After two rather miserable years of smaller gatherings and quieter celebrations, we can all only hope that Christmas 2021 will be the merriest of all — fingers crossed! I assume the Christmas cakes have been baked by now, but there’s still loads of time to make a yummy panettone bread pudding if you’re in the mood for a sweet change. Even devoted Irish cooks have discovered this rich Italian Christmas cake that’s sold in markets and specialty stores throughout the festive season. The cake, which comes from the northern Italian city of Milan and whose name translates to “big loaf,” is a large, dome-shaped cake that’s been leavened with yeast. Light and airy in texture, rich and buttery in taste, the not-too-sweet cake is studded with dried fruits like the ones found in an Irish fruit cake. Grab one to use in this bread-and-butter pudding laced with lemon curd. Make the rum sauce while the puddings are baking. You’ll find this recipe and more “elegant endings” in my newest cookbook Festive Flavors of Ireland. To order a signed copy, visit www.irishcook.com.
PANETTONE BREAD PUDDING WITH RUM SAUCE
For the pudding
4 ounces butter, at room temperature
8 tablespoons lemon curd
5 large eggs
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 cup sugar
For the rum sauce
2 ounces butter
2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
1. Make puddings. Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat eight (6-ounce) ramekins with butter flavored cooking spray.
2. Cut panettone into eight 1-inch-thick slices. (Reserve remaining panettone for another use.) Spread one side of each slice with butter; top with lemon curd. Cut each slice into squares and loosely fit into ramekins.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, and sugar. Spoon mixture over panettone; press down gently. Let puddings rest for 5 to 10 minutes; spoon any remaining egg mixture over to be sure bread is soaked. Transfer ramekins to a baking sheet.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until puddings rise and tops are lightly browned. Let cool on a wire for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around edge of ramekins to loosen; transfer to serving plates. Serve with rum sauce.
5. Make sauce. In a medium saucepan, melt butter; stir in brown and granulated sugars. Add rum, cinnamon stick and cream; bring slowly to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, or until sauce is smooth. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. Just before serving, remove and discard cinnamon stick.