I never quite understood the allure of a moreish bread and butter pudding until I grew into the man I am today. Outgrowing that regressive chocolate-or-nothing habit of childhood will open your eyes to a world where comfort isn’t just about sticking your tongue in a chocolate fountain.
I find respite in the simplest of desserts these days — a tarte tatin made with seasonal fruit, a Dutch baby pancake rained on with icing sugar or a pillow fluff cloud of mousse, are all more rewarding on days when a slice of cake seems a touch too extravagant. On a rainy afternoon when I have bitter coffee to look forward to in a few hours, I will definitely crave something sweet to go with it, and nothing warms me faster than an out-of-the-oven bread and butter pudding.
Tea-time rusk soaked in milk makes a super-speedy pudding for days when you couldn’t bother with recipes that call for creaming, folding, and all that other stuff. What makes this pud truly amazing is that the top is finished with a generous amount of jam that loosens a bit as it hits the hot surface of the pudding, then becomes a shiny, sticky glaze as it cools. I could have this hot or cold to be honest.
For this particular rusk pudding, I’ve topped it with a homemade pear and vanilla jam, but really you could use a store bought jam that you like. I’m quite fussy about using a good quality jam, but if you’re not, that’s cool. The most important thing is that you make this recipe your own with a tweak here and there.
Rusk Pudding With Pear and Vanilla Jam
Yield 6 servings
This super easy pud is as close to store-bought as you can get. Fairly cheap milk toast, a favourite tea time snack is emptied into hot milk with yolks and baked till golden. Smear the top with jam to finish.
The Pear and Vanilla Jam
Makes about 3 jars
Special equipment: candy thermometer.
Vanilla Pod 1/2
Lemons 2, juiced to yield 100ml
Pears 450g, peeled, cored, and cut into small dices
Apple 190g, peeled, cored, and cut into small dices
Brown Sugar 250g
The Rusk Pudding
Milk 1 litre, none of that semi-skimmed or toned stuff here please
Milk rusk 450g, broken into smallish pieces (I really like Nafees here, but you could use any that you like)
Lemon 1, zested
Orange 1 zested, preferably Malta
Butter 1 heaped tablespoon
Egg Yolks 6
Jam 300g (I used a homemade Pear and Vanilla, the recipe for which is above)
Caster Sugar 180g
For The Jam:
Score half the vanilla pod and using the blunt end of the knife drag it along the open pod to scrape the seeds out. Whisk this with 30ml of lemon juice and set aside.
Put 140ml of water, the pears, the 30ml of lemon juice you whisked the vanilla into and the scraped out pod in a heavy based saucepan for 15 minutes or until the pears look soft. Add to this the apples and continue cooking with the lid on for 10 more minutes.
Add to this the sugar and increase the temperature to a boil. You have to watch this mixture now because it’s sugar and will get hot very quickly. Cook for ten minutes, mixing all the way through so that it doesn’t catch. Then add the rest of the lemon juice and keep a candy thermometer ready. When the mixture records a temperature of 104 degrees celsius, it will appear thick and glossy. This is when you take it off the heat and pour it into a heatproof container to let it cool for ten minutes.
Ladle this into ready, sanitised jars and lid the jar till you will use it.
For The Pudding:
Start by bringing the milk to a boil over medium heat and when boiling, take it off the heat and add in the rusk, the two zests and butter. Let this cool and the rusk soften for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius in the meantime.
Lightly whisk the egg yolks and add them to the milk and rusk mixture. Stir lightly to break everything up. Pour this mixture into a baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is set and golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before smearing on the jam and serve.
I think everyone should invest in a good candy thermometer because it’s so useful when making caramel, this jam, and so many other baked goods. If you don’t have a candy thermometer though, just chill a glass plate in the freezer for ten to fifteen minutes and transfer a few drops of your jam to it towards the end of the cooking process. If it’s wrinkly and doesn’t flow back when poked, it’s ready.