Pudding on the Ritz

[Recipe 1] ORANGE AND CURRANT GREEK EASTER BREAD (Tsourekia) with VANILLA RICOTTA transforms into
[Recipe 2] ‘GOLDEN ROUGH’ (chocolate coconut) BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING
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Melbourne’s weather has finally cooled and kick-started a baking frenzy at our house, including pesto pizza and Greek Easter bread.
Greek Easter bread is a lovely eggy brioche, similar to challah. It traditionally features dyed red eggs pushed in the dough, and mahlepi (ground spice from the pips of wild cherries). I usually buy it from Hellas (a gorgeous Greek bakery in Richmond, established in 1962). Their Easter bread is available for two weeks of the year only, and it’s fabulous.
My home-made version is a rather yummy orange/currant combo. It’s completely delicious sliced thickly while still warm, and spread with vanilla ricotta.
This bread is incredibly easy to make. My boys love helping with the kneading and plaiting (photo here). The only time-consuming part is waiting for the dough to prove as it requires two risings – it’s definitely a weekend activity.
I modified a recipe on taste.com.au, using half plain (all purpose) and half self-raising (self-rising) flour instead of all self-raising (yeast is a raising agent, so self-raising flour seems unnecessary). I also added orange zest and currants, omitted the caraway seeds (not such a nice pairing with orange) and swapped the allspice for cinnamon.
This recipe makes two loaves. The other can be set aside (or frozen) as planned-overs, and used for my Golden rough bread n’ butter pudding. Golden Rough is a classic Aussie chocolate treat, basically a round disk of chocolate, studded with roasted coconut, available at Milk Bars and petrol stations around the country. To put you in the picture, there is a photo of one on the 1=2 Facebook page. Coconut and gooey molten chocolate are heavenly in a Bread n’ butter pudding. I’ve used smashed chocolate Easter eggs – a great way to use up some of the excess chocolate you’ll no doubt have lingering in your house around Easter. I hesitate to use the term ‘leftover Easter eggs’ though. I saw a recipe recently that called for ‘leftover wine’ – I mean really, what on earth is leftover wine?
Happy Easter folks!

Greek Easter bread with vanilla ricotta[Recipe 1] Orange and currant Greek Easter bread with vanilla ricotta

Ingredients (makes 2 loaves: 1 plain, 1 orange and currant):
250 grams (8 oz/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup (215g) caster sugar
1½ cups (375ml) warmed milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Pinch of salt
1½ tablespoons (3 sachets/21g) dried yeast
5 cups (750g) plain (all-purpose) flour
4 cups (600g) self-raising (self-rising) flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Olive oil, to grease
2 teaspoons finely chopped orange zest
¼ cup currants
Glaze:
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg yolk
Vanilla ricotta:
½1 tablespoon caster sugar (to taste)
250g (½ lb) tub ricotta (or 250g fresh ricotta + 1 tablespoon milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or one vanilla bean, split and scraped)

Make the vanilla ricotta by whisking ingredients with a stick blender until completely smooth. Refrigerate until required.
Combine the melted butter, sugar and 1 cup (250 ml) of the warm milk in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the eggs and salt until combined.
Combine yeast and remaining warm milk in a bowl, stir to remove lumps, and allow to stand for 8–10 minutes, until frothy. Add the yeast mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Gradually add the flour and cinnamon. Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined, then use your hands to bring dough together.
Dust your work surface with flour, and knead dough for 15 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
First rising:
Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap (or a lid) and rest in a warm place for 2 hours (or up to 3 hours), until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough with your fist. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10–15 minutes, until smooth. Divide the dough in half. To one portion add the orange zest and currants, and lightly fold dough over a couple of times to enclose. Set dough balls aside for 10 minutes to rest.
Line two baking trays with baking paper. Divide each dough ball into 3 equal portions (6 portions total) and roll each portion into a 35cm (13″) long log. Place 3 dough logs side by side on a prepared tray and plait. Tuck ends under the loaf. Repeat with remaining dough to make another loaf.
You can find photos of the process at the bottom of this page.
Second rising:
Cover plaited loaves with a damp, well squeezed-out, tea towel. Set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until almost double in size.
Meanwhile make the glaze by whisking together the milk and egg yolk.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Brush the tops of the loaves with prepared glaze. Bake in oven for 35–40 minutes or until bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
Reserve one loaf Greek Easter bread (the plain version) for the Golden Rough bread and butter pudding.
Serve the Orange and currant Greek Easter bread sliced thickly with vanilla ricotta.
[Recipe adapted from taste.com]

  • Greek Easter bread is best eaten immediately, while still warm. Leftovers can be toasted and served with butter. The planned-over loaf (for the bread and butter pudding) can be stored for up to two days in an airtight container, or frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight at room temperature.

Vintage wooden egg cupsChocolate and coconut bread and butter pudding

[Recipe 2] ‘Golden Rough’ bread and butter pudding

Ingredients (serves 4–6):
1 x reserved plain loaf Greek Easter bread, crust and base removed, thickly sliced
60 grams (2 oz/½ stick) butter, softened, for spreading
3 good-quality hen-sized hollow chocolate Easter eggs, broken into pieces
¼ cup dessicated coconut
3 large eggs
3 cups milk
½ cup (100g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Lightly butter each slice of bread on one side.
Cut each slice into strips, about 2cm (¾”) wide.
Lightly grease a lasagna-sized baking dish. Lay one or two bread strips at one end to ‘prop up’ the first layer. Layer the remaining bread strips, slightly overlapping.
Push chocolate pieces down between the bread strips here and there (they’ll melt better if they’re slightly buried). Scatter with coconut.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla extract. 
Pour egg mixture over the bread slices. Push down lightly to help the bread absorb the liquid, and allow to stand for 5–10 minutes.
Place into the preheated oven and bake for 35–40 minutes, until puffed and golden.
Serve immediately.

  • It’s important to use good-quality Easter eggs (not compound chocolate!), with a minimum of 30% cocoa solids.
  • Leftover pudding is surprisingly fine re-heated the next day. Cover with cling-film (or a lid) and microwave on high for about 45 seconds–1 minute.