Here’s one of the best ways I know of for using leftover pound cake, or extra plum or figgy pudding, or both. I’ve adapted this from Mary Jewry’s “Warne’s Model Cookery and House-keeping Book,” published in 1879 (available to everyone via Google Books), with help of Ross Rowlett’s “Dictionary of Units of Measurements” -- for figuring out what a “wineglassful” means today. Like so many desserts, this makes a great breakfast, too. Enjoy! ;o) —AntoniaJames
1 pound leftover plum pudding or pound cake, or some of each (See note below, if using just pound cake.)
Butter for the baking dish
½ cup + 2 tablespoons brandy
2 cups whole milk
One long strip of lemon zest. (Use a peeler, trying to avoid the bitter pith beneath the yellow peel. Grated zest will result in considerably stronger lemon notes, if that's to your liking.)
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
5 eggs, or four whole eggs + 2 yolks
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For sprinkling on top: 1 tablespoon raw sugar mixed with a dash of cinnamon
First, make the custard. You can do this the night before you plan to bake the pudding, or 1-2 hours before. Heat the milk with the lemon zest and the nutmeg until very hot to the touch (i.e., you want to pull your finger out right away), but not yet simmering.
Whisk the eggs with the sugar in a medium bowl until frothy. Add a few tablespoons of the hot milk, whisking all the while. Add a few more tablespoons, continuing to whisk, and then slowly pour in the rest of the milk, still whisking. Strain the custard through a sieve into a bowl or large liquid measuring cup. If doing this ahead of time, cool to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. If making the custard at the same time as you plan to make the pudding, let it rest for an hour or so to infuse the lemon flavor.
Shortly before you plan to bake the pudding: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a baking dish of a size that will fit into a larger baking dish with at least an inch around the edges.
Cut the leftover pudding or cake into narrow strips; put 1/3 in the bottom of the dish and douse well with 1/3 of the brandy. Put two more layers down, each perpendicular to the layer below it; douse each layer with the remaining brandy.
Remove the strip of lemon peel from the custard. Add the vanilla, stir to blend thoroughly, and pour it over the strips of cake. Mix together the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and a few light dashes of cinnamon. Sprinkle all over the top of the custard. Cover the dish tightly with foil.
Put the pudding dish into the larger baking dish and set it on the middle shelf of the oven. Pour hot water carefully into the bottom of the baking dish so it comes halfway up the side of the dish holding the pudding. Cover the entire thing with foil, crimping tightly around the edges of the larger baking dish. Let cook in the oven for an hour. The pudding should be slightly jiggle-y in the middle, as it will continue to cook once you remove it.
If making this just with pound cake, consider adding a few dried cherries, dried cranberries or yellow raisins to the baking dish, scattered around the pieces of cake, before pouring in the custard
Also, keep in mind that an ordinary store-bought pound cake will work just fine for this.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)