Friday, February 27, 2009

Bad Bread

If you read the previous post, you might think that I would never ruin anything in baking - especially bread - since I own the tools to prevent such a thing. However, fate was not on my side last weekend when I attempted to bake Finnish Biscuit for a second time in my life while entertaining my mother who was in town, working out, visiting the local plant conservatory - and other weekend adventures.  

What went wrong?
Issue #1 The yeast was rapid rise because I tried the last of my regular yeast and it didn't activate. I thought I could just grab the 'other' yeast and substitute. I don't think so!
Issue #2 I didn't have the time to let it rise a little longer than normal, so I put it into the fridge when we wanted to leave.
Issue #3 When removing it from the fridge, I didn't let it warm up completely before baking. When I cut the dough into thirds for the loaves, it was still cool/cold in the center.
Issue #4 When I baked the loaves, I failed to adjust the time to make up for the dense loaves. I didn't use my thermometer to check the center temp (that would also mean looking in another book for the right temp - which i have somewhere, just not sure where!). 
Issue #5 One thing I did right! I let the loaves cool for several hours before slicing. However, it was not enough to save them. Two of the loaves were completely DOUGHY in the center.

What do you do with three partially doughy, practically ruined, really tasty cardamom bread? You cut all the pieces you can salvage and make BREAD PUDDING!

Bread pudding with dried apricots, dried cherries, and caramel sauce
adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook

4 cups sugar divided
2 1/4 cups water divided
4 oz dried apricots thinly sliced
4 oz dried tart cherries chopped
splash of kirsh
3 cups whipping cream divided
2 cups whole milk
8 large egg yolks
1 1/2 loaves bread - enough to fill your baking dish (cardamom bread is great for this!)

note: this calls for 3 medium saucepans. The fruit can deal with a small saucepan if you are going to run out and don't want to wash too many pans.  The milk and caramel sauce need the space of a medium pan to cook evenly and not boil over.

Prepare Fruit
Combine: 1 cup sugar, 2 cups water, splash of kirsh (cherry liqueur), apricots and cherries in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Strain fruit over a bowl and reserve liquid and fruit seperatly.

Prepare Pudding
Preheat oven to 350. Bring 2 cups cream and milk to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Whick remaining 2 cups
 sugar and egg yolks in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in warm milk mixture. Cool custard slightly.

Lightly butter 13x9x2 inch baking dish (i like ceramic - Emile Henry). Arrange 1st layer of bread cubes/slices to cover the bottom and sides completely. Trim the bread to fit crevices.
 Spoon the fruit over the bread. Arrange the rest of the bread over the fruit. 

Pour custard over bread. Press bread to submerge. Let stand until the custard is absorbed, at least 10 minutes (depending on
 how dense your bread is - longer is better. I let mine stand for 35 minutes.) Bake until custard is set and bread is golden brown on top - about 55 minutes.

Prepare Caramel Sauce 
Combine 1 cup sugar and remaining
 1/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan.  Stir over low 
heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is DEEP AMBER color. This will take about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in 1 cup of reserved fruit soaking liquid. (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir over low heat until
 caramel thickens slightly - about 6 minutes. Add 1 cup of cream. Bring to a boil and simmer until caramel thickens slightly - about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool sauce 30 minutes, whisking occassionally.
Caramel sauce can be made 1 day ahead and refridgerated. Reheat before serving.

Serve pudding warm with sauce.



Tangled Noodle said...

What a great save! So the baking fairies weren't with you on the Finnish biscuits but as they say, "All's well that ends up as delicious bread pudding!"

Shelly said...

Found your blog tonight via the foodie blog roll. I am loving your recipes, a lot of them are very unique!