Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fig Bistro's Bread Pudding

Fig Bistro is an intimate neighborhood restaurant (Asheville, NC) featuring casual interpretations of New American and French cuisine.  Their menu features an array of seasonal dishes, along with daily chef's specials inspired by the fresh local ingredients in the Blue Ridge Mountains. See my review on Yelp. The have a great wine list as well.

I think this is one of the best Bread Puddings I have every had. This recipe is probably enough for 12 people.

4 Cups heavy whipping cream
1 ½  Cups sugar
12 eggs
1 pint brandy soaked currants
2 teaspoon vanilla
Crème Anglaise as a topping
Caramel as a topping
2 day-old baguetts1
1 pound of butter for soaking baguettes overnight

Bake at 350F for 1 ½ hours or until golden brown. Serve warm. Individual servings are topped with a tablespoon or so of Crème Anglaise and several tablespoons of caramel.


Crème Anglaise

Crème anglaise (French for "English cream") is a light pouring custard used as a dessert sauce.
1 Cup whole milk
1 Cup heavy whipping cream
2 Vanilla pods (beans), split
6 Large egg yolks
6 Tablespoons sugar

Combine milk and cream in heavy medium saucepan. Cut vanilla pods lengthwise, then scrape in seeds and pulp into cream, also add scraped pods. Bring vanilla-milk mixture to simmer. Remove from heat.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar in bowl until pale. Gradually whisk (temper) hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Stir over low heat until custard thickens and will coat the back of spoon, about 4~5 minutes (do not boil). Strain sauce into bowl. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.

Caramel Sauce

This is my mother’s recipe (Kae Ottesen).The sauce is sometimes referred to as caramel sauce Cockaigne (an imaginary land of great luxury and ease described in the 13th century.)

Caramelization requires heating sugar and water slowly to around 350 °F. As the sugar heats, the water evaporates and the molecules break down and re-form into compounds with a characteristic color and flavor. The higher it is heated the deeper the flavor and the less sweet the sauce is. Go too far and the sauce is irrevocably burnt. The key is either to measure its temperature or pay close attention to the color change. The color we want is a golden brown. Many fear making this sauce as the  molten sugar “lava” flairs up when the butter and cream are added so it is important to have a larger sauce pan with taller sides. Ideally, the pan is heavy bottom with rounded corners, which allows stirring the mixture even into the corners of the pan. The heavy bottom insure even cooking which is important for best results. Adding corn syrup to the sugar helps retard possible crystallization. There are two types of caramel sauce. The first is where the sugar is first caramelized before the other ingredients are added. The other method is where the milk solids are caramelized and the sauce is cooked at a lower temperature. This recipe is the “scary” first one that flairs up. By warming the butter and using room temperature cream, we minimize flair up.

1/2 Cup water
2 Cup sugar
2 Teaspoons corn syrup
1 ½ sticks softened sweet butter, cut up
1 Cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Salt to taste

Caramel sauce is deceptively simple. Cut butter into chunks and place on a plate to warm up. Measure cream in a measuring cup and have it handy. In a heavy bottomed steep walled pan, pour in sugar, water, and heat over high heat. Have a whisk ready. When the sugar begins to melt, begin to whisk. Make sure sugar crystals are all scraped down and melted, use a wet pastry brush. As the sugar begins to darken, the darkening process will begin to speed up. Now whisk all the time and as soon as the sugar reaches a darker amber color, stir in all the butter and continue whisking until all the butter is incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 10 seconds or so, then whisk in the cream carefully keeping your face away from escaping vapors. Whisk until caramel sauce is very smooth. Whisk in vanilla and salt to taste Allow the sauce to cool in the pan or, if needed, pour it off into another container. Sauce may be reheated if needed warm.

  1. The bread must be bread of character not a mushy French bread rather bread made from hard winter wheat giving it some chew and character - typical of artisanal European style flour.

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