Whenever I talk to my mum about Salad Club she does one of two things: the first is to arch her eyebrow, smirk a little and close the conversation fairly promptly. The second is similar, but verbal: when I flatter something culinary of hers, she’ll casually state that she hasn’t got a recipe for it, that she – ‘shrug’, ‘bouff’ – made it up. She’s not even French, but there’s something wildly, irritatingly Gallic about it as if to say, ‘daughter, you learned it here first.’ Which, in some senses, is true, others definitely not.
So when I offered to take over the kitchen at Christmas in order to give her a break, she seemed to accept keenly. As the day approached, however, I guess a sense of needing to be involved (read ‘competitive’) snuck up on her and she calmly stated that she’d be making a panettone bread and butter pudding for which, of course, there wasn’t a recipe. While I peeled, boiled and creamed the parsnips and then gutted, buttered and roasted 5 pheasants, she just pulled apart some panettone shreds and whisked up a custard in some ramekins. Total job? About 10 minutes. I have to hand it to her – this is the simplest, most fuss-free bread n butta pudding I’ve ever seen, and the easiest way to get rid of that stale panettone you’ve doubtless still got hanging around in the back of the cupboard. What’s more, it’s flexible – you could try it with dried fruit, chocolate, spices, or replacing with hot cross buns.
Serves 4 (you’ll need 4 ramekins)
Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Tear your panettone into thick slices, then rip roughly into cubes. Squash the cubes into the bottom of each ramekin and spread a little butter on top. Gently beat 3 cups of double cream, 2 egg yolks, 2 teaspoons of vanilla sugar and the seeds from one vanilla pod together in a bowl and pour into a non stick saucepan. Heat gently over the lowest heat for about 15 minutes until the custard has thickened enough to cover the back of a wooden spoon. Pour an even amount of the custard into each ramekin, put the little puds on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling on top. Resist the temptation to eat them straight away (I was impatient – burning my tongue twice) and allow the ramekins to cool for 5 minutes. If you’re looking for a coronary bypass, serve with double cream and a glass or two of pudding wine. Mum’s the word.