There are certain aromas that take me back to my early childhood and to Tehran. Golaab or rosewater is one of the biggest triggers. Smelling the smallest amount of this aromatic powerhouse reminds me of so many different memories, from sneaking a diamond shaped Persian Baklava from my Maman’s silver pastry plate, to the sweet and gooey rose jam that my Maman bozorg would take all day making.
She would painstakingly un-pluck each petal with her delicate freckle flecked hands, and simmer them to perfection on a low and gentle flame till the petals would become translucent and melt together with the blush toned sticky syrup. The next morning I would enthusiastically bring it out from the fridge for sobhaneh (breakfast) to be consumed with Tabriz cheese and the ever comforting and golden baked Barbari bread, fresh from the corner bakery.
Some days I yearn for the familiar smell just so I can recollect and reflect on those days but being a novice baker, there are not many golaab infused recipes in my repertoire that I feel would do the fragrant elixir justice. That is why I decided to tackle a bread pudding. It is delicate enough that it would welcome fragrant ingredients quite nicely. Maybe not so much within the pudding itself, but as syrup, it can do wonders.
I started with the outrageously delicious eggy bread, Challah. This braided bread serves as a lovely foundation for the bread pudding and soaks up the egg mixture quite nicely, especially if it is day old. I infuse the eggs with some green cardamom powder and almond extract and throw in some raisins to bulge and plump up while I make the syrup that will bring it all together.
It is an incredibly easy sauce; simply throw together golden honey, vibrant lime zest, as well as the juice, and finally the star ingredient, golaab. Let them bubble a bit and set aside to cool. By now the lime zest has become candied in the yummy syrup, and ready to be poured.
|Challah: I couldn't help tearing off a piece!|
I promise you that you are going to adore this recipe. It is as comforting as any food can get and for some of us out there, it might just bring back beautiful old memories of days gone by.
1 Challah loaf (or any eggy bread will do)
6 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp almond extract
4 cups milk
½ cup raisins
1/3 cup almond slivers
1 cup honey
¼ cup rose water
zest of one lime
juice of one lime (lemon or orange work beautifully if you do not have limes on hand)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the Challah in 1-inch cubes.
Spray or butter a 9 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish.
Place the Challah cubes in the baking dish.
In a bowl, add the whole eggs, egg yolks, milk, cardamom powder, almond extract and sugar. Whisk together. Add the raisins last.
Pour this mixture over the Challah cubes.
Set aside for 10 minutes so the bread soaks up the custard.
Scatter the sliced almonds over the top of the pudding.
Place the dish into a larger pan and add boiling water to the larger pan until it's halfway up the side of the baking dish.
Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil.
Bake the pudding for 45 minutes.
Uncover and bake for 45 more minutes, until the custard is set and the pudding and almonds are light golden brown.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
For the syrup, add the honey, rose water, zest