chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding

chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table

I couldn't be happier, you guys! I found out last night that I'm nominated in the Best Photo based Food Blog category at the International Association of Culinary Professionals for the 2016 awards that are to be held this April in Los Angeles! The past four years have been a blessing. They've been an amazing journey filled with fun and growing pains. From starting this blog to talking about food and through it, my experiences as an immigrant, to learning about photography but also just learning more about myself. I'm thankful for this blog and grateful, that you've been a part of my journey sharing the ups and downs along the way. Thank you!

What better way to celebrate this moment than with a childhood favorite, bread pudding! It took me a while to fathom that bread puddings are usually baked in the United States since my mother always steamed them whenever she made them at home and this is one dish she made often. I love both versions for different reasons. The American version, has a delicious crispy crust while the steamed version is soft and comforting. No matter what you look at it, bread puddings are one of the tastiest ways to use up leftover bread. I think it's the simplicity that makes it so appealing, a few ingredients with endless possibilities. Mom always uses vanilla extract and raisins and slices of milk bread. Bread pudding is breakfast converted to dessert and it's all about comfort.

This version is infused with dried chamomile flowers and long black pepper (which look like little pine cones). There's a creamy sauce that's infused with the spices and a sneaky helping of raisins in that give a burst of sweetness in each and every bite. This is a very simple recipe and you could modify and bake it if you wanted to. I use the bundt pan to steam the pudding and give it a more cake like shape which makes it a little fancier but again it's all up to you. Make it the way you want to and make sure to enjoy it!

chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table

A couple of kitchen notes that you might find useful when preparing this pudding;

  • My recipe is loosely adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe in the New York Times. His recipe is baked while this is steamed. 
  • If you can't find long black pepper, you can easily sub 1/4 teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper for the pudding and sauce, each. 
  • I use this bundt cake pan which is also a great pudding basin and you can order the cooling rack and steamer rack to go with it. I just use the cooling rack as the steamer rack all the time and it works perfectly. Another option is to use an English pudding basin like one of those pretty Mason Cash bowls but this bundt pan and it's lid remove all the extra work from making a good seal to prevent water from entering the pan. 
  • I don't use too much sugar in this recipe, as challah is pretty sweet to begin with and too much sugar masks the flavor of the chamomile and black pepper.
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table
chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding | A Brown Table

chamomile and long black pepper steamed bread pudding

yields: 6 to 8 servings

ingredients

for the bread pudding

2 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter + extra for greasing the pan

1/4 cup dried chamomile flowers

4 long black peppercorns, coarsely crushed

4 tablespoons sugar

6 cups challah bread cut into 2 inch cubes (an entire challah loaf)

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons raisins or sultanas

for the sauce

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers

2 long black peppercorns, coarsely crushed

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons cornstarch

for the bread pudding

1. Place the milk, butter, chamomile, peppercorns and sugar in a thick bottomed medium-sized saucepan. Heat on medium-low heat stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes until the butter melts, then increase heat to medium-high and bring the contents to boil stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled strain the liquid and discard the solids using a fine mesh sieve.

2. While the milk is cooling, grease a 2 quart bundt pan with a little butter.  Then place a layer of challah cubes and sprinkle a tablespoon of the raisins. Add another layer of bread and sprinkle the raisins. Repeat until you reach the top. 

3. Lightly whisk the eggs into the cooled and strained milk mixture. Pour this liquid over the bread in the bundt pan. Cover the bundt pan with its lid and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Place a plate or a round cooling rack into a large stockpot,  place the sealed bundt pan on top of the plate/rack. Pour enough tap water (at room temperature) to about 1 inch less than the height of the bundt pan. Place a heavy weight such as a bowl or plate over the bundt pan, cover the stockpot with a lid and heat the stockpot on medium-high heat until the water begins to boil. Continue to boil for another 1 minute and remove from stove. Allow the bundt pan to stay in the stockpot for another 5 minutes before removing from the stockpot. Remove the lid and run a butterknife between the edges of the pan and the pudding. Invert the bundt pan over a serving plate and allow to sit for 10 minutes to release. (If it doesn't release using the flat end of the butter knife to loosen the sides). 

To prepare the sauce

4. Place the milk, chamomile, peppercorns, and sugar in a medium-sized thick bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium-high, stirring occasionally until the milk just starts to boil. In the meantime, make a slurry of the water and cornstarch in a small mixing bowl. Vigorously whisk the cornstarch slurry into boiling milk and continue to cook until it thickens. Remove the saucepan from the stove and strain the solids and discard the solids using a fine mesh sieve. Pour about 1/2 cup of this warm sauce over the pudding just before serving with a little extra on the side. 

cranberry maple syrup pudding

cranberry maple syrup pudding | A Brown Table

When Le Creuset asked me to create a sweet thanksgiving side this year with their Heritage bakeware collection, I decided to stray away from pies and dive into the realm of baked puddings. I grew up eating a lot of steamed and baked puddings and since Thanksgiving dinner is all about traditions and comfort eating, I figured I'd bake a pudding this year! 

