This week, as part of my short internship at Gontran Cherrier, Tokyo, I was put to serious work rolling croissants and pains au chocolat. Half-way through my first batch of croissants (of about 100 I think, although I soon lost count), I was grasped by a sudden fear…..what if they don’t work? Fortunately I was not alone; one of the senior bakers was soon struck by the same concern and promptly set aside six of my efforts to rise. About four hours later (by which point it felt as though I was venturing into the thousands), I was called into the bakery. Phew, they were croissants. Not lopsided or crooked, I could banish the visions of misshapen viennoiseries from my thoughts. I finished my shift on a high and bought six to take home.
Since everyone in our temporary Japanese/English household had the next day off work, I figured I’d try a twist on a British classic: bread and butter pudding. I’m not ashamed in the slightest to declare my love for anything Nigella; I was once ridiculed for admitting this so freely in the ‘professional kitchen’, but her recipes never fail to please. And so, to celebrate my (now slightly stale) croissant-shaped successes, I turned to ‘Domestic Goddess’ Lawson once again.
I modified the recipe a little because I couldn’t find any rum (and we’re currently living very low-budget); I added some good quality sea salt to the caramel instead.
6 stale croissants
300g caster sugar
6 tablespoons of water
375ml double cream
375ml whole milk
Two generous pinches of sea salt
6 large eggs (beaten)
6 tablespoons of rum or bourbon (optional)
1. Tear up the croissants roughly and place the pieces into a brownie tin or ovenproof serving dish.
2. Put the sugar and water into a medium-sized saucepan and stir briefly to help dissolve the sugar.
3. Set the saucepan over a medium heat and swirl until all the sugar has completely dissolved.
4. Leave the sugar to cook until caramelised (do not stir from this point onwards or it will crystallise) – leave until a deep amber colour.
5. Reduce the heat to low and add the cream and milk, standing back a little as it will splutter. Whisk the caramel until all the solid toffee has dissolved and it is completely smooth.
6. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly before whisking into the beaten eggs. Add the sea salt and taste the mixture, seasoning a little more if necessary.
7. Pour the salted caramel custard over the croissant pieces and leave to steep for 10 minutes. Place into a pre-heated oven (180°C) and bake for approximately 20 minutes. The pudding should be golden and crispy on top.