A brief interlude then, before we have to face the winter music, put our boots on and go out and succeed at life or whatever it is we’re supposed to be doing.
Enter: pudding. The first time I made bread pudding I must’ve been…12?
I remember watching Nigella Lawson making it, and she was so beautiful. With her English accent, and her big boobs and big hips and tendency to lick the batter off the spoon. Watching her was like discovering the Marilyn Monroe of food, this woman who could make things at once hearty and sexy. That there was no shame in being a bit sloppy, a bit bigger here and there, but ever so entwined with food like it was a lover.
Bread pudding is not necessarily sexy, but it is a highly undervalued dessert. When you tell people that’s what you’re making, they think of a gelatinous goop with bits of bread floating around. That’s not the case.
Bread pudding is texturally amazing…soaking the bread in cream, sugar, milk and eggs makes it a silky, sticky-bun kind of custard cake. The top pieces of bread get crunchy and caramelized with a bit of brown sugar.
I learned from Nigella then, that it is OKAY to shovel food into your mouth. When it’s delicious, and you love the food, forget self-restraint. There she was, eating big heaping spoonfuls in front of a camera, letting sauce dribble down her chin and then having a big laugh about it.
Anyway, it doesn’t stop at bread pudding. There’s also a sauce to go along with it. You gotta have the sauce by the way–don’t be fooled, especially this one made from brown sugar, cream, butter and a tablespoon of bourbon. Not Nigella’s idea but I have a
feeling between outtakes she was dabbing whiskey behind her ears, on her wrist. Doesn’t that seem like the kind of thing she would do? Food seductress.
Let’s leave her recent public narcotic scandals out of it. The woman is a goddess. She taught me then that some days you just have to give in. That there’s something sensual about staying home, handling litres of heavy cream and curling up with a book in the winter to just ooh and aah over food. Be okay with kitchen activity being the only thing that will get done on a winter day: it’s still a bit of exercise to slowly tango between oven and counter, holding the hand of a wooden spoon, keeping a mitted hand at the hip.
Bread pudding is the ultimate ode to comfort food. Yes, winter is harsh. It’s been easy for me to get upset about the bitter cold, homesickness and even the silly holiday pounds. But…I can’t feel bad about the bread pudding. Not today.