Rhubarb Bread Crust and Butter Pudding

It was only recently when we were trying out a bokashi bin to allow us to compost cooked food waste that I truly realised how many bread crusts we were throwing away, and how much of the bread was still attached to that crust.  It is such a waste to throw it away, and feels even more so when the bread is homemade.  From time to time I would cut off the crusts to use for breadcrumbs for example but we don’t use those a great deal so I just kept hoping that my son would eventually start eating them if I left them on.

Anyhow, I have now resigned myself to the fact that it is much lest wasteful if I just cut off the crusts beforehand.  Now I have almost a whole shelf in the freezer full of breadcrusts so had to come up with something to use them for.  I have been blitzing some up with cheese to make a crispy topping for lasagne and other pasta bakes, and found a recipe for brushing the crusts with butter, sprinkling with cinammon and sugar and baking until crispy which was a great success – my son and his friend polished that lot off pretty quickly.

We also have a lot of rhubarb so I wanted to come up with a dessert to make use of some of that as well as incorporating the bread crusts.  So here it is – bread and butter pudding (although this recipe doesn’t actually include butter but is not like British bread pudding) made with bread crusts and rhubarb.

Ingredients:

  • Rhubarb ( approx 3 stalks)
  • Bread crusts (equivalent to approx 4 slices of bread – you could of course use slices of bread instead)
  • 1tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Approx 500ml milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • Ginger and cinammon to taste.

Method:

  • Wash and chop the rhubarb and place it with the sugar into a glass jug or  microwaveable bowl – microwave for a minute or 2 until it starts to soften.
  • Spread out the bread crusts and cooked rhubarb in a shallow dish. Add some ginger to taste (this can be fresh, ground, crystallised or stem ginger – I used crystallised ginger which I chopped up and scattered amongst the bread and rhubarb)
  • Mix together the milk, eggs and vanilla essence.
  • Pour over the bread and rhubarb and leave for at least 10 minutes to soak in ( in my efforts to use them up I had used rather more bread crusts than I should and it all soaked in pretty quickly).
  • Sprinkle with cinammon or additional brown sugar to taste.
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Before baking
  • Bake at 180 degrees C for 30-40 mins until set and golden.
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Fresh from the oven
  • Serve with cream, custard or ice cream.

I made enough to last us 2 days and I would say it was actually better cold on the second day served with vanilla ice cream – I guess the flavours had more time to mingle.

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Served cold with ice cream

 

I’d love to hear your ideas for using up bread.

 

Rhubarb and Apple Jam

 

 

Rhubarb is one of the few plants that reliably turns up a bumper crop in our garden every year. It grows so well in its spot next to the compost bin that we always have way more than we know what do with, even more so since my dad split it into 4 plants a couple of years ago.  Preserving it in a jam is a great way of keeping some for later in the year (although I must admit to starting eating this straight away).   Although best made with early rhubarb you can also use larger stalks just fine.  Our rhubarb plant has been passed down through the generations so I have no idea what variety it is – it originally came from a plant in my great grandfather’s garden and as a child it came with us when we moved house.  When I first got my own place we split the plant so I could plant my own and it has since moved again with me, and a plant has been returned to dad for his allotment.

The apples and the lemon rind and juice in this recipe help it to set – if you were to leave them both out you may need to use jam sugar, which contains added pectin. If you are organised enough to have planned ahead I am sure you could use frozen diced apples which would allow you to use foraged crab apples or homegrown if you are lucky enough to have an apple tree.

Rhubarb and Apple Jam:

Ingredients:

  • 1kg rhubarb stalks, washed and trimmed, then sliced into approx 1cm chunks
  • 3 eating apples or a large cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
  • 1kg preserving sugar ( or jam sugar for added pectin)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1tsp ground ginger (optional)
  • 25g unsalted butter

Equipment needed:

  • Large bowl
  • Either a preserving pan or a heavy based large saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Grater or lemon zester
  • Sterilised jars – you can reuse old jam jars. This recipe will probably make about 4-6  jars depending on the size but have a couple more ready just in case.
  • Jam or sugar thermometer (optional) or put several saucers in the fridge or freezer (to use later to test the jam setting point).

