>> Tuesday, February 3
After making something Swiss to fill my cultural craving bracket last week, I forgot to plan for the fact that everyone I know is doing the usual winter hibernation routine still. Hence, no one has been around to help me eat it! Yesterday, noticing that it was looking less moist than I like, a food I haven’t had for years dawned on me: bread pudding.
In fact, I haven’t had it since middle school, when Anne, my most beloved school cook served it up with brunch one day. I was intrigued, but not really excited. How good could mushy bread taste? Mind you, I went to a tiny charter school and the food was all fresh-cooked each day by Anne and the students with as many local, organic products as possible, so this was no ordinary school-bread-pudding affair! Still, I was skeptical, and have been ever since. Since 8th grade, a lot of my opinions about food have changed. One of them is that I now think recycling food is about the coolest thing you can do, for the world, the creative cook in you, and your friends and family. Another is that if you enjoy something in one form, there's always room for innovation.
So, I began surfing for recipes and stumbled on this one by Chris at Eat Air, which I used for the inspiration to make a nice creamy base with silken tofu. Because the original cake I made was the Tender Elstar Apple Cake, I needed something to compliment the cinnamon-apple flavor, yet change and enhance it so no one would know it was the same thing they'd eaten yesterday. I went for darkening and saturating the spicy-sweet nature of my corn-cake by adding molasses, gingerbread spices, more apples, and vanilla. The result was…Well, I can’t put up a picture to show you, because we ate the whole thing in about 24 hours flat and there was never a moment for a picture without reaching hands involved. Great. The word "great" comes to mind.
Forget everything gourmet has ever taught you-this bread-pudding is as luxurious as the finest French mousse.
Gingerbread Pudding (The Rebaked Cake)
- About ¾ of a Tender Elstar Apple Cake (or 1 loaf bread*)
- 2 juicy apples, washed and chopped into chunks
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup raw sugar
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 2/3 cup silken tofu
- 2 cups soy kefir (or soy milk, or soy milk and some yogurt)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tsp Lebküchengewurze, if available. If not, the following:
- 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground cloves, ¼ tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground anis, ½ tsp ground stern-anis, 1 tsp fresh grated ginger(or some creative combination of the above)
- ½ finely chopped fresh vanilla bean (optional, but fabulous)
- Cut the cake or bread into coarse chunks and dump in a large mixing bowl
- In a blender or with a hand-mixer, whip the silken tofu until smooth
- Add the kefir/milk/yogurt and combine until smooth
- Stir in vanilla extract and bean, sugar, molasses, and spices, then pour the mixture over the bread and fold together. You should have a nice, moist batter, but not too runny to set while baking.
- Fold in raisins and apples, pour into a greased, floured casserole dish and bake at 175 C (350 F) for about 30-35 minutes**.
*If you use bread, chop up some activated almonds, pecans, or walnuts and add them, since the crunchy nut pieces from the cake really add to the texture!
**It is finished when it is still slightly gelled on top, not totally set. When it cools it will be just firm enough to resist your spoon, which is how I prefer it. It’s still sliceable and cake-like, but spongy and springy.