Tham Jiak means in some way "love to eat" in Hokkien. I am a Malaysian Hokkien and truly love to eat.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sweet Goodbye

If you all have been following this blog, you would be familiar with L. Yes, she had been my guest blog a few times, writing about her food adventure in Penang and also her great research on Chee Cheong Fun that had caught so many’s attention. L came up to KL for internship the last 2 months, which started our food whore out there, once I wrote about it, many more in my archives yet to be publish, due to more food eating and enjoying life. It had certainly been fun when she’s up here. We got around quite a bit, pretty adventurous with our food endeavour, sometimes burning holes in our pockets, yet we would still go out and do it again.

Let me give some introduction about L. She had been one of my longest friend, and also a fellow 1984. I’ve known her since 11, and from there we just clicked and our friendship had grown since then till now. We have a lot in common, sharing interests in writing, books, dreams and of course food. It is not a wonder we are so close.

Anyway, we had a mini farewell for her last Tuesday at our new home, with our housemates and a few close friends. She promised to leave a goodbye note here, which I have yet to receive from her, and would update when I do. We had steamboat party, which has the usual array fresh food, and clear soup which would then later be turn to tom yam to finish it off.

When I got home from work (oh, yes I started, it was great), I quickly got to the kitchen to make dessert for the party. Guess what I will be making? It’s bread pudding. This dessert is easy; one can prepare before the party starts, leave it in the fridge and bout 1 hour near to the end, take out the bread pudding and bake it, then serve right out of the oven. This is one time I made something with my ‘own’ recipe, adapting from here and there, and since I am making it specially for L, I am naming it

Farewell Bread Pudding

I had about half a loaf left on apricot and raisins bread that I bought last week for my daily alone breakfasts. After a few days, I got tired of it and chuck it into the fridge. Therefore came the inspiration to use up this bread when the party came. This is actually the Gardenia Toast 'em fruit breads, if you live in Malaysia you’ll know which one, and it can be bought just about anywhere. They are good to eat just like that but I love it especially when toasted, with a good cup of coffee. Now, I found out that making it into this pudding was really good as well. Browsing through various recipes, I encountered most using whip cream, which if you had notice, does not ever appear in my recipes. Not to say I do not like it, maybe it’s the high fat content, maybe it’s the unavailability and also maybe it’s expensive. Therefore I had to adapt and fine alternative. To me, evaporated milk would be good, thick milky taste yet light and slightly creamy. This following recipe is my adaptation from few recipes, which I just go with hunch this time with the milk ratios, since I did not use cream and phew, it turned out great. At first it would seem to wet but trust me, once baked, all the liquid will absorb into the bread, making it pudding like. During baking it would puff up so nicely making one happy, but after cooling, it will shrink down. My heart nearly jump to my throat at the sight, there goes my dessert, as it also looked really burnt on the top and sides. There is no turning back for me as everyone at the steamboat table is waiting. There you have it, the adrenaline rush of a first try, serving to a bunch of people. Despite the hard look, once you spoon on it, it is actually soft inside, while crusty on the outside. The sugar topping gives it a deeper taste, some guessed it was gula Melaka, and with some hint of cinnamon. No one guessed the presence of alcohol, but I’m sure that is where the complex flavour came from. My first try and all my guests are happy about dessert, though it took some initial coaxing to try, as all of them have never tried bread pudding before. One of them even expected a flan instead. Well, a nearly empty dessert bowl signifies success I guess.

8 slices day old bread
3 tbsp butter melted

3 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup low fat milk
4 tbsp of sugar
½ rsp vanilla essence
½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup raisins (I used a little lesser because my bread came with raisins)
4 tbsp brandy

2 tbsp fine jaggery powder (or fine brown sugar or palm sugar)

Soak the raisins in the brandy for at bout 30 minutes
Melt butter in microwave, or on the stove
Use a spoon and slowly swirl and coat all the bread slices with butter
Trim off the sides if the bread (not necessary white clean, a little crusts would give a crunch)
Then cut it into about 8 triangles each slice, I did not care bout getting it really uniform, just about the same size
Reserve triangles from two side slices of bread to one side
Then line the bread triangles in two rows, slightly overlapping one another in a glass oven proof dish (I used an oval dish about 12 cm width, 5 cm thick, just use one big enough to accommodate all the bread and some room for puffing up)
Cream together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until bubbly
Then pour in the raisins and all the liquid and mix well
Slowly, pour this custard mixture onto the bread slices
Take the reserve bread slices and chuck it in at all the sides, with the crusts facing outwards, lining next to each other
Put the dish into the refrigerator and let it soak for about an hour
Preheat the oven to 180 C
Take the dish out and then sprinkle the jaggery powder all over the bread top
Bake the bread for 45 minutes

Serves 8-10 party people


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