Saturday, February 16, 2008

Egg or Not Egg

For years I said, "Why would anyone who will not eat meat, choose to eat eggs?" I wondered why they thought that it was ok to eat a chicken embryo, but not the chicken itself. I asked a couple of people and the answer from them was that the egg wasn't viable if it wasn't fertilized. So, I thought, ok, next time I was in an airport and wanted something to eat with my cup of tea, I guess the muffin is ok. There is still the cruelty issue, however. Commercial egg farms are incredibly inhumane, not to mention an environmental blight. So, no muffin in the airport. I have, on occasion, bought eggs. I look for locally grown, cage free chicken's eggs. I don't feel like I am rustling up much karma when I use a couple in the bread pudding my grandson requested. A couple of times I ate an omelet, but didn't feel too good afterward, so unless I am feeling very protein deficient, I don't expect to make that a regular thing.

I am, however, going to put a couple in the bread pudding I am making today. This is not the custard-with-bread-in-it American version, but the version I learned to make while living in England. It comes out like a very substantial, almost cake. Here's the recipe with choices according to your dietary karma perspective:

Bread :Surviva or Wonder? Best made with bread without too much air. To make a spring form pan full you will need a loaf to a loaf and a half.
Butter or margarine :I use an olive oil based margarine, but butter makes a richer product. Spread lightly on slices of bread.
Sugar :your choice of white refined, Organic Succanat, or Maple Syrup. They all work, but the white tastes pretty wimpy once you've tried the others. You really don't need much sweetener; maybe a third to half of a cup.
Salt :A quarter teaspoon full. If you use unsalted butter, maybe a little more.
Cinnamon :1 or 2 teaspoons to taste. You can use other spices if you want. A little pumpkin pie spice would be good.
Vanilla :1 teaspoon. I'm sure I don't have to talk about the difference between imitation and real.
Eggs :3 eggs beaten with a fork
Milk :You can use any kind of milk. I like Almond milk for the richness. Use enough to moisten bread so it gets mushy.
Fruit :Lots of room for creativity here. Any dried fruit such as golden raisins, currants, cranberries, cherries. You could dice up some fresh apple. I am not a big banana fan, but what about a mashed up banana and some rum flavoring? hmmm. . .

Once you've buttered the bread just throw everything into a bowl and stir it around. I think a wooden spoon makes it taste better. You want the bread to be just softened so it is falls apart. Oil your pan. A spring form works really well. A bundt pan makes a nice presentation, but make sure it is well greased. An 8X8 baking dish works just fine. Or why not try individual muffin sized bread puddings?

Bake at 350F until its done in the middle and golden brown. It will probably take about 40 minutes depending on how wet it was when it went in. If it was wetter and it is getting dark but still soft, turn the oven down to 300F and cook a little longer. Next time don't use quite so much milk.

This recipe makes a great picnic dessert. You can fancy it up with a sauce of some kind, like lemon or raspberry. My family like to eat it with milk or cream poured over while it is warm. Some other ideas: Add nuts to the batter. Add cocoa powder to the batter or serve with a chocolate sauce. That might be really good on a bread pudding made with dried cherries. What else?

About the egg: Any of the usual egg replacers would probably work just fine. I haven't experimented yet. If you do, let me know how it comes out.

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