Singapore Dessert – Tropical Bread Pudding

Spore - 001 Tropical BP w Banana Sauce edited re-sized

Britain decided to colonize Singapore because it was competing with the Dutch over trade. Singapore became British colony after Sir Stamford Raffles started a trading post on our island in 1819 and in 1963 she became part of Malaysia. It was only in 1965 that Singapore gained her full independence. As long as she was a British colony, all manner of British governance, education, language, culture took precedence over anything indigenous or the language, religion or culture brought in by the different settlers. Everything British was to be adopted into our lives.

A bread and butter pudding has been described as “a Victorian nursery food at its finest; blandly milky, comfortingly stodgy, and just the thing to use up all the staling half loaves left hanging around…”

In celebration of modern independent Singapore I have concocted this bread and butter pudding with a tropical twist.

My pudding uses a short cut – a commercially made pandan bread from “Sunshine Bakery” which is sold at supermarkets and petrol kiosks all over Singpaore. Slices are soaked in a delectable custard of gula malacca, coconut santan and eggs and then baked bain marie (in a water bath) for a smoother custard.

This dessert will please more than those in your nursery!

Some Comments about Ingredients

  • Pandan Flavoured Bread. May be substituted with plain milk bread but add 1/2 tsp pandan essence to the liquids.
  • Gula Malacca. The sweet nectar from a budding flower of a coconut, date or sago palm tree is evaporated to produce this sugar. They are dark in colour and sold in blocks in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia but they are disk-shaped and a creamy colour in Thailand.
  • Candied pineapple bits. These may be found at shops which sell bakery items. They may be left out of this recipe if unavailable.

Preparation

STEP 1. Gather all the required ingredients, a 1 1/2 quart corning ware and one large baking pan. Wash the pandan leaves and gently bruise them by scrunching with your hand, then cut them into smaller pieces for easy release of flavour.

STEP 2. Prepare the gula malacca syrup. Use a large chef’s knife, chop the block of gula malacca into small chunks. Add these bits into a small saucepan with 1/3 Cup water and pandan leaf pieces. Heat and stir contents over medium heat to make syrup. Cool for about 20 mins.

Making Tropical Bread + Butter Pudding

STEP 1. Grease the oven-proof casserole or disposable baking tray with softened butter. Butter one side of each slice of bread and cut each slice into quarters. Build layers of the buttered pieces of bread in the casserole, sprinkling the candied pineapple bits in between.

STEP 2.  Put the coconut cream and milk into a medium sized bowl. Strain the cooled gula Malacca syrup into the coconut cream (don’t skip this straining step as some gula malacca blocks contain little bits of debris). Stir to mix well.

STEP 3.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs well with a fork but try to create as little foam as possible. Slowly add in the liquid from Step 2. Stir to mix well both well. This mixture is the liquid custard.

STEP 4. Pour the liquid custard mixture onto the prepared bread layers. Leave for an hour so that all the liquid is well absorbed by the bread pieces.

STEP 5. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Once the oven is at 180 C, boil about 1.8 litres of water in the kettle. Place the casserole into the large baking pan. Carefully pour the hot water into the large baking pan till it comes up to about half of the height of the casserole. BAKE in the oven , uncovered for about 60 mins or until a knife inserted midway into the centre and rim of the casserole comes out clean. Cool slightly and serve.

Note: I was serving a large crowd when I took the photos for this post. Hence, the recipe was doubled.

RECIPE

Serves: 6 persons

Ingredients

  • 5 Slices of pandan bread or milk bread
  • 1/4 cup candied pineapple bits
  • 75 gm gula malacca
  • 2 to 3 pandan leaves
  • Custard (total volume of liquid from ingredients below should measure 2 1/4 cups)
    • 3 large eggs, beaten
    • 200 ml of coconut santan
    • 200 ml full cream milk
    • 1/2 tsp coconut essence

Method:

Preparation

1. Gather all the required ingredients, a 1 1/2 quart corning ware and one large baking pan. Wash the pandan leaves and gently bruise them by scrunching with your hand, then cut them into smaller pieces for easy release of flavour.

2. Prepare the gula malacca syrup. Use a large chef’s knife, chop the gula malacca chunk into small bits. Add these bits into a small saucepan with 1/3 Cup water and pandan leaf pieces. Heat and stir contents over medium heat to make syrup. Cool for about 20 mins.

Making the Dessert

1. Grease the oven-proof casserole or disposable baking tray with softened butter. Butter one side of each slice of bread and cut each slice into quarters. Build layers of the buttered pieces of bread in the casserole, sprinkling the candied pineapple bits in between.

2.  Put the coconut cream and milk into a medium sized bowl. Strain the cooled syrup into this bowl. (don’t skip this straining step as some gula malacca blocks contain little bits of debris). Stir to mix well.

3.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs well with a fork but try to create as little foam as possible. Slowly add in the liquid from Step 2. Stir to mix well both well. This mixture is the liquid custard.

4. Pour the liquid custard mixture onto the prepared bread layers. Leave for an hour so that all the liquid is well absorbed by the bread pieces.

5. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Once the oven is at 180 C, boil about 1.8 litres of water in the kettle. Place the casserole into the large baking pan. Carefully pour the hot water into the large baking pan till it comes up to about half of the height of the casserole. BAKE in the oven , uncovered for about 60 mins or until a knife inserted midway into the centre and rim of the casserole comes out clean. Cool slightly and serve.

Optional

  1. Melt another 75 gm of chopped gula malacca with 1/4 cup of water, strain and drizzle it over the baked bread and butter pudding.
  2. Make a simple custard sauce using Bird’s custard powder, milk and sugar. 500 ml of custard will be sufficient. Instructions on how to make this custard may be found on the package.
  3. If you have more time to spare, I strongly urge you to serve your pudding with a banana sauce ( as shown in photo above).  Click here.
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