This week's cake-of-the-week is another very long recipe--if you count in the brioche pages, it rivals the charlotte. This recipe, however, was a little easier to take in stages, and in fact had some of that built in.
I made the brioche the week ahead and froze it. No difficulties there (I bake bread regularly, so no yeast trauma or anything)--as the recipe says, it's a nicely behaved dough. It seemed a little odd to not be making the classic brioche shape with the little topknots, though. I allowed myself one piece of the warm loaf (yum!) before I let it cool and got it into the freezer.
To start on the pudding cakes, then, the first step was to defrost the bread, cut an approximate chunk, and remove the crusts before weighing out the required 200 grams. It then needed to dry out some for better absorbing of the crème anglaise. I started that process at room temperature, and at the end helped it along in a low oven. I managed one lovely breakfast of brioche french toast with part of the leftover bread before the rest was snagged by older niece for a sandwich. It's bad to be reminded how lovely homemade brioche is and how easy it is to make, when it's also so high-calorie. At least when you're trying to get your weight back down. If I could just be sure that the nieces would abscond with most of the loaf, I'd make brioche more often.
Next up was the crème anglaise, a thin custard sauce that I'm not sure I'd made before, though I've made similar custards. The crème anglaise got poured into a flat dish, then the dried bread cubes were sprinkled over it to soak overnight. Here was another nice break point for the long recipe.
The next morning I started on the caramel and the pineapple. (I had peeled and quartered the pineapple the night before as another means of spreading out the effort.) First thing was to figure out which dishes to use. I didn't have exactly the right size ramekins, so I went with a smaller size than called for and made 8 pudding cakes, not 6. With the ramekins at the ready, it was time to make a light caramel sauce by cooking sugar, then adding butter. This made far more caramel that I could imagine using even in my 8 dishes, so most of it was thrown out. The caramel layer that did go into the souffle dishes mostly stayed there--as I turned out the desserts, the pudding cake and the pineapple slices (mostly) came out, but the caramel crust remained. It also seemed very sugary and was hard--not the right texture to top the delicate pudding cake and roasted pineapple. Should it have made a liquid caramel sauce and poured out over the puddings? Oh well, I left it in the dishes and we didn't miss it--the pineapple topping was all that was needed. (And I see that most of the other HCBs had similar problems, leading to the conclusion that perhaps something's not right in the recipe.)
Roasting the pineapple involved making another caramel, this time with turbinado sugar and using a skillet that would eventually hold the pineapple pieces. When the caramel reached the correct temperature, in went a can of pineapple juice and 2 pineapple quarters. That got stirred around, then the whole thing went in the oven to roast until the sauce was reduced and the pineapple was soft. Let me just say that the roasted pineapple alone would make a lovely dessert, perhaps cutting back on the amount of caramel roasting sauce--there was more than was needed to baste the pineapple and later to garnish the finished cakes.
The pineapple came out of the oven and was cooled, then sliced thinly to make a decorative layer (to become the top once the cakes were turned out) in the ramekins. Then in went the brioche soaked in crème anglaise, and the dishes went into the oven in a water bath.
I needed to hold these half a day, so I cooled them on a rack once the baking time was over, then put them into the fridge. Reheated in a water bath, the cakes rose a little above the edges of the dishes, perhaps because I got a full foil cover over them the second time around, perhaps because they just cooked more. (The recipe said 'tent with foil' and I'd used a loose sheet during the initial baking.)
The little remaining crème anglaise (only a quarter cup, not the half Rose mentioned) was cooked until slightly thickened. The cakes unmolded without problems except for the aforementioned caramel crusts, then were garnished with leftover roasted pineapple and drizzled with a little crème anglaise and some leftover roasting juices from the pineapple.
All in all, the pineapple pudding cakes are a very nice dessert, and might be possible (with some shortcuts) to make again. The smaller size (especially with more roasted pineapple on the side) was just right for us. Younger niece (who'd been looking ahead at this recipe and thought she wouldn't like it at all) tried a small bite, and pronounced it as not having much of a flavor. A few minutes later, as the rest of us praised the flavor combination, she took another bite from her father's serving. Another 5 minutes or so and she asked me to get her a full cake. I suspect none of us would have picked this recipe out of the book as something we'd really like, but there certainly were no bites of cake left on the plates at the tasting.