Poached quince elevates the standard bread pudding. If you can’t get hold of any, use poached pears instead (instructions for cooking them are on the previous page). This is good with a little crème fraîche – the tartness provides a lovely contrast.
Prep time: 30 minutes, plus 30 minutes infusing | Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- 2 medium-sized quinces (about 325g each)
- Juice of 2 lemons and 2 broad strips of zest
- 125g granulated sugar
- 75g dried cranberries
- 175ml whisky
- 300ml full-fat milk
- 300ml double cream
- 100g caster sugar
- ½ cinnamon stick
- 3 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
- 50g unsalted butter
- 250g brioche, cut into 1.5cm squares
- 80g fresh cranberries
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Peel and halve the quinces. Place in a saucepan with 500ml water, the lemon juice and zest, and the granulated sugar. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring a little to help the sugar dissolve, then turn the heat down and poach until the quinces are tender. The length of time this takes seems to vary. They can be ready in 15 minutes or over half an hour. Keep checking. Lift the quinces out so they can cool, but return them to the poaching liquor once cool, especially if you are preparing them the day before.
- Put the dried cranberries and whisky into a small saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Immediately pull the pan off the heat and leave the fruit to plump up for 30 minutes.
- Bring the milk, cream, caster sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt to the boil in a heavy-bottomed pan, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. As soon as the liquid reaches boiling-point, take the pan off the heat. Leave for 30 minutes to infuse.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
- Cut the quinces into slim slices (discard the cores). Beat together the eggs and the extra yolks. Pour the milk and cream mixture on to the eggs, stirring all the time.
- Melt the butter and pour it over the bread in a bowl, turning the bread over in it. Layer the bread in an ovenproof dish, sprinkling on the boozy cranberries (with the soaking liquid), the poached quince slices and the fresh cranberries as you go. Pour on the egg and cream mixture through a sieve and leave to sit for half an hour; this makes the pudding lighter.
- Put the dish into a roasting-tin and add enough boiling water to the tin to come about a third of the way up the sides of the dish. Bake for 45 minutes. The pudding should be puffed up and golden on top.
- Leave to cool slightly (apart from being extremely hot when it comes out of the oven, it will set a little more as it becomes lukewarm). Sift some icing sugar over the top before serving.