The second entry in the Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest comes from Aledys Ver of Zwolle, Netherlands. Aledys originally hails from Córdoba, Argentina, and you can read all about her life on her blog From Argentina to the Netherlands, for Love!
First, a note from Aledys about this recipe:
"I thought that I would send you the recipe for budín de pan, a dessert that for me not only says 'Argentina' but also, 'Aída', my granny, who used to make this in the campo (countryside) for us kids when we were visiting during our holidays.
"This version of budín de pan is to be made in the oven, but you can also make it over an open fire, like my own grandma used to!"
A great way to use up leftover, stale bread, many countries boast a version of the economical yet tasty dessert, bread pudding. Argentine budín de pan differs from American bread pudding mostly in terms of texture. The Argentine version features a smooth texture, rather than large chunks of bread, since the bread cubes are completely broken down when mixed with the custard. In addition, budín de pan usually sports a topping of caramel, just like flan.
Aledys' Argentine-style bread pudding has a moist, creamy texture rich with the flavors of raisins, vanilla and lemon zest. The caramel sauce that gets drizzled on tableside makes this dessert truly decadent, but if you're in a hurry, the pudding shines on its own. I also whipped up a bit of sweetened cream to serve with the budín de pan (I'd already made a disaster of the kitchen – what was one more bowl?). I can honestly say that that this version has turned me into a bread pudding convert!
Aledys normally uses a lovely pudding mold with fluted sides [click here for a photo of her budín], but I used a bundt pan. Next time, I will probably double the recipe because the bundt pan holds a much larger volume than the pudding mold. Any oven-proof baking pan or dish will work for this recipe, but the baking time may vary depending on the pan you select.
The original recipe left a lot up to the cook's imagination, as Argentine recipes are wont to do, so I put a number of notes in the recipe to clarify amounts and steps.
Budín de Pan al Caramelo | Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Así Cocinan Los Argentinos/How Argentina Cooks
For caramel coating:
1 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. water
dash of fresh lemon juice
For bread pudding:
3 tightly-packed c. stale white bread, crusts removed, cubed [I used 12 slices of bread.]
2 c. boiling milk
3 Tbsp. sugar
pinch of salt
grated lemon zest or vanilla extract or both [I used the zest of 1 small lemon and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.]
seedless raisins to taste [I used 1/2 c.]
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Caramelize the sugar according to the instructions given here. As soon as the sugar caramelizes, pour it into your baking mold and swirl the caramel around to coat the bottom and sides of the mold. Set the mold aside to cool and allow the caramel to harden. [Note: the sugar can also be caramelized directly inside the baking mold, but I had more success making it in a separate saucepan.]
Preheat the oven to 325º/350ºF [depending on your choice of baking method].
Place the cubed bread in a large bowl. Pour the boiling milk over the bread, making sure the bread is completely soaked. Mash the bread with a fork to create a smooth, uniform paste. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs lightly (you don't want the eggs to get foamy) with the sugar and a pinch of salt, and combine with the bread and milk mixture.
Add the raisins, grated lemon zest and/or vanilla extract, and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the caramel-coated baking mold.
Bake in the oven at a medium-low temperature (~325ºF) for about an hour or bake in a bain marie (water bath), covered with aluminum foil, in a moderate oven (~350ºF) for about 45 minutes. [I chose the water bath method.]
You can check if the pudding is cooked through by inserting a knife in the middle. If it comes out clean, it's done. The pudding should also be springy to the touch, and it will have pulled away from the sides of the mold a bit.
Remove from the oven, and cool the mold on a wire rack. Once the pudding is completely cooled, run a knife around the edge of the mold to loosen it. Unmold the bread pudding onto a serving platter. Do not attempt to unmold the pudding while still warm or it will fall apart. Serve at room temperature with caramel sauce [recipe below].
Salsa Caramelo | Caramel Sauce
Note from Aledys:
"Be careful when handling the caramel, since it dries out very fast and it is difficult to remove. Do not attempt to taste it while you are preparing it – yes, I did ( I was about 12 years old, I must say) and it was very painful."
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. boiling water
simple syrup made with 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. sugar
a few drops of vanilla extract [optional – I added it]
1 Tbsp. butter [optional – I added it]
1 Tbsp. cornstarch [optional – I added it]
Caramelize the sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When quite dark, carefully add the boiling water, stirring so that the caramel dissolves in the water. Add the syrup, made apart previously or add the sugar and water and boil until thickened. At this point, add the vanilla extract if desired. If you want a smoother, shinier sauce with more body, whisk in the butter and cornstarch. Be sure to boil the sauce for a minute after adding the cornstarch to get rid of the raw cornstarch taste. Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool. Pour the caramel sauce into a sauce boat to serve at the table.
Previous Posts about the Recipe Contest:
Entry #1: Tarta de Cebolla y Queso | Onion and Cheese Quickbread
Finalists for Argentine Recipe Contest
Argentine Recipe Contest