If, like me, you had frozen a fruit cake from Christmas in the freezer, now’s the time to use it or lose it. I pride myself on my ability to wrap baked goods so that they don’t suffer from freezer burn, but even I have my limits. Surprisingly, many commercial fruit cakes don’t contain butter. I don’t know if that’s because the cakes they are based on were made with lard (love you Christmas pudding!) or because the other ingredients are so expensive that commercial bakeries can’t afford to use butter, but it’s a fact, so read your wrappers and revel in the dairy-free-ness of this, the most reviled of desserts. I actually like fruit cake and it’s every bit as good (or disgusting, depending on your perspective) thawed from a deep freeze as it was the day it was born. On the other hand, bread pudding is a delightful dessert and I haven’t ever made it at home, shockingly. I always make croutons with my stale bread because it’s almost always some type of local sourdough (Cheeseboard baguettes are my favorite but Acme Walnut Levain comes in a close second) and neither of those breads is particularly pudding-friendly in my opinion.
From just plain bread pudding my thoughts strayed to bread pudding muffins because let’s face it, everything is cuter in muffin form.
Whilst researching a recipe, I came across this brilliant site chock full of recipes that involve Guinness. I didn’t use any of them (it says you need to at least simulate Guinness from the tap — in Ireland no less) but I’m hanging on to it nonetheless. I loved the sound of the Irish soda bread pudding and the dark chocolate honey sauce. I reserve the right to revisit the site for inspiration when I attempt a dairy-free Welsh rarebit in the future.
I found a recipe at last, but in typical me fashion, by the time I’m done it’s going to be so bastardized, its own mother wouldn’t recognize it. Also, everybody’s recycled fruit cake into pudding recipes were almost exactly alike…I’m not sure if this revokes their copyright or not! I’m touchy on this issue this week because a Chinese spam blog hijacked my last entry. Due props to Google for removing it speedily when I filed a complaint (the spam blog — or Splog — I’m not making that up! was on Blogger). Also worth a mention, the entry on Chowhound about all of things you can do to recycle fruitcake, including, but not restricted to, cooking with it.
No Lactose Fruit Cake Bread Pudding & Muffins
very loosely adapted from “The Best of Better Baking.com”
About 2 to 2.5 cups of cut up fruitcake
2 cups of almond or other “safe” milk
4 large eggs
2/3 cup of granulated sugar
6 tablespoons of melted Earth Balance, plus a tablespoon more to grease the muffin tin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup regular flour
A pinch of sea salt or a 1/2 teaspoon of regular salt
Preheat your oven to 350.
Cut up your fruitcake and soak in the “milk” overnight or a minimum of three hours.
Melt Earth Balance and set aside to cool. Lightly beat eggs separately and then add all ingredients to wet fruitcake mixture, careful not to over beat.
Pour into well-greased muffin tins (filling about 3/4 full — they will not rise) and bake 20 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick to the centers comes out clean and tops appear set. Yields 12 large muffins.
This recipe was more bread pudding than muffin, so as an alternative, I mixed the second half of the batter with a 1/2 cup more flour and 1 tablespoon baking soda. If you’re making the muffin-ier version, these WILL rise, so allow some room in your baking cups.
The bread pudding version is best served heated, with a scoop of lactose-free Breyer’s ice cream. Even coconut milk ice cream from Luna & Larry‘s (the best, in my opinion, of the fake ice cream substitutes) can’t touch a scoop of actual ice cream with the lactose squeezed out. As far as I can tell, at this point, Breyer’s only does it with vanilla though. A tragedy!