So, I had the main sussed days in advance (chicken stuffed with Gruyere and basil, wrapped in prosciutto, with wild garlic mushrooms, rice, and a mushroom cream sauce, in case you were wondering) but the dessert was a little more tricky. I wanted something that wouldn't require loads of ingredients (I wasn't working in my own kitchen and didn't want to have to lug back bags of flour and sugar on the journey home), so! to Pinterest! There I spotted a 'peaches and cream overnight french toast'. Well, as usual I decided to give the recipe my own little twist. Eliminate the overnight element, swap stale bread for buttered brioche and add a few handfuls of fresh raspberries to the peach topping and you've got yourself the most fantastic bread and butter pudding, but kicked up about 10 gears. Can you hear that? That's the sound of British bread and butter pudding purists shaking their fists in rage. If it helps you can think of this as the most wonderful peach, raspberry and cream summer pudding instead. Breathe, pudding purists, breathe.
In the supermarket, I toyed with the idea of just getting normal sliced white bread, which would have made this a more 'traditional' bread and butter pudding (not that that was what it was intended to be in the first place, but that's what I had in mind for my interpretation). The white loaves were bigger than the brioche loaves, and cheaper, too. But I'm so, so glad I chose brioche. Even if you don't make the fruit and cream topping, please, please try your B&BP with brioche at least once. It adds a whole new flavour, a new richness, and although it's undoubtedly worse for you than the sliced white, it's so, so worth it. Being an enriched bread adds flavours that you just won't get from non enriched doughs. Butter the already buttery brioche and now we're talking. If it's any consolation to the nutritionists who are collapsing at the thought of so much fat, I did only do one layer of the bread, not three or four, as traditional recipes would ask. (There I go again, deviating.)
I was doubtful of the 'and cream' part of the original recipe. It called for reducing a measure of double cream by half in a saucepan, then pouring it directly over the soaked bread and sliced fruit, and finally baking it in the oven. I didn't really see how this would work and was interested to see what the result would be. It was a kind of really creamy (obviously) set custardy drizzle over the top of the peaches and raspberries, that became really sweet when it was baked and began to caramelise on top. It was delicious. My advice? Double the cream quantity in the base recipe. Triple it. Go all the way. You can't get enough of the stuff.
Finally, the addition of raspberries was purely for my own enjoyment. I love the combination of peach and raspberry (especially with that baked cream custard!!) but you could use most fruits, I imagine. I would recommend, however, at least trying this recipe with peaches. It's original creator was really onto a winner there. The peaches soften in the oven slightly, not to a jammy mush, but to lovely warm and sweet segments, and don't you dare take the skins off them! The raspberries work nicely by cutting through all the sweet with their tartness. Other fruits I can imagine working well are blackberries, strawberries, bananas, nectarines or pears.
Peaches And Cream Brioche Pudding
1 small loaf sliced brioche
50g caster sugar
2 handfuls of raspberries
150ml double cream
1. Preheat oven to gas 5. Butter your brioche slices. Lay them in an ovenproof dish/tin, slightly overlapping.
2. Whisk together the eggs, milk and sugar. Pour over the brioche in the tin, set aside for 10 minutes to allow liquid to soak into the bread. All the liquid will get absorbed by the bread and will set when cooking, so don't worry if there seems to be a suspicious amount of liquid at the bottom of your tin at first.
3. While the bread is soaking, quarter the peaches, remove the pits and slice each quarter into 3 slivers. Arrange the slices over the brioche. Scatter over the raspberries.
4. In a small saucepan bring the double cream to a simmer and continue to cook until reduced by half and the cream is thick. Pour the cream sauce over the top of the peaches, raspberries and brioche.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the custard and brioche is set and no liquid leaks from the bread. Serve warm or cold with extra cream or ice cream.
Now, some holiday shots: