When the Guardian invited their readers to take part in a recipe swap on the topic of ‘butter’, I couldn’t think of any of my recipes that didn’t use any butter (some use lard, though …). I therefore came up with a linguistic link, via bread and butter pudding, which in Germany always contains fruit: apples make it an Ofenschlupfer (‘slips into the oven’), or a Kirschenmichel (‘cherry Mike’ – don’t ask!) if you are using morello cherries.
When I was small we had quite a few cherry trees, over ten of them bearing sour cherries and only one tree with sweet cherries, which you could eat straight from the tree. In fact, we probably spent an entire month each year on that tree, often with friends, munching cherries to our hearts’ content. The reason for this tree imbalance was that the sour morello-type cherries could be preserved easily and be used all year round for a wide range of cakes and desserts. Their slightly sour taste contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of a sponge, such as in a Black Forest Gateau, or in this old-fashioned recipe which uses the cherries to hide the fact that you are only trying to use up stale bread.
I loved Kirschenmichel as a child, we had it for lunch, with loads of custard. Occasionally you’d bite on a stone which had escaped my mum’s vigorous pitting process, and that meant we had a wish. No such luck with the cherries you can buy in Polish delis or Aldi and Lidl: they have been carefully screened so you teeth are safe!
Kirschenmichel: Bread and Butter Pudding with Cherries (serves 4-6)
- 3/4 of a slightly stale baguette or similar
- 3 eggs
- 375ml milk
- 60g unsalted butter, softened
- 100g sugar
- 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
- the grated peel of 1/2 lemon
- 1 jar (350g) cherries in syrup, drained
- some butter for greasing the form
- some breadcrumbs for the form
Start by cutting the bread into thin slices which you soak in the slightly warmed milk.
Heat the oven to 160C and grease an ovenproof dish with butter, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs onto the butter to prevent the pudding from sticking to the edges.
Separate the eggs and beat the whites until it forms soft peaks. In a separate bowl, beat the butter with the yolks, the sugar, the cinnamon and lemon peel until creamy.
Carefully fold in the cherries and the egg whites and pour the mix into the ovenproof dish. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour – if necessary, cover with tinfoil to prevent it from drying out.
Serve it hot or cold but always with fresh custard – the fact that you are using up otherwise unusable bread will offset the amount of butter and sugar you are consuming …
This dish always takes me back to when I was little – the mix of sweet and sour is so typical for our puddings. Do you have any particular flavours or ingredients that remind you of your childhood? I’d love to hear all about it!