23 April 2015

Keeping up with the bread

Sometimes we just can't keep up with the bread. The bread lady — la porteuse de pain — comes by on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We buy what we want from her. We try to buy something every time she comes by, because bread delivery is a use-it-or-lose-it kind of service. We don't want the village baker to stop delivering bread.

Leftover baguette de tradition
Most days we opt for a traditional style baguette (we pay 1 €). Sometimes we choose an ordinary baguette (0.85 €), which comes in two styles: moulée or non-moulée. The first, cooked in a mold, is softer (plus tendre). The second, cooked directly on the stone or brick floor of of the bread oven, has a crunchier bottom crust. Once in a while we buy a pain, which is a larger loaf made in the same styles as the baguette ordinaire. Here's a post about the bread lady from 2007.

Every once in a while, we take stock and realize we have a ton of bread in the freezer. That's how we preserve the bread that's left over, because we seldom eat a whole baguette in one day. The frozen bread, thawed over an hour or two at room temperature and then briefly heated up in the oven, is perfectly good. That's what we have on Wednesdays, Sundays, and Mondays, the days when the bread lady doesn't drive up to the front gate and toot her horn for us to come out and buy a loaf. (She also sells croissants and other products, including sliced bread, butter, eggs, cheese, and newspapers.)

When we have way too much bread in the freezer, we sometimes tell the bread lady on Thursday, for example, that we won't need bread on Friday, so that she doesn't have to drive all the way up here just for us. We're her only customers in the hamlet where we live. Sometimes we'll tell her on Tuesday not to come back until Saturday. If we happen to be eating a lot of Chinese or Mexican food, as we are right now, we don't need French bread. Once in a while, we like to make sandwich buns to have with pulled pork or cornbread to have with other American-style food.

Frozen bread

Finally, sometimes we let the surplus French bread dry out and run it through the food processor to make bread crumbs that we can use on top of our gratin dishes. Or we cut it into cubes, toss them in olive oil or melted butter — sometimes with garlic — and toast them to make croûtons to have with soups and salads.

And sometimes we make bread pudding. That's what I did last week when I noticed a whole pain in a zip-top bag in the downstairs freezer. It was perfect for a good bread pudding with apples and walnuts in it. Here's the recipe.

Apple-Walnut Bread Pudding

5 cups soft bread cubes
½ cup walnut pieces
2 cups peeled and diced apples
¾ cup sugar
1¾ cups milk
½ cup melted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon (or mixed spice)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Butter a baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine bread, walnuts, and apples. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, milk, and butter. Cook and stir until butter is melted. Pour over bread mixture in bowl. Stir and let cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together spice, vanilla, and eggs. Stir into bread mixture, and then pour all into prepared dish.

Bake in preheated oven 40 to 50 minutes, or until center is set and apples are tender.

Note: a U.S. cup is eight fluid ounces.
Remember, real French bread contains only wheat flour, yeast, salt, and water. I like to make this bread pudding with what is called cassonade in French — raw sugar — not white refined sugar.


  1. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!
    Bread pudding...
    just building up stocks for the next...
    might go and buy a loaf deliberately, having read this....
    looks absolutely scrummy.....
    the one I make is the heavier British version in a square pan and cut into cubes and dusted with sugar...
    it also involves suet... this looks lighter, nearer a Bread&Butter pudding... a "must make"!
    Pauline knocked out a Rhubarb and Orange cake yesterday... so must wait for this...
    it was a very good way of making rhubarb go further!!

    1. Besides, it uses three eggs...
      now we have chickens we need new ways of egg usage!!
      We've gone from half-a-dozen a fortnight to...
      fourteen a week!!

    2. The bread pudding would be very good with rhubarb.

    3. The bread pudding would be very good with rhubarb.

    4. The bread pudding would be very good with rhubarb.

  2. Do you use raw sugar for most recipes? This looks so good- do you serve it with ice cream or a sauce?

    1. Evelyn, I do use raw sugar quite a lot. I like it in my tea in the morning. And I used raw sugar when we lived in California, the same way. As for ice cream or a sauce, or just a spoonful of crème fraîche, all that would be good with the bread pudding. But we just eat it plain.

  3. Pourrait-on dire que c'est une variante de pain perdu aux fruits?

    1. Je ne sais pas. Te souviens-tu que nous — moi au moins — avons pris comme dessert dans un petit restaurant au bord d'une route dans la Somme un délicieux gâteau fait avec du pain, des œufs, du lait et du sucre caramélisé ? C'était cette journée que nous avons passée avec David en visitant tous les cimetières de la guerre de 14-18.

    2. Oui, je me souviens bien du restaurant où David nous a invités, qui n'était pas celui qu'il avait prévu, car il était fermé. Celui où nous avons déjeuné était un genre routier. Je n'ai réellement pas le moindre souvenir de ce que nous avons mangé. Mais je sais que c'était très bon.

      La chef Togolaise du défunt restaurant devant chez moi, le Gallion, faisait un délicieux pain perdu aux fruits.

    3. I remember the restaurant Le Galion but, sadly, not the pain perdu aux fruits (bread pudding) there. I do remember the pain perdu at the roadside restaurant near
      Albert in the Somme because it was so delicious.

  4. I wish I had a bread lady to deliver fresh baked bread! That pudding looks delicious. Thanks for posting the recipe.

    1. The bread we freeze and then thaw and heat up afterwards is good, so you know how good the fresh stuff, made the same morning we get it delivered, must be.

  5. Drooling. First about fresh bread delivery, and then about your fabulous pudding!

  6. eh ben ça me donne faim,je remangerais bien

  7. That looks so good! And it just dawned on me that bread pudding is really like a kind of apple pie.

    If you get figs from the tree Walt wrote about, they'd be good with that, I'll bet.

  8. How lucky you are to have such problems! I remember different times when we lived in Europe and either had wonderful rolls and bread delivered or could buy them a few minutes away from where we were living. Such wonderful bread. Not to be had for love nor money in northeast Ohio unless one makes it oneself and I cannot make it as good as it was then.


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