This sweet cranberry and maple syrup pudding can be made with fresh or frozen cranberries (so you can make it any time of the year) which burst when baked to release the tart and red juice into the batter (I don't recommend using dried cranberries as it doesn't cook and taste as good as it does with the whole fruit). Now maple syrup is delicious by itself but in this sweet side when baked it starts to caramelize with the berries and creates a deep dark brown color that smells heavenly. This cranberry pudding is best served warm and has a cake like texture yet buttery and soft with a sweet maple caramelized crust. 

You can get the cranberry and maple syrup pudding recipe here. I'll be busy moving and unpacking for the next few days so have a wonderful Thanksgiving folks and stay warm!

cranberry maple syrup pudding | A Brown Table

Note: This post was sponsored by Le Creuset but all opinions stated are my own.

polenta coconut almond baked pudding with burnt sugar blood orange sauce

polenta coconut almond milk baked pudding with burnt sugar blood orange sauce | A Brown Table

Somewhere between my meyer lemon tree and a stack of sweet potato vines, sits my Moro blood orange tree. Unlike the lemon tree, it hasn't produced any flowers this season but there are tiny little leaf buds between each and every portion of the stems of this little tree. So until the day arrives that this plant will hopefully produce some fruit, I make do with ransacking the stores and markets in the neighborhood for the blood oranges. And some of those blood oranges went into making this sauce to be drizzled over this pudding.

Ahh, how I love puddings! They are convenient and comforting yet can be made fancy to suit one's needs. I like to think there's something sweet waiting for me in the refrigerator when I come home after work, so every now and then I'll make up a batch of puddings that will satisfy my sweet cravings. This pudding is made with sweet polenta and the creamy delicious flavors of coconut and almond milk and there's also a lightly burned caramelized blood orange sauce that goes over the pudding. Happy flavors and tasty puddings.

By the way this Califia coconut almond milk combination is rather delicious!


polenta coconut almond milk baked pudding with burnt sugar blood orange sauce | A Brown Table
polenta coconut almond milk baked pudding with burnt sugar blood orange sauce | A Brown Tablepolenta coconut almond milk baked pudding with burnt sugar blood orange sauce | A Brown Table
polenta coconut almond milk baked pudding with burnt sugar blood orange sauce | A Brown Table

Here are some tips that you might find useful when preparing these puddings,

  • You can skip blood oranges and use regular oranges to prepare the sauce. Remember to adjust the sweetness of the sauce accordingly.
  • The puddings will rise during baking and then sink a little after they are chilled. I trim the crust off the exposed end of the pudding to give the dessert a smooth finish. 
  • I gently bake the pudding for about 2 hours in the oven at a lower temperature so it doesn't burn but helps to get rid of most of the liquid.
  • You can adjust the sweetness of the dessert to your liking by changing the amount of sweetener added. 
  • Garnish as needed with candied orange chips if desired
polenta coconut almond milk baked pudding with burnt sugar blood orange sauce | A Brown Table

burnt sugar blood orange sauce

yields: approximately 1 cup

ingredients

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup blood orange juice, fresh and strained 

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

  1. Place the brown sugar in a small thick bottomed saucepan and heat on a medium-high flame for about 3 minutes until the sugar just begins to darken and caramelize (watch the sugar carefully to avoid it from burning). As soon as the sugar begins to caramelize, remove the saucepan from the stove and carefully stir in the orange juice. Return to stove and stir until the caramelized sugar has completely dissolved. 
  2. While the sauce is cooking, stir the cornstarch and water to form a slurry in a small bowl. Stir this mixture into the sauce and quickly whisk. Continue to cook with constant stirring, the mixture will begin to thicken and begin to boil. Continue to stir constantly and cook for one additional minute. Remove the saucepan from stove and pass the sauce through a sieve to remove any clumps. Transfer the sauce to a container and refrigerate until completely chilled. 

polenta coconut almond milk baked puddings 

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1 cup (6 ounces) polenta 

1 tablespoon toasted unsweetened shredded coconut 

2 tablespoons sugar

1  1/2 tablespoons cornstarch 

1 tablespoon water

a little coconut oil for greasing

  1. Add all the ingredients from the polenta to the sugar in a large thick bottomed saucepan. Bring the contents of the pan to a boil on medium high heat and then reduce the heat to a medium-low. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water to form a slurry and fold this slurry into the polenta. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook and stir the the polenta until there is little to no visible liquid left, this should take about 8-10 minutes. The mixture should resemble a thick porridge like consistency. Remove from stove.
  2. Grease 4 X 4 ounce heatproof glass canning jars with a little coconut oil. Using a ladle fill the jars up and using a spoon flatten the mixture to release any trapped air bubbles. Bake the jars for 2 hours at 250F on a baking sheet on the middle rack of a preheated oven. Rotate the tray halfway through the baking process. Remove the hot jars and allow to cool to room temperature. Wrap the mouth of each jar with cling film and refrigerate until chilled for at least 3-4 hours. The puddings will shrink a little in the refrigerator.
  3. To release the puddings, run the blunt edge of a knife between the jar and the pudding. Tap the jar over a plate to release the pudding. Trim off the crusty end of the pudding using a sharp serrated knife and place the pudding in a serving plate. Garnish the pudding with a candied orange slice and drizzle generously with the burnt sugar blood orange sauce. Prepare the remaining three puddings similarly.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia and all opinions stated here are purely my own.