A good old fashioned British tea-time treat from Bread Ahead
“It’s a great British treat. The sort of thing a cabbie will have on his tea break,” says Matt Jones of Bread Ahead—good, old fashioned black cabs, manned by men and women with the knowledge to guide them in the direction of such great treats, and the appetite, fuelled by London’s cut and thrust, to devour them.
He’s talking bread pudding; not to be confused with bread and butter pudding which, Matt says, is a common misconception: “The two are very different things.” The latter’s a dessert, made with a creamy egg custard; bread pudding contains old bread, currants and peel, suet or butter and some egg, “to bind it,” says Matt. “It’s a tea time thing. And there’s no cream.”
It’s baked twice, the second time with demarara sugar sprinkled on top to create a sweet, almost biscuity crunch, akin to boots on new frost; beneath it, the soft, dark pudding, squidgy with cooked fruits and dense with saturated bread, is like the spring-ready earth, fertile and rich with old leaves and new growth.
Lease of life
“We never throw our old bread out,” says Matt. “Sourdough which isn’t sold goes into pudding, where it has a new lease of life.” Though its origins are uncertain, the prevalence—and popularity—of bread based puddings around the world suggest it was born out of an obvious need to make bread go further. In an age where the amount of food wasted each day has reached criminal levels, such recipes should be feted and feasted upon as much as possible.
“Bread pudding,” runs a quote we heard somewhere from someone, “is good bread’s second chance at greatness.” It’s spot on, says Matt—and you can’t get better bread than Bread Ahead. Make like a cabby and eat it as is, with a hot cuppa, or serve hot with caramel sauce and uber helpings of ice cream.