Every so often I come across an ingredient that is new to me. In 2009 Dulce de Leche kept cropping up: used as a pouring sauce topping for puddings and ice cream, in a cake at Culinary Travels (untried) and even as an Ice Cream flavour at Smitten Kitchen (also untried). Dulce de Leche means literally ‘sweet of milk’ in Spanish and a little research helped me to realise that it was similar to a food fashion from a few years ago which I knew by the uninspiring name of ‘tin’. I never tried to make it, but friends told me that if you gently boiled an unopened tin of condensed milk for several hours, once it was cool it could be opened to reveal a delicious pouring toffee. (I have since found the instructions for making Dulce de Leche in various places online: there are detailed instructions from purplefoodie and also at gastronomydomine along with a delicious sounding, but untried, by me, recipe for Banoffee Pie. Be warned though that, despite what you read, tins can explode: it happened to a friend, although she did admit that the pan boiled dry! There are two alternative methods listed by Fig Jam & Lime Cordial, one using a microwave and the other cooked in a bain marie/water bath in the oven.) Having read that French supermarkets stock Confiture du Lait (literally ‘milk jam’), which is more or less the same item, after some searching I managed to find some there when I was on holiday last year (Bonne Maman brand). I bought a jar so I could experiment at home. I understand Dulce de Leche can be bought in the UK, but I have so far seen it just once in a local ethnic supermarket where it was rather expensive, however I haven’t looked that hard since I brought my supply home from France! I have also read that there is a UK brand of toffee in a squeezy tube, but I have never seen it.
There are recipes for bread and butter type puddings using croissants and I remember watching one being made on television, though I have forgotten where. It’s a bit more ‘up market’ than the basic bread & butter pudding, an example of which is the Paddington Pudding I have already added on this site. I tracked down a recipe which added apple and toffee sauce, simply called ‘That Croissant Bread & Butter Pudding’ on the National Baking Week site which I used as a starting point for my own version. My finished pudding is not very sweet, which we enjoyed, although being a little more generous with the toffee sauce or adding Demerara sugar over the soaked croissants would make it more so. The original recipe suggested that Calvados (Apple Brandy) or sweet sherry could be included for an ‘adult’ pudding: I decided to use just a small amount of brandy which certainly added an extra dimension. Leave it out if you wish: I am sure the pudding will be just as delicious without. The croissants used were left over from a church event and had been frozen for several weeks, but this did not affect the finished pudding.
Toffee Apple Croissant (Bread & Butter) Pudding
6-8 croissants (stale is fine)
2tbsp brandy – optional
Dulce de Leche/Confiture du Lait/’Tin’/Squeezy Toffee – to taste
½tsp vanilla extract
2ozs/60g dried fruit, sultanas or raisins are good
2-3 medium sized eating apples (I used Cox’s Orange Pippins)
juice of ½ lemon (or ‘Jif’ type bottled lemon, not squash): prevents the apples browning
10g/½oz butter, cut into small pieces
2tbsp demerara sugar (for the topping): more if you wish – optional
½pt/280ml single cream (some for mixing but most for serving)
1. Spread the croissants generously with Dulce de Leche/Confiture du Lait or similar toffee sauce. Cut the croissants into quarters.
2. Butter a shallow 9-10 inch dish. Tightly pack a layer of croissant pieces in the base of the dish, leaving as few spaces as possible.
3. Mix the eggs and milk together in a jug and add the vanilla extract and brandy. Pour over the pudding, making sure the croissants are well soaked. A little extra milk can be added if needed, depending on how many croissants have been used. For best results, before the apple and mixed fruit are added, this dish should be left in a cool place to allow the milk mixture to fully soak into the croissants. All day or overnight if possible, but at least 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 160oC/325oF/Gas 3.
5. Peel, core and slice the apples into slices. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
6. If you want extra sweetness then the Demerara sugar can be added either now, before adding the apples, or after the apple layer to give a crunchy finish. Cover the soaked croissants with half of the dried fruit, then a layer of apple slices in lines to make a decorative pattern and then the remainder of the dried fruit.
7. Dot the butter evenly over the apples. Mix 2 tablespoons of Dulce de Leche/Confiture du Lait or similar toffee sauce with a similar quantity of cream, to give a pouring consistency and drizzle this over the whole pudding in a zig-zag pattern.
8. If not already added, sprinkle demerara sugar over the pudding before cooking.
9. If the dish has been in the fridge it should be allowed to come to room temperature before putting in the oven.
10. Place the pudding dish in a bain marie: a second dish carefully filled with boiling water that comes to about half way up the sides of the pudding dish.
11. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 40-45 minutes, or until the apples are cooked, soft and lightly golden.
12. Serve with the remaining single cream.
Delamere Dairy Chocolate Croissant Bread & Butter Pudding untried