The concept of a bread pudding never really floated my boat, if you get my drift. It just sounded so blah-ish. That is, until a couple of years ago when I saw Ina Garten make a bread pudding with croissants on one of her televsion cooking shows. I stored that concept in the back of my mind and when I was recently doing all those tarts, I realized that I had her recipe for that pudding in one of her Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. So while the inspiration was definitely from Ms. Garten, I think I have sufficiently altered the ingredients to tack on the “a la Marketman.”
If the inspiration was from Ms. Garten, the impetus was 1.25 huge (about 5 medium sized ensaimadas equivalent) leftover Medina ensaimadas (the best commercial ensaimadas I have tasted in Manila) that had gotten shoved towards the back of our refrigerator and were now 5 days old and slightly stale but still very edible. I decided to attempt an Ensaimada bread pudding and here are the results…
To make, slice the slightly hard (better to use 2-3 day old ensaimadas) ensaimadas in half as you would a hamburger bun. Cut into smaller pieces if using huge ensaimadas as I did. Place all the bottom pieces on the bottom of an oven proof baking dish, adjust size to the amount of bread/ensaimada that you have. For the dish in the photo above, I rummaged through the fridge and concocted this custard mixture… put about 1 cup of cream (or use 1.5 cups of whipping cream) and 2 cups of whole milk in a bowl with 2/3 cup sugar and two medium sized eggs and 2 teaspoons of good vanilla and whisk this all up to combine well. Sprinkle small chopped pieces of dried mango (I used golden raisins which worked well, but would have done mango if we had it) over the bottom halves of ensaimada, then top with the upper half slices of ensaimada and press down firmly to flatten and “trap” the dried mango bits or raisins. Then carefully pour the custard mixture over the ensaimada until they are practically submerged.
Let this stand for about 10 minutes so that the bread can absorb the cream/milk/egg mixture. Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 350 F, and put the prepared dish into a larger pan with about an inch of hot water and cover this all with some foil and put into the oven. Make sure the foil isn’t touching the tops of the ensaimada. Cook this for roughly 30 minutes (longer if you made a bigger pudding) and remove the foil and cook for another 20-30 minutes until it is puffed up, the liquid has been absorbed and the tops are just lightly browned.
Let this cool for say 10-15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar for arte and a touch of added sweetness. You could add some heavy cream to be served on the side if you have a cholesterol death wish. This is the first and only time I have ever made a bread pudding, and I can tell you, this was an absolute slam dunk home run experiment! The richness of the underlying ensaimada with more cream, milk and eggs and sugar made for a pillowy, moist and tasty pudding, with bits of golden raisins (or mango) and it was just wonderful! Next time I will have to buy a lot more ensaimadas on purpose so that I have enough left over to make this pudding again! This would make a perfect dessert to a slightly stylized and gentrified Pinoy meal. Do not attempt this with most airheaded commercial ensaimadas; you will need substantial versions or leftovers from home made ones using this recipe I posted last year… And you do have to estimate the amount of liquid you will need, considering that the ensaimada you use will sop up a lot of liquid. You don’t want the finished product to be too dry, and you don’t want it swimming in cream either. But this particular attempt was definitely a keeper! Excellent.