A man in a gorilla suit.
Whatever you choose to call it, the hairy beast is on my mind these days. Not because I live a mere 150 miles from Ape Canyon, WA, the site of a 1924 alleged bigfoot sighting. (Hilarious and definitely a bit creepy.)
This monster has been on my mind because I’m getting excited about this year’s National Homebrewers Conference, held this June right here in our beautiful city! The theme is “Brewin’ with Bigfoot” and I’m happy to say I’ve seen a man in a gorilla suit at more than one homebrew event in the past year. My homebrew club has been working hard on some devious plans for our booth construction, and I’m trying to come up with snack ideas.
I’ve been distracted with this bread pudding idea for a good while now, so I figured I’d just go for it. Bigfoot is a great choice for bread pudding. I chose to use this year’s vintage. It really makes this dessert something special.
Style: American Barleywine. To me, the notable difference between an American Barleywine and an English Barleywine is hop flavor and hop bitterness. The English ones are more malt-forward, and things like roasted barley and/or chocolate malt make for most of the bitter notes. The American Barleywines really celebrate the hop bitterness, and the fresh ones tend to pack a punch when it comes to hop flavor. The malt is there, too, of course. With some time on it, this style will develop some dried fruit and sherry flavors. Mr. Beerfordessert and I store a few bottles in the cellar every year for future enjoyment.
Tasting notes: Bigfoot 2012 definitely has a toffee-like flavor from the malt bill. That makes it a perfect choice for bread pudding. The hops definitely represent the Northwest: piney, a bit earthy, and citrusy. I also detect a bit of a raisin and dried fruit flavor in there.
Other beers that would be appropriate:
Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws: This is a great example of an American Barleywine brewed with Northwest hops. I also know for a fact that Hair of the Dog makes their own version of bread pudding with this, served at the tasting room in Portland. I haven’t tried it, but the beer is good, and the food is always excellent. Probably because Alan Sprints, the brewer-owner is also a chef and knows his stuff!
Full Sail Old Boardhead: This is an old favorite of mine. I’ve made caramel ice cream with cellared vintages in the past, so I’m confident it will be great in this dessert.
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask): I chose the whisky cask version because that is the one I enjoyed most recently. The depth of malt flavor, smokiness, and sherry notes make it especially well-suited to the rich custard and toasty bread flavors in this treat.
The pastry recipes:
Before we jump into the recipes, let’s talk a bit about bread pudding. When embarking on this project, I started out by doing a bit of research on the topic. I’ll admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of the powerful richness of this dessert, so I don’t have a great deal of experience making or eating it. My research comes mostly from an old textbook from pastry school: Bo Friberg’s The Professional Pastry Chef. Friberg’s recipes rarely let me down, and this item is no exception.
Bread pudding was historically a great use for old, stale bread (and still is). Just soak dried bread cubes in a rich custard, mix with whatever nuts and dried fruit you have laying around, bake, and Ta-da! An incredibly rich dessert that can satisfy you with just a few bites.
It turns out there’s another style of bread pudding that explodes with even more flavor (fat) called Bread and Butter pudding. You butter some slices of bread, toast them to golden-brown, layer them with nuts and dried fruit, and soak the whole thing in a custard overnight before baking. Oh, and you pour on some heavy cream after the soak for good measure.
That is what I’ve decided to make. I’m going for broke here and holding nothing back. This bread and butter pudding is exploding with richness and Bigfoot.
I had some chocolate malt laying around from a recent homebrewing project so I decided to crush that up a bit and mix it with the nuts and dried fruit in the filling for good measure. Cocoa nibs would be a nice touch if you’re not a homebrewer.
Cover it in a gooey Bigfoot caramel sauce and garnish it with Bigfoot whipped cream. Do not be afraid. This will not disappoint you.
Bigfoot Bread and Butter Pudding with Chocolate Malt
(makes enough to fill a square 8 or 9 inch pan)
|1 ea||16 oz loaf Challah|
|4 T (2 oz)||melted butter|
|¼ C + 1 T (3 oz)||granulated sugar|
|6 T (3 oz)||melted butter|
|½ t||vanilla extract|
|½ C (4 oz)||whole milk|
|¾ C + 1 T (6.5 oz)||Sierra Nevada Bigfoot|
|1 C + (8 oz)||heavy cream|
|½ C each (2 oz)||dried cranberries and almonds|
|2 T (0.5 oz)||chocolate malt, crushed|
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice your Challah into ~ 1-inch slices, brush each side of the slices with melted butter (the 4 T above ought to do it, with a little bit left over to butter your baking dish) and toast until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Brush the remaining melted butter on the bottom and sides of your square baking dish.
2. While the bread is toasting and cooling, prepare the custard. Whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl. Add the 3 oz of melted butter and whisk to combine. Add the milk, Bigfoot, and nutmeg (I actually don’t measure the nutmeg – I either grab a pinch or do a quick grate of fresh nutmeg on my microplane) and whisk to combine.
3. When the toast is cool, cut the pieces into rectangular shapes and arrange in a snug layer in the bottom of the dish. Pour half the custard over the top, and then half of the heavy cream. Sprinkle the almonds, dried cranberries, and chocolate malt over this layer. (I crushed my chocolate malt up in my food processor for a bit, first.)
4. Arrange the remaining toast squares over the top in a second snug layer. Pour the rest of the custard over the top, but not the rest of the cream (we’re saving that for last). Put some parchment paper over the top of the pudding and add a plate with some weights to keep everything submerged (I used some extra bottles of Bigfoot). Soak overnight in the refrigerator (preferred) or at least two hours at room temp.
5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Pour the remaining cream on top of the pudding. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes. The pudding will puff and get golden brown on top. When it is done it will be set (uniformly jiggly across the whole thing).
6. Allow to cool to room temp. You can cut this into squares or flip it out and cut it into circles like I did.
Serve with the caramel sauce from this post (made with Bigfoot), and Bigfoot whipped cream (½ C of cream whipped with 2 T powdered sugar and either 2 T of Bigfoot or 2 T of the Bigfoot caramel).
This better be the end of winter around these parts, and I’m hoping this bread pudding was enough to satisfy our winter cravings. I’m ready for spring, so I’ll be baking up something loaded with the promise of brighter days for my next project.