My beloved “Urban Family” (definition: the family of friends you choose for yourself rather than the family into which you are born) came over for not-Christmas-Christmas lunch yesterday. I was keen to do something festive but I wanted to prioritise spending time with them rather than sweating in my tiny kitchen, juggling multiple pans and wishing it was socially acceptable to fling the dirty dishes through the open window. So I did a turkey roast with all the trimmings (in modest quantities) on Friday night and flung it in a low-maintenance Christmas Pie on Saturday. It was totally worth it.
Similar priorities applied to my choice of pudding, so I went for an adaptation of Delia’s Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding, which my Mum used to make. It was always absolutely delicious but almost heart-stoppingly rich, so I made a few amendments to see if I could make it a little lighter. The utterly brilliant feature of this dish is the fact that you can – and indeed should – make it two days in advance, which optimises the flavours as well as ticking pudding off your prep list.
My version of the recipe involved:
1 Pandoro (fluffy Italian cake a bit like Panettone, but without the fruit)
150g dark chocolate
75g unsalted butter
55g caster sugar (half the original recipe because the Pandoro is sweet)
300ml double cream + 125ml semi-skimmed milk (rather than 425ml whipping cream)
3tbsp brandy (I didn’t have rum)
Good pinch cinnamon
Good pinch salt (to cut through the sweetness and enhance the chocolate flavour)
4 large eggs (an extra one to help it set, as the mix is thinner when using milk)
Very simply, you throw everything except the eggs in a bain-marie and wait for it all to melt (it feels like it takes quite a long time so be patient). Remove from the heat and stir properly. Whisk the eggs up by hand until they’re nice and frothy, then pour the chocolate on the eggs, whisking the whole lot until it’s combined. Pour a little in the dish to cover the base before layering the Pandoro on top, then keep layering Pandoro and chocolatey goodness until you’ve run out of both. Cover, and leave the dish at room temperature to soak for a couple of hours before refrigerating.
The Pandoro is a beautiful star-shaped Italian cake, which is very soft in texture, so I was slightly concerned that the pudding would be a big, sloppy mess but I found plenty of recipes online for Panettone Bread & Butter Pudding so I thought it worth the risk. It turned out beautifully, and the modifications I made seemed to pay off – it was utterly delicious. I might omit the extra egg next time because it wasn’t as saucy as I might have liked but, other than that, I’m happy.
When the time comes, bake for 35 minutes at around 180C, until the top features a pleasing crunch and the middle is still nice and gooey. The finished pudding isn’t much to look at, but it tastes wonderful with a splash of cold double cream.