How to sterilise the jars:

Wash your jars thoroughly in soapy water or a dishwasher and dry in an oven at 140 degrees C for at least 10 mins – then keep them warm until ready to use.  Scald the clean lids in boiling water.  You can alternatively use a sterilising solution according to the pack instructions and warm the jars after rinsing thoroughly.

 Method:

  1. Place the sliced rhubarb into a large bowl with the sugar.
  2. Use the lemon zester or grater to grate the lemon rind into the bowl. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze in the juice.
  3. Give it all a stir. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth such as a tea towel and leave for a few hours, stirring occasionally.  You should see some juices start to come out of the rhubarb (if not you can leave it longer – some recipes say to leave overnight but I find a few hours works fine).
  4. Meanwhile wash and sterilise your jars as above.
  5. Empty your bowl of rhubarb and sugar with all the juices into your pan. Add the chopped apple and ginger (if using).
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil slowly so that the rhubarb and apple have time to soften.
  7. Then bring the mix to a rolling boil and boil until it reaches setting point ( see below), stirring frequently to prevent sticking (and because personally I prefer the rhubarb broken up rather than in big chunks in the final jam). I found this took about 25 mins but this may vary.
  8. Once your jam has reached setting point remove from the heat, stir in the butter and leave to cool down a little. You may find it has formed a skin on cooling in which case give it a quick stir before spooning carefully into your warmed jars.  Place the lids on while still warm.

 

How to test for setting point:

Using a jam thermometer – setting point should be achieved at around 104 -105 degrees C.  However you may find it difficult to test accurately if you are making a relatively small amount of jam in a large pan – I have never managed it and prefer the saucer method.    When you think the jam is approaching setting point (it will start to thicken a little), get a cold saucer from your fridge/freezer and carefully drop a little of the jam onto it.  Give it a moment to cool and then press with your finger – if ready it should wrinkle a little. If not cook for another few minutes and test again.

 

Rhubarb vodka

Rhubarb vodka
Rhubarb vodka

 

Last year I made wine with the rhubarb. Tasted great by Christmas. This year I thought I’d try vodka too – much easier!  You essentially follow the same method you would use when making sloe gin:

500g rhubarb – trimmed, washed and cut into short lengths (young rhubarb is best and gives a nicer pink colour).

250g sugar – I used caster sugar but sure plain granulated sugar would be fine too

1 75cl bottle vodka

1 sterilised container large enough to take all of the above (such as a 1.5litre kilner).

Optional extras – a little vanilla essence, ginger or maybe star anise?

Put the rhubarb pieces into a large bowl and crush a little with a pestle (or a rolling pin) to help release some of the juices.

Put the rhubarb plus any juices that have come out into the jar.

Add the sugar.

Add the vodka.

Give it a good shake and seal the jar.

Give it a good shake every day or two for at least a week to ensure the sugar has all dissolved .

Leave in a dark cupboard for around 2 months, then sieve into a sterilised bottle and enjoy. Imagine it may work well with lemonade.

Don’t throw away the rhubarb – try it with some custard, ice cream ( remember the rhubarb is still raw so cook it first) or mixed in with some fresh rhubarb or other fruit in a crumble.

 

Rhubarb wine

The rhubarb is growing so fiercely I needed to find something else to make with it other than desserts.  After my initial foray into wine making with elderflower champagne last year I thought I’d try it with rhubarb this year.  There are many recipes out there – this time I have tried one from The Guardian yielded by a quick online search. Some of the additional ingredients were quite pricey so have found another one using tea instead of grape concentrate which I may give a go next time. Will attempt to add the web links to this page.

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Anyway, so far so good – it is fermenting away almost ready to syphon into another bottle . Looked rather alarmingly brown when I added the yeast but it’s starting to look a little pinker already – and still at early stages.Image