slices country white bread
3 tbs butter, softened at room temperature
½ cup cup light brown sugar
½ cup cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1½ cups milk
1 cup half-and-half
¼ cup apricot jam
In a bowl, pour the whiskey over the raisins and leave them to soak while you prepare the rest of the pudding. If you don't drink alcohol, pour boiling water over the raisins instead to plump them up, just enough to cover the raisins.
Butter one side of each slice of bread, then place three slices buttered-side down into an 11-inch round quiche dish. Cut a fourth slice of bread into four triangles, and place them in the quiche dish to fill the gaps.
Stir together the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle half of the mixture over the bread in the dish. Drain the raisins of whiskey or water, then sprinkle the raisins on top of the sugar mixture.
Cut the remaining slices of bread into four triangles per slice. Arrange them in concentric circles in the quiche dish, shingling the bread as you go.
In another bowl, beat the eggs together with the milk and half and half. Very carefully, slowly pour the liquid over every piece of bread in the quiche dish. If any corners of bread are dry, make sure to pour some of the liquid on top, or lightly press the bread into the custard. Sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture on top. Don't sprinkle any raisins on top, where they will shrivel up and burn.
Let the bread sit and soak up the custard while you preheat the oven to 350° for at least 10 minutes. The soaking will ensure a light, creamy-textured pudding. Bake it for 35 minutes. The custard-soaked bread will have puffed up, but never fear, it will sink back down quickly.
In a small saucepan on the stove or in a bowl in the microwave, heat the apricot jam until it is just melted. With a pastry brush, dab the jam all over the top of the pudding. Return the pudding to the oven to bake for 5 more minutes.
Let the pudding cool to room temperature. I like to eat it cold, so I move it to the refrigerator and cover it. When ready to serve, dollop each serving with a spoonful of whiskey-spiked whipped cream.
Whiskey-spiked Whipped Cream
½ cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
2 tbs granulated sugar
2 tbs bourbon whiskey, cold (optional)
Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream to stiff peaks on high speed. Be careful not to over-whip, or you'll be in the early stages of making butter.
Add the sugar and whiskey, if using, and whip for another 20 seconds until incorporated. Refrigerate in a jar or other container until ready to use, and refrigerate any leftovers.