Thursday, October 12, 2017

Budino di Mele e Pane (Apple Bread Pudding)

Jim Lahey, the genius baker behind Sullivan Street Bakery who popularized the no-knead artisan bread technique, has a new and eagerly awaited book out, and it’s a great one. The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook (W.W. Norton, 2017; $35) written with Maya Joseph, focuses on the sourdough side of bread (both no-knead and 

knead-y). He begins with the fundamentals of making a natural starter, and offers a few ways of doing this. He then moves smartly onto the “biga”, the doughy pre-ferment that is the leavening of many of Lahey’s sourdough breads. The actual bread recipes include artisan standards such as Pane Toscano, Ciabatta, Pane Pugliese, as 

well as more intriguing breads such as Lahey’s Hamilton Buns (yes, inspired by the musical), No-Knead, Naturally Leavened Brioche (I must give this a go), and Truccio Saré (a whole wheat sourdough with a blackish crust). And then there are newer versions of Lahey’s pizzas – Pizza Bianca, Capicola, Mele e Finocchio (Apple and 

Fennel), and even Carota (Carrot) and Asparagus. A chapter called “Breakfast at the Bakery” features recipes such as Panini d’Uovo (egg sandwiches), Bran and Blackberry Muffins, Cardamom Cinnamon Buns and Bomboloni (Italian doughnuts). There’s even a chapter on slow-roasted savory dishes, such as Pasilla 

Agresivo (Chili!), Pasta al Forno, and the exiting sounding Punta di Petto di Tè (Brisket Braised in Black Tea). A chapter on Sandwiches, Salads and Condiments is followed by my favorite, Dolci. This includes a panoply of baked goods, from Flourless Triple Chocolate Cookies to Pinolata (Pine Nut Tart) to Lahey’s coveted recipe for panettone. But of all the wondrous recipes in this book, it was the Budino di Mele e Pane (Apple Bread Pudding) that snared me. Jim Lahey says that it took 20 years to perfect it, and I believe him. It is sublime. Use some crusty, homemade bread that’s past its prime – it will make all the difference. I substituted Honeycrisp apples for the Braeburns and served it slightly warm with sweetened whipped cream. Oh my.

Budino di Mele e Pane
(Apple Bread Pudding)
From The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook by Jim Lahey (W.W. Norton, 2017; $35)

Yield: One 9-inch round bread pudding; serves 6 to 8
Equipment: One 9-inch cake pan and a 12-inch square of foil

Oil for the foil
¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 cups (500 g) half-and-half
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon (4 g) vanilla extract
4 cups (150 g) stale bread torn into 1 ½-inch pieces
2 large Braeburn apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon (15 g) unsalted butter, softened

1. Place rack in the middle of the oven. Spray or lightly brush one side of the 12-inch square of foil with oil and set aside. Heat the oven to 450°F. Place the sugar in the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan and shake it gently so the sugar is in an even layer. Bafke the sugar for 12 to 14 minutes. The sugar will fully melt and turn a light amber color. Remove from the oven and let cool. The caramel will harden and may crack, making loud, startling pops. Lower the oven temperature to 400°F.
2. Whisk the half-and-half with the eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the bread and apples and combine, using your hands or a spoon to mix until well combined.
3. Rub the surface of the cooled caramel and the sides of the pan with the butter. Pour the pudding mixture into the pan. Cover the pan with the foil. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips of caramel. Bake the pudding for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until puffy and set. Remove the pudding from the oven and removed the foil. Let the pudding cool for 2 minutes. Very carefully invert the pudding onto a serving plate. Let the pudding cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.