Panettone bread and butter pudding is the perfect way to make use of leftover panettone in an easy, comforting and delicious dessert. With a crisp, sweet crust and meltingly soft inside, it's a great twist on a classic.
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Panettone is a gently sweet bread that I do really enjoy, but a whole full-sized loaf tends to be a lot bigger than I can get through easily. Even with a bit of help, they are pretty big.
I imagine I am not alone on that one, so I figured leftover ideas are likely to be useful beyond our household. Thankfully, this is a great way to use some up, and in fact so tasty you might want to buy an extra loaf to make it.
Origins of bread and butter pudding
Bread and butter pudding is a traditional British dessert that has apparently been traced back to the 11th or 12th century. It evolved as a way to use up leftover stale bread, as a number of dishes have around the world.
You might first think of panzanella, the famous Italian bread and tomato salad, but there's also soups like Spanish garlic soup. Then there are dishes that incorporate leftover pita like fattoush and chickpea fatteh. Other sweet dishes include the Egyptian umm Ali (though Western adaptations, like mine, tend to start with puff pastry).
Differences between bread pudding and bread and butter pudding
Bread pudding and bread and butter pudding can mean different things, depending where you are. Let me try to explain the differences. In the US, you will only really see the term bread pudding, which is a dessert particularly found in the South of the US - it's a dish New Orleans is famous for.
American bread pudding is relatively similar to the British bread and butter pudding, which is originates from, though it has a couple differences. Both use pieces of bread and then you pour over a milk, cream and egg-based custard before baking.
However, the American version typically uses chunks of bread and is often sweeter. You might also serve it with a sauce like vanilla or bourbon cream sauce, or maybe ice cream and whipped cream.
The British version more typically uses slices of bread, rather than chunks, and you butter the bread (hence the "bread and butter") before you place the slices in the baking dish. You often serve it just as it is, or maybe with custard.
You will also find similar dishes in other parts of the world made with different breads and toppings, such as with guava jam in Cuba or maple syrup in Canada. The Egyptian umm Ali is similar but without eggs and with nuts (though Western adaptations, like mine, tend to start with puff pastry). It's also very similar to what some call a French toast casserole.
But just for completeness sake, it's worth mentioning that British bread pudding is different again. I know, just to be confusing. It is believed to be the older dish, and likely the one that at least bread and butter pudding evolved from. It is more in the style of other British puddings where the result is firmer and sliceable.
You make it by soaking leftover bread then mix the damp crumbs with other ingredients, like dried fruit and spices, before spreading in a dish and baking. The result is a bit more like a cake.
Steps to make panettone bread and butter pudding
Now that we have all the confusing names out the way, back to this tasty treat. Which you could also call panettone bread pudding, arguably. It comes together in just a few simple stages:
- Warm the milk, cream and vanilla without boiling.
- Butter slices of panettone with softened butter then place in a buttered baking dish, slightly overlapping.
- Whisk butter and eggs until glossy, then add the lemon zest.
- Add the warm milk mixture to the egg, a little at a time at first. This tempers the eggs so you incorporate the warm milk to make a custard rather than cook the eggs.
- Sprinkle demerara sugar over the top - this helps give a lovely sweet crisp top.
- Bake until gently golden on top. You want the top slightly crisp but the inside set but still soft.
That's really all there is to it. I suggest using relatively thin slices of panettone so the custard mixture can easily soak in. It is better with at least day-old panettone rather than fresh as it is that bit drier. This makes it both easier to work with and it absorbs better.
Can you prepare this ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the dish ahead and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. This will allow the bread to soak up the custard a little more, which can be good as it ensures it is evenly soaked. On the other hand, it can mean the top is a little less crisp, though it's a small difference. Plus the sugar helps give a crisp top, too.
You can also freeze the prepared, uncooked pudding for up to three months. Just make sure you have a lid for the dish or wrap it well so that the liquid doesn't escape all over your freezer. Then, defrost overnight before baking as usual.
If you do prepare ahead, I recommend you don't add the demerara sugar until just before baking. If added earlier, it may well dissolve so you lose the crispness which really adds to the end texture.
Panettone bread and butter pudding is not only a delicious way to use up leftover panettone, it's a wonderfully tasty and comforting dessert in itself. It's easy to make, can be prepared ahead and is so easy to enjoy, too. So make sure you do.
Try these other comforting desserts:
- Lemon pudding cake (aka lemon delicious, where the mixture separates into a cake-like top and sauce underneath)
- Arroz con leche (Spanish rice pudding, with a touch of cinnamon and orange)
- Plum crumble (a tasty mix of soft fruit, warm spices and a sweet crumble topping)
- Plus get more dessert recipes in the archives.
Panettone bread and butter pudding
- 8 oz panettone 225g
- 1 cup milk 240ml
- ¾ cup heavy cream 180ml double cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- ½ lemon zest ie zest from ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoon butter, softened 28g, approx - you may want slightly more
- 1 tablespoon demerara sugar (or other coarse sugar)
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Lightly butter a baking dish around 10in x 7in (25cm x 18cm).
- Cut the panettone into slices, around ½in/1.2cm thick. If slices are large, vut then into slightly smaller pieces to be able to fit in the dish more easily.
- Place the milk, cream and vanilla paste in a saucepan and warm over a medium low heat, stirring now and then, so that it becomes warm but does not boil (it should become close but you don't want it boiling).
- Place the sugar and eggs in a bowl and whisk them together so that the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes slightly paler and glossy. Mix lemon zest into the mixture then set aside.
- Butter the slices of panettone (I generally just do one side but you can do both if you like) then layer in the baking dish, with the slices slightly overlapping each other so that they fill the dish.
- Once the milk mixture is warm, add a little to the egg mixture, while whisking quickly, to temper the eggs. Once whisked in, add a little more of the milk mixture, whisk in, then keep adding and whisking until it is all incorporated.
- Pour the egg-milk mixture over the panettone pieces, being sure to pour over each piece so that each absorbs some of the liquid.
- Sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the top then bake until the top is gently golden and slightly crisp, around 30 - 35 minutes. Best enjoyed warm.
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