We love a sweet bread and butter pudding, and the technique also lends itself well to savoury recipes. This version is all cheesy goodness, and makes for a perfect brunch dish - especially topped with leg ham and lightly pickled fennel to cut through the richness. A poached egg would make a welcome addition. Any leftovers are delicious pan-fried in a little butter.
- 50 gm butter, coarsely chopped, plus extra for greasing
- 2 leeks, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp finely chopped thyme
- 300 gm crème fraîche or sour cream
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 200 ml pouring cream
- 140 gm coarsely grated vintage cheddar
- 2 baby fennel bulbs, fronds reserved
- 60 ml white wine vinegar (¼ cup)
- ½ tsp caster sugar
- Finely grated rind and juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- To serve: thickly sliced leg ham
- 120 ml milk, lukewarm
- 10 gm caster sugar
- 5 gm dried yeast (1¾ tsp)
- 450 gm plain flour (3 cups)
- 100 gm butter, softened
- 80 gm crème fraîche
- 80 gm coarsely grated vintage cheddar
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1For cheddar brioche, stir milk, sugar and yeast in a bowl to combine and stand in a warm place until foaming (4-5 minutes). Process flour, butter, crème fraîche, cheddar and 2 tsp sea salt in a food processor to combine. Add yeast mixture and eggs, process to combine, then stand at room temperature, still in the food processor and with the lid on, until the dough doubles in size (45 minutes to 1 hour). Pulse dough in the food processor to knock it back, turn onto a floured surface and roll with your hands to form a 20cm-long cylinder. Place in a 10cm-deep, 8.5cm x 22cm loaf tin buttered and lined with baking paper, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until risen by half (40-45 minutes). Preheat oven to 180C and bake until a skewer withdraws clean and bread is golden (45 minutes to 1 hour), cool slightly in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- 2Cut brioche into rough 2.5cm cubes, spread on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake, shaking occasionally, until golden and toasted (8-10 minutes).
- 3Meanwhile, heat butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat until foaming, then add leek and garlic and stir occasionally until very tender (6-8 minutes). Add thyme, stir occasionally until fragrant, season to taste and set aside to cool.
- 4Reduce oven to 150C. Whisk crème fraîche, eggs, yolks and mustard in a bowl until smooth, whisk in cream, season to taste and set aside.
- 5Wipe out the loaf tin the brioche was baked in, butter and line it with fresh baking paper. Scatter 50gm cheddar in the base, top with half the leek mixture then half the brioche cubes. Repeat layering, then pour egg mixture over and press to submerge brioche. Stand to soak (30 minutes; some brioche cubes will rise to the surface – this is okay, because they’ll become crunchy when baked). Scatter with remaining cheddar and bake until golden and a skewer withdraws clean (1-1¼ hours). Set aside to cool in tin (15 minutes).
- 6Meanwhile, thinly shave fennel on a mandolin and combine with fennel fronds, vinegar, sugar, lemon rind and juice in a bowl, season to taste and stand to lightly pickle (15-20 minutes). Add oil, stir to combine and set aside.
- 7Thickly slice bread and butter pudding and serve warm topped with ham and pickled fennel.
Drink Suggestion: Pints of English bitter. Drink suggestion by Max Allen