Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Left-over loaves

We make a big effort to try and keep our bread waste to an absolute minimum, but sometimes a stray stale loaf makes it back to our kitchen looking for a good home.  I have a couple of favourite ways of using up old bread, and the one I want to share today is Bread and Cheese Pudding.

I think Bread and Cheese Pudding might have taken the place of Macaroni Cheese as my top cheesy comfort food.  Back in the old days when I was a pasta eater, Macaroni Cheese with home-made tomato sauce used to be a big favourite of mine.  Whilst I've become reconciled to the idea of cauliflower cheese over the years, the presence of brassica gives it an air of virtue which is not entirely welcome in a comfort food situation.  Bread and Cheese Pudding made with wholemeal bread, with a mustard flavoured custard and crisp cheese topping, is nourishing, comforting, and downright delicious on a cold evening.

This is also a great way of using up a loaf you've forgotten to put the salt into, just add an extra teaspoon of salt to the custard mix.

Bread and Cheese Pudding

About five slices of slightly past-its-best wholemeal bread.
250ml whole milk
150ml creme fraiche
2 medium eggs
1 heaped teaspoon grainy mustard
Salt and Pepper
Good strong cheese, grated.  I leave the amount up to you - I like a great deal both in the custard (about 150g) and on the top (about 200g), but if you only have a small amount leave it for the top and have the custard without cheese in.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM 4.

Chop the bread into 3cm-ish cubes (you can arrange the slices artfully in the dish, if you like, but I find cubes less of a faff) and tip into an oven-proof dish.  Earthen-wear is good for a custard based dish.

Thoroughly mix together the milk, cream, eggs, mustard and salt and pepper, together with your cheese not destined for the top.  Pour over the bread cubes and top with the remaining grated cheese.  If you can, leave it for a hour or so at this stage to let the bread absorb some custard.

Place in the oven and bake for about an hour.  Check after 45 minutes by giving it a good poke right in the middle - the custard should be soft but no longer liquid.

Serve with tomato sauce, and even some green veg - if you're feeling especially virtuous!

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