Last night, I was invited to dinner and showing of Episode 1 Season 3 of Downton Abbey, a casual Sunday night with friends. They roasted the Rosemary lemon chicken, a free range tender and tasty bird from Metchosin, raised with love and an elaborate grain diet. It was served with potatoes from 10 Mile Point, they grew themselves and carrots and asparagus with butter. The main course was so perfect, it would have met Dowager Violet’s daunting standard.
I was next with dessert and chose the Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce recipe, from the “Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook” by Emily Ansara Baines. Just what I think they served for the family alone on the eve of Lady Mary’s wedding if I heard Mrs Patmore correctly!
For 10 servings, the book calls for:
- 1/2 cup white sugar for sauce, and one cup for pudding
- 1/2 cup brown sugar for sauce and 1/2 for pudding
- 1 cup heavy cream for sauce and 1/2 for pudding
- 3 1/2 tbsps butter for sauce
- 1 tsp kosher salt for sauce and 1tsp for pudding
- 1 pound French baguette, cubed
- 2 3/4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup coffee liqueur such as Amaretto
- 1/4 cup high quality cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsps almond extract
- 2 tsps cinnamon
- 6 eggs
- 8 ounces high quality semi-sweet chocolate
- 2 ounces high quality milk chocolate
The instructions in the book are not all that useful so I will skip them. Who wants to dirty three bowls when it can be done with one. And why start with the sauce, when it can be made while the pudding cooks? I am sure that both Daisy and Mrs Patmore would agree, so here is my take. Cut up the baguette or white bread or brioche bread in cubes, grease a large baking dish 9X13 or 2 smaller ones, round works too. Place the bread in the dish.
In a large bowl, lightly beat 6 eggs, add the vanilla, almond and cinnamon and whisk together. Add white sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Thoroughly whisk until smooth. Add the milk, cream and coffee liqueur. As I did not have Amaretto I used rum and 1/2 tsp of instant coffee. Grate and add the chocolate, the hardest part of this recipe is grating all the chocolate! (I used 6 ounces bitter-sweet instead of 8 ounces semi-sweet). While the grater was out, I added the zest of a whole orange. Mix everything. Pour over the bread, stir and let soak while you pre-heat the oven to 325. Convect bake for 30 minutes for half recipe or small baking dishes, 50 to 60 min. for large dish. Check with a knife and remove from the oven as soon as the knife comes out clean. It is best to make this just before dinner so the pudding will remain warm and moist.
The Cookbook features classic recipes, from British upper-class fare to bangers and mash, and from refined French gourmet to mushy peas. I am not sure I would trust it to replicate difficult recipes like Sybil’s seafood Newburg or the Upstairs Downstairs Plum Pudding. If you wish to cook more of the Downton menus, I have already featured my own recipes for some of the items such as Beef Tongue, Onion soup, Crêpes Françaises, Roasted Duck or Mrs Patmore’s dropped chicken on this blog and the advantage of the blog over the book is the pictures and the practical approach. The book has not one single picture. Anyway, this is not a book review, I just want to say that leafing through the pages does make you dream about dinner at Downton’s, but for culinary facts , techniques, recipes, there are many more accurate sources. Likely why the publisher reminds us on the front cover that : ” This book is unofficial and unauthorized. It is not authorized, approved, licensed, or endorsed by Carnival Film and television Ltd.” So you know. But I still enjoyed browsing through and now raise my glass for a toast “to King George”!