Rhubarb and Sourdough Bread Puddings
Rhubarb and Sourdough Bread Puddings

Rhubarb and Sourdough Bread Puddings

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    Makes 8 individual puddings
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I get as excited about the start of the new rhubarb season as a child does about Christmas! I think part of my excitement is because for me it symbolises the beginning of a new year and ultimately a new season. The winter months produce a limited supply of seasonal ingredients, then forced rhubarb appears and it has such a vibrant and wonderful colour, hence the excitement.

I have written two methods for cooking the rhubarb in this recipe, if you have the sous-vide tools, then give this recipe a go (see Chef’s Notes); it works for me every time, but if not, then the conventional method is just as good. The results are slightly different because with the conventional method the rhubarb may lose a bit of its shape if the heat is too fierce, but just use your commonsense with this one – I have given timings, but please keep a close eye on it. I am looking for a result of a cooked but almost candied rhubarb rather than a purée.

I have also used fresh sourdough breadcrumbs for these puddings. You could use normal wholewheat bread instead, but the sourdough gives these puddings their amazing light texture and wonderful nutty taste. Don’t be fooled by the title either, because these puddings are deliciously light and not heavy as one might expect.

Ingredients & Method

  • 500g forced rhubarb
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grenadine syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 125g raspberry jam, plus 8 teaspoons
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 125g soft dark brown sugar
  • 125g fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
  • 25g self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 large eggs

First prepare the rhubarb. Wash and trim the rhubarb, then slice it into 1cm-thick slices. Place the rhubarb in a saucepan, along with the caster sugar, grenadine syrup and water, then cover the pan with a lid and place over a low heat. Slowly dissolve the sugar, stirring occasionally, then simmer for 2 minutes (but don’t cook the rhubarb too much). Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes with the lid on – the steam and heat in the pan will cook the rhubarb through. This cooking method may cause the rhubarb to lose its shape slightly; the sous-vide method (see Chef’s Notes) retains the shape and a bit of texture/crunch. Uncover, leave to cool completely, then chill before use.

Make the puddings. Grease 8 individual plastic pudding basins with tight-fitting lids (each basin about 150ml). Drain the poached chilled rhubarb (reserve the syrup – see Chef’s Notes), weigh out 150g (reserving the rest for serving) and evenly divide it between the prepared pudding basins, then place 1 teaspoon of jam into each basin. Set aside.

Place the butter, remaining 125g jam and the brown sugar in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted completely and the mixture just starts to boil. Remove from the heat. Meanwhile, measure the breadcrumbs, flour and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl and crack the eggs into another bowl. Add the melted butter mixture to the dry ingredients, mix well, then add the eggs, whisking quickly to mix well.

Divide the mixture evenly between the 8 pudding basins, cover them with their lids, place in a steamer set over a pan of simmering water and steam for about 1 hour or until cooked, risen and dark brown.

Remove the puddings from the steamer and leave to cool (with the lids still on) for 30 minutes, then turn out and serve with the remaining poached rhubarb and fresh vanilla custard.

Chef’s Notes
To cook the rhubarb using the sous-vide method, wash and trim the rhubarb, then slice it into 1cm-thick slices. Place the rhubarb into two medium-size vacuum pack bags; divide the sugar, grenadine syrup and water between the two bags and seal on hard vacuum. Cook in a preheated water bath at 80°C for 10 minutes. Immediately dunk the bags into iced water and cool completely, then chill before using as directed in the recipe.

This poached rhubarb will keep for up to 7 days in the vacuum bags in the fridge.

Use the syrup from the drained rhubarb to make a Rhubarb Spritzer – pour some of the rhubarb syrup (to taste) into a glass over ice and top up with soda water.

Another delicious alternative is to make a Rhubarb Royale – pour a 25ml measure of the rhubarb syrup into a champagne glass and top up with chilled champagne.