I'm standing in the showers of the Ulster Rugby Team and wondering to myself how did I get here? This is not what I expected when I pulled up to the impressive Kingspan Stadium this morning.
I was at Kingspan for a trade show; a cake trade show! My favourite kind. Andrew Ingredients are an all Ireland baking supplier and they had kindly invited me down to check out the show, sample a few a goodies and take a tour of the stadium while we were there. This is how I find myself surrounded by the surprisingly faint musky smell of 22 sweaty rugby blokes while my companions took selfies in the changing rooms. It was surreal but it was a fantastic surprise.
The show itself was a treasure trove of culinary delights. From Brazilian Pao de Queijo (cheesy rolls) to chocolate muffins, fresh doughnuts, to traditional soft baps (or rolls if you're not from Northern Ireland). They even had sugar free offerings such as Madeira and a whole table full of Gluten Free treats that would have made my Coeliac Mum and her Sisters extremely happy. Each selection was baked using just a few of the different flour mixes offered by Andrew Ingredients and I have to say that eyes were opened about what is achieveable from a simple bread mix.
It was delightful munching my way round the tables and stocking up on treats for later. It also gave me the urge to bake myself which leads us to our recipe today.
The hardest part of this recipe is patience. Patience to wait for the gorgeous loaf of brioche bread to go just firm enough to ensure that pudding wouldn't be too soggy or dry after baking. The patience to stick with the slow pour when pouring the eggy custard over the eggy bread - this is not a dish for those who don't like eggs. The patience to wait for mixture to absorb and permeate every crumb in the dish. Finally, the patience to cool after baking so that you don't scald your mouth after it comes out of the oven. Patience is key here, difficulty is not.
White chocolate and apricot bread & Butter pudding
1 loaf Andrew Ingredients Brioche Bread
3 medium eggs
500ml half cream half milk
1 tbsp Vanilla extract
3 tbsp caster sugar
6 or 7 dried apricot halves
75g white chocolate chips
For the custard mix the eggs, sugar, vanilla and cream mixture in a bowl and set aside.
Cut the brioche in to chunky slices and butter a single side. I've used salted butter in this recipe to cut through the sweetness but if you don't like the idea of of the occasional salty sweet bite you can use unsalted.
In a small baking dish layer the slices with the chopped apricots and chocolate chips, saving a few to sprinkle on top.
After moving the dish on to a deep sided bakin tray take the custard and gently pour over the bread. Make sure to fill as much of the gaps and completely soak the bread in the custard. You don't want dry bits as they will burn. You may need to leave it to soak and keep topping up every few minutes until it's bursting at the brim. The more care and time you put in to this stage the better your pudding will turn out. All of that custardy goodness is totally worth it. Sprinkle the last few chocolate chips to finish.
Before putting the baking tray into a 180°C oven create a Bain Marie by pouring water in to the large tray no more than half way up the pudding dish. Bake for 10 minutes and the cover with foil and bake for a further 20-30 minutes. The larger your pudding, the longer the bake. You'll know that it's done when it is golden brown and has puffed up.