Pear and Panettone Pudding

So, more on my Christmas in July dinner. Obviously I’m still talking about dessert. At some point I may mention the main course. Then again, maybe not. This dessert has it all going on. I might make just this in the future. Who needs real food anyway?

So, this is obviously an adaption from bread and butter pudding, that stalwart of British dining. I won’t lie, bread and butter pudding is not up there on my hit list of desserts. It’s a dessert that was born out of rations and need in post-war Britain and I really don’t envy those who had to eat this at the time. (Although many of my British friends rave about this, I remain skeptical. Like I am about rhubarb. And summer pudding. I mean honestly, how much bread do you need to eat for dessert people? Seriously.) I digress. This is the Italian version of the dessert. I’ve made a French version too, using day old croissants and some cinnamon sugar. It worked wonderfully so I had high hopes for this dessert.

Now, I won’t lie, I didn’t come up with this all by my ownsome. I owe credit to Annie Bell, this comes from her Gorgeous Christmas book. (If you’re obsessed with Christmas only half as much as me, I’d suggest you buy this book.) It looks spectacular, all glossy and caramel coloured and works wonderfully with my ice cream so a winner all round. I did make some changes to the recipe (temptation is too much) and so I poached the pears before adding them to the dish. She also only makes one layer and scatters the pears on the top. I made 2 layers and put pears in the in-between layer too. Feel free to make it either way. I was cooking for a crowd but I also like at least 2 layers of panettone. It gives the dish some oomph and makes it filling, in a good way. This is the kind of dessert that will keep you going for days in the depths of winter.

Pear and Panettone Pudding
Adapted from Annie Bell’s Gorgeous Christmas
Feeds 21, easily with some leftovers for breakfast

1 panettone, sliced
Butter, for spreading
9 eggs
450g caster sugar
1250ml double cream
1250ml full cream milk
Splash of vanilla paste
8 pears
1L stock syrup
Apricot jam, for glazing

You’ll need to rather large, rectangular dishes for this, greased lightly. First things first, peel and core the pears. Heat the stock syrup (1L of water, 250g caster sugar, 3 slices of lemon) until simmering. Place the pears in the syrup, cover with some baking paper (for those technical minds this is called a cartouche) and simmer until the pears are tender and slightly translucent. The time this takes depends on how ripe your pears are. The riper the pears, the quicker they’ll cook. Mine were ridiculously ripe so this took less than 10 minutes when I did it but can take up to 45 minutes if your pears are like rocks. Don’t skip this step. The pears will discolour in the soaking process if you don’t cook them. Once the pears are tender, remove from the syrup and place on a chopping board. Slice the pears in half and then into thirds. Allow to cool.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until combined. Then whisk in the vanilla, milk and cream. Strain into a jug and set aside. Butter the slices of panettone and line the baking dishes. The aim is to completely cover the base of the dish. Scatter half the pears over the slices. Repeat again with slices and pears. Pour the egg mixture over the slices until they are completely covered. Wrap the dishes in cling film and refrigerate overnight. This allows the bread/panettone to soak up all the egg mixture and become soft and gooey which results in a smoother end pudding.

The next day, heat the oven to 160C and take the puds out of the fridge about an hour before baking to allow them to come to room temperature. This speeds up the whole cooking process. When you’re serving your main course, place the puddings in roasting dishes (or deep sided oven racks) and fill the roasting dish with water so that the water comes at least half way up the side of the pudding dish. Place these in the oven and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the puddings are set, golden and puffed at the sides.

Heat the apricot jam (about 4 tablespoons worth) with some water until it bubbles at the sides and is smooth. Brush this over the tops of the pudding. Serve with ice cream, custard or cream.

Unfortunately there are no photos of this lovely dish. I was distracted with the whole entertaining process and forgot about them. Apologies.