“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.”
-Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson
I have bad news.
I did that thing I do again.
That thing that I do that makes no sense.
I scratched my compulsive, everything-from-scratch itch again.
I made bread- but not just any bread, a very involved, intricate, fussy, time-consuming bread.
Then, I chopped it up and made bread pudding.
I know. I think I’m crazy, too.
But this bread… Oh, this bread.
Soft, fluffy, snowy white.
Yes, white bread. Even though I’m a nuts-and-seeds, whole-food, whole-grain, fermented, brown, brown, brown bread type of girl, I love white bread.
We all do. I refuse to hear otherwise.
Think about it… crispy, crackly baguettes, eggy challah, white sourdough boules…
White bread is great, occasionally.
Now is one of those occasions.
I baked this bread following instructions at Kirbie’s Cravings.
She adapted it from a cookbook, 65 Degrees, which outlines the Tangzhong method of making bread.
This is a Japanese-style Hokkaido bread, which is a milk, butter, and cream enriched dough. In my experience, enriched yeast doughs need a little more care to ensure they come out perfectly. Her instructions could not be any better, so I’ll send you there if you’d like to try the bread. I highly recommend it.
(You will need a scale.) I halved the recipe so I would only get 1 loaf, but found myself regretting that we didn’t have two loaves. The tangzhong paste is sort of like a bread enhancer/saver, so it will last a bit longer than other homemade breads, another reason to make two loaves. Here’s the link: Kirbie’s Cravings’ Hokkaido Milk Toast (Thanks so much, Kirbie!!)
Some tips that I learned while making this bread:
The tangzhong cooks very quickly, so stay near it while it cooks.
Set a timer for 20 minutes and let the dough knead the entire time: due to the enriched nature of the dough, the gluten development is slightly inhibited (the butter, cream, egg, and milk make it difficult for the gluten to form) and needs a long kneading period.
Your dough needs to pass the membrane/windowpane test, which Kirbie describes perfectly. She even provides pictures.
Now, these bread puddings:
you should eat them warm, with a dollop of cold, freshly whipped cream.
The chocolate is melty, the plums are fall-apart tender and tart.
The top of the bread is crunchy and the underside is custardy.
Bread pudding is a fall dessert.
This bread pudding showcases the best of late summer: plums.
They’re roasted until bubbling and syrupy, then cut into small pieces and layered among fluffy bread cubes and dark chocolate chips, then smothered in custard and baked, again, until bubbling.
The juices pour down the sides as the puddings puff up; when you pull them out of the oven they will deflate a bit, but the result of the deflation is a lovely, dense custard, filled with goodies.
You could make these with any white bread: challah, sourdough, sandwich, brioche… just cut the crusts off.
Or, you could make them with Hokkaido milk toast… Which obviously I highly recommend.
P.S. Heat any leftovers (what’s a leftover) in the microwave for 20 seconds, so they warm up again. They’ll taste like they’re straight out of the oven.
Roasted Plum and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding makes 4 small ramekins, easily doubled, tripled, or quadrupled ingredients: 2 plums or pluots 1 tablespoon of sugar 3 1/2 inch thick slices of brioche, challah, or sourdough, crusts removed and cubed 1 egg 3/4 cup milk 1/2 a vanilla bean, scraped pinch of cinnamon 3 tablespoons sugar 4 tablespoons large chocolate chunks or chips turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional) whipped cream, for serving (optional) directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Halve and pit the plums and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar and bake until syrupy and soft, 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Whisk egg, milk, and 3 tablespoons sugar together with the scrapings of 1/2 a vanilla bean and a pinch of cinnamon. Lay bread cubes over the bottom of each ramekin and place a few chocolate chips over that layer. Cube the cooled plums; place a thick layer of plums over the first bread layer, about 1/2 plum per ramekin. Top with the remaining bread cubes and chocolate chips. Pour 1/4 of the egg mixture over each dish, then sprinkle liberally with turbinado sugar. Bake until puffed, golden, and juices overflowing, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly; serve warm with whipped cream.