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Sometimes you need to take a pause to reflect on everything going on. This is one of those weeks with all the saddening events which have occurred and so many questions in mind. In times like these I like to regroup and think how to rebalance the sadness; to contemplate how to shape the world into a place safe for our children.
In the wake of the Christmas holidays I sat staring at the panettone going stale on the kitchen counter. The foundation of life for me is family and friends; giving each other enough strength and resilience to go out in the world to just be, but hopefully to also bring some joy. I believe in random acts of kindness and demonstrating you care when the world is not cooperating. To me this means a soup and magazine delivery for a sick friend, a lasagne for the freezer for a new mother and general tea and sympathy in tough times.
This recipe for panettone bread and butter pudding is a perfect pair for a cup of tea or coffee with a friend. Think of it as something small to fortify with a sprinkle of nostalgia for a Christmas when all was as it should be. Baking is reassuring because, unlike life, if you follow the instructions the result is always predictable.
This dish has a spoonable creamy custard base sitting beneath a crisp caramelized panettone crust, providing a bit of crunch. Bread and butter pudding is an English dish but it uses the Milanese Christmas cake, panettone. There are other Italian desserts such as zuppa inglese which are derivations from English desserts so I thought to include it. The recipe was taught to me by the private chef of a university friend of mine whose father was the Deputy High Commissioner of Canada to the United Kingdom. Sadly I no longer remember his name although I would have liked to credit him.
Budino di panettone (panettone bread and butter pudding)
500 grams panettone, sliced 1.5 cm thick
100 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
500 mls whole milk
500 mls double cream
6 egg yolks
150 grams caster sugar
30 grams raisins
Heat the oven to 160C. Select a rectangular baking dish which fits inside a larger roasting pan. Grease the baking dish with some of the butter and sprinkle half of the raisins over the bottom of the dish. Spread the butter on the panettone slices on both sides. Layer the panettone slabs, overlapping each other in the baking dish. Place the baking dish inside the roasting pan.
Make a custard by heating the milk and cream together until it reaches 86C. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the hot cream and milk slowly, whisking continually. Pour the mixture into a clean bowl and stir continuously over low heat until it can coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Pour the mixture over top of the panettone, poking with a knife tip to ensure the panettone is evenly wet. Sprinkle the remaining raisins over top. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan so that the water reaches half way up the sides of the baking dish (being careful not to get any in the baking dish). Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown and the custard has set. Let cool for 1 to 2 hours and serve at room temperature.