Monday, October 4, 2010

Heavenly Cake Bakers: Caramelized Pineapple Bread Pudding Cakes

I don't wear a watch. I am, however, pathologically obsessed with the time of day. These facts combined mean that, in practice, I use my phone as a watch, and am constantly clicking it to light up the display and tell me the date. This recently became a problem when I got a new phone that refuses to estimate the time when it is out of range or on the subway. Instead, it just says **searching**. As the subway displays also refuse to tell me the time when the train is in a station, this can get a little frustrating. Some subway stations are long and clockless, and I am usually hurrying out of them on my way to be late somewhere, so although I am aware of my phone's little quirk, I frequently pull it out reflexively and check anyway. It is usually **searching**.

Lately, this morning included, I've caught myself talking wearily to it under my breath. "Searching? I just bet you are." Or, in more philosophical mood; "Searching? Well, aren't we all."

This week, I channeled my searching into the making of a heavily caramelized, remarkably complicated Pineapple Bread Pudding. It began with the making of a brioche. Actually, I made two brioches, using Rose's recipe; one large one to sell at the bakery, one small one to use in the pudding. I trimmed the little loaf into cubes (it came just shy of the ingredient list's required weight, but I went with it), and then ravenously ate all of the trimmings.
Next, while the brioche cubes dried in a 200 degree oven, I made a very lightly cooked creme anglaise base (cream, milk, sugar, eggs...) and poured it into a shallow pan. When the cubes were dry, I slipped them into the creme anglaise to soak, covered and refrigerated.

Then came the caramel. This recipe has not one, but two caramels. The first, a quick water/sugar mix, with a little butter added, went to line the pudding molds--a shallow corningware dish and a larger oval IKEA number. The second was a kind of poaching liquid for the pineapple, with pineapple juice (or in my case quince poaching liquid) and corn syrup added in. I poach-roasted the pineapple, then cut it up, which was nice, because it had a clean yellow interior and a caramel crust, sort of like the smoke ring on good barbeque. As all this went on, I ravenously consumed the other half of the pineapple. Sensing a pattern?
At last, the assembly: Cooked pineapple laid in over pan-lining caramel, covered in milky bread cubes, which had soaked up all of the liquid. The dishes were placed into a water bath, and into a 300 degree oven. When they were lightly browned and bubbly, I pulled them out and unmolded the small square one.

Oh. The unmolding didn't go so well--as many other bakers have pointed out, the caramel stayed in a hard, thick layer in the pan, as all the rest flipped semi-neatly out. I went after it with a spoon and it cascaded down onto the pudding in taffy-like waves. Very pretty, actually, just not exactly right for such an otherwise soft dessert.
I found this one overly sweet, and would have liked a larger proportion of bread to topping, or perhaps only one caramel, but we ate it all, and Matt, newly returned from Rotterdam and sporting his usual sweet-affinity palate, was a fan.

Next week, the Heavenly Cake Bakers continue the search with Molten Chocolate Souffle and Lava Cakes.


faithy said...

Great idea to bake them all in one the trouble of having to proportion t hem into smaller portions.

Vicki said...

Two loaves of brioche. I would have gladly bought it! Love your oval pan. Perfect for this dessert.