‘Call Me Peter Panettone…’
It’s Christmas time. Look on the top of your mother’s fridge. Or at the back of her cupboard. Or in the depths of her drawer of gifts given to her by people that she will then give to somebody else. I can almost guarantee you that you will find a cardboard box containing one of Christmases guarantees: the unopened box of Panettone.
I feel sorry for Panettone. Shaped like some form of weird, smooth octagon, the sweet fruit bread is given every Christmas and/or New Year as a generous giving of thanks and yet nobody in the UK has a real appreciation for it. Nor do they really care about it. Originally from Milan, a Panettone is a fluffy fruit cake with an almost candy-floss texture to the bread that is so soft and sweet it almost melts in your mouth. I happen to absolutely love a Panettone but never particularly want to buy a whole loaf as I always end up being the only one who eats it. But not this year.
I came back to the Valleys to visit my mum in the lead up to Christmas to help her out with what to buy for the festive season. Amongst the usual meats, alcohol, cheeses, snacks, alcohol, chocolate, alcohol and breads – there it was. Luring at me in big cardboard box from the supermarket aisle with a big yellow ribbon hanging from it’s head. The box of Panettone.
‘Let’s get one this year’, I said to her. She scoffed and told me nobody buys Panettone because it always ends up being wasted. It was like that moment in Kill Bill when the lights dim, the screen goes red and Uma Thurman’s eyes narrow. Nobody challenges me to wasting food and gets away with it. I snatched the box by it’s yellow ribbon, threw it in the trolley and told her that I would show her. I would show them all.
Now giving some a plate of the sliced Panettone bread with a little butter and force feeding into their mouths bird-style was not an option. Its Christmas after all and only a small amount of sober brutality is really necessary. So I decided to do a little trickery. What’s Christmas without a little bit of cloak and dagger. I used the Panettone in place of usual stale bread in a bread and butter pudding and honestly, the crowd went wild. My mother, who is not the biggest pudding lover, has so far had two slices in one day. I consider this a success.
I have also been told that this is a ‘favourite’ pudding that I have made, so I am happy with that. The alcohol spiked lazy ‘custard’ is perfect for this time of year when you’re looking for something a little more serious. Panettone Bread & Butter pudding is not exactly a ground breaking discovery but I do know that some kind of boozy fruit bread is essential this time of year and if you’re not up for ‘feeding’ a pudding that you started some time in 1996 to eat this year, then this could provide some much necessary relief.
If this bake doesn’t particular tickle your Christmas pickle, I also recommend my Brandy Banana & Date Bread from my column is this month’s Buzz Magazine. Both equally lazy approaches to Christmas baking and both equally as fruit and alcohol flecked.
Also excuse the break away from my usual aesthetic. I am currently staying with my family for Christmas (dog and all) and do not have my usual apartment lighting and Kitchen countertop. But a pan of roast bread and dried fruit is magnificent in any circumstance, don’t you think?
Grab yourself a big loaf of Panettone (there’s usually two sizes, the bigger one is better for this) and remove from the pack. Slice it into a fairly thick slices and butter them generously. Grab yourself a fairly deep medium sized roasting tin and butter the base and sides so that your pudding doesn’t stick.
Now start ripping your slices of Panettone into small chunks the size of say half your palm. Now start shoving this into your roasting dish buttered side up. Do this slide by slice, piece by piece until the whole base is covered and then start stuffing the pieces into any gaps. It doesn’t matter if you’re overlapping, so long as the whole bottom base of the tin is covered first. Where you’ve been slicing your bread you should have a nice loose pile of dried fruit and Panettone crumbs. Just scrape this into the pan. Wasteful, I am not.
Now in a jug, pour in a cup of milk followed by a cup of double cream and then to this crack in 3 eggs. Now separate one last egg and add the yolk to the mixture. To this eggy creamy mixture pour in a generous splash of rum (oh any old rum will do) as well as a good throw of soft brown sugar. Give this a nice beat with a whisk so that all the eggs are broken up. Now slowly pour this over the pan of Panettone, allowing the lazy custard to seep into the bread.
Once the Panettone is all covered with the custard mixture, leave it to one side for about 15 minutes so that the bread can further soak up the mix. Here I recommend pre heating your oven to 180C which will take about 10-15 minutes. Once this is done, evenly scatter a final fistful of crunchy soft brown sugar over the top of the bread pudding to crisp up before sliding in the oven for about 30-35 minutes. Done. Serve with a lovely lash of double cream – or brandy cream if you have it.
This genuinely has gone down so well with my family this year. Keep this refrigerated when not in use and heat up in the microwave – my only heed of warning that after a 30 second blast in the microwave it does go piping hot so do watch your mouth. I have given myself 3rd degree burns from being too greedy this year. It was worth it.
But yes, I’m quite pleased with myself that I’ve managed to make my mother eat her words this year. I saved Panettone for my family and I am quite smug about it. In the spirit of Christmas, I think I’ll even anoint myself Peter Panettone.
Too much? Oh it’s Christmas, who cares?