Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The remains of the day

What I love about Greek tsoureki, besides it being the most delicious sweet bread there is, is all the things I can do with it.

The simplest thing to do is slather it with a decent, or better yet obscene amount of butter and my favorite jam, which is and will always be strawberry.

Make French toast, of course, where all you need to do is dip your stale tsoureki slices in a mix of eggs and milk, fry them in butter, pour honey all over them and finish them off with a good sprinkling of cinnamon.

And then there's this dish. The tsoureki bread and butter pudding; the ultimate option.
I have to be honest. This dessert is all very new to me. It's not typical in Greek cuisine and certainly not something my grandmother would make the day after Easter but, when I gave it a try, I just couldn't believe how incredible it was.

You take your stale tsoureki, still fragrant and full of promise, you slice it and arrange it on a well-buttered baking dish. You prepare a rich custard, eight egg yolks mind you, you pour it all over the tsoureki and you top the whole thing off with fresh strawberries, dried currants and demerara sugar.

I guarantee your mouth will water even before the dish is out of the oven. The intoxicating aromas of the vanilla, the strawberries and the mahlepi in the tsoureki will penetrate your nostrils and you'll be filled with anticipation for what you're about to taste. And once you do, you will certainly be amazed.

Amazed by the luscious texture and flavor of the tsoureki, the juiciness of the sweet strawberries, the soft and gooey bottom of the pudding and the beautifully crusty, caramelized top. You'll want to eat more than you can handle which is only natural but you'll have to control yourself. It's a rich dessert, I don't want you to regret it afterwards. Then again, well, we only live once, right?

Tsoureki Bread and Butter Pudding with Strawberries, Vanilla and Currants
Adapted from Donna Hay

My Politiko tsoureki is ideal for bread and butter pudding simply because it ages well. It retains its structure when it gets stale and has a well-browned crust and robust crumb.
You can substitute of course with other types of sweet bread like brioche or challah.

Instead of vanilla extract, I used vanilla bean paste which is my new find. What an amazing flavor it has! If you haven't tasted it before, the time is now. Buy a jar, you won't regret it. It is vanilla flavor x 2.

I love using demerara sugar (like in this dessert) because it has such a deep flavor but you can also use caster sugar.

Yield: 8-10 servings

30 g unsalted butter
15-17 slices of stale tsoureki (or any other sweet bread)
620 ml cream, 35% fat
500 ml fresh, whole milk
8 medium-sized egg yolks
110 g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
600 g fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in half lengthwise
40 g dried currants (I used Black Corinth)
20 g demerara sugar (or caster sugar), for sprinkling over the top before baking

A little caster sugar for sprinkling over the top after baking

Special equipment: large baking dish with a 2-2.5 liter capacity

Grease the baking dish well with the butter. Arrange the tsoureki slices in the baking dish in such a way so that one slice leans on the other.

In a large saucepan, add the cream and milk and stir to combine. Heat over medium-high heat until it starts to steam. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. You need it to be warm and not hot.

In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, the caster sugar and the vanilla bean paste or extract and whisk until well combined.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Pour the warm cream mixture in the egg mixture very slowly, whisking quickly and continuously, being careful not to scramble your eggs. Pour the custard over the tsoureki slices, making sure you pour it over every single slice and not in the middle of the dish.
Add the currants and the sliced strawberries on top. Sprinkle with the demerara (or caster) sugar and place the baking dish on the middle rack of the oven.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top has taken on a golden brown color.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and allow the pudding to cool slightly. Sprinkle the top with a little caster sugar, serve it in individual plates and eat it while it's warm from the oven.
I also like it the following day, at room temperature, but I wouldn't advise you to keep it longer than one day.


  1. Diet killer! That looks SO incredibly good!

  2. Probably one of the best uses for stale tsoureki, ever! I love how you put fresh strawberries and currents in there. Kalo Pacha!

  3. Such a pretty post Magda! Love love it!

  4. Nothing better than recipes that use up leftovers, especially if they are that precious!

  5. This sounds and looks so delicious! I want to make the tsoureki just so that I can make this! (Although I am sure the bread with butter will be had in between...) Thanks! ~ David

  6. Have to try it for my leftover colomba!

  7. Fantastic post! I am a big fan of bread and butter pudding!

  8. This looks amazing. I love using tsoureki for french toast, but I've never made bread pudding from it. I still have a loaf in the freezer, so I think I need to give this a try!

  9. That's a wonderful way to use any leftover bread, especially tsoureki which is so flavourful. I used up all my leftover dyed eggs yesterday and still have some leftover tsoureki but even if it's not so fresh still love having it for breakfast.

  10. What a beautifully elegant, yet simple use of strawberries & your wonderful bread. Strawberries are at all our markets right now...all local and delicious. I will try this recipe and thanks so much.

  11. You found a beautiful way to use the leftover tsoureki Magda! Beautiful colors and smells! Χρόνια Πολλά, Χριστός Ανέστη!

  12. What a beautiful and comforting dessert. I love the look of this. The strawberries must add great sweetness. And everything tastes better with custard xx

  13. What a beautiful bread pudding. I can't wait until we have sweet ripe strawberries available.

  14. This looks delicious, especially with all the fruit you used. Strawberries are just around the corner for us!

  15. Hi Magda, thanks for checking in on me- you lured me back in :) This recipe (like all of yours) is so tempting- if would make a point of having old bread just to eat it!
    Happy Spring!

  16. Yum - I always use egg bread or challah for my baked french toast/bread pudding style dishes, but obviously it could be so much better with choereg/tsoureki - unfortunately it never lasts long enough at my house to be able to use it for this... I'll have to hide some so I can try it :)

  17. This looks absolutely delicious! Perfect for spring and summer.

  18. wonderful---the strawberries here are flooding the farmers markets. they are deep red and so so sweet. perfect for this dish.

  19. Where did you find the vanilla bean paste? I've been looking for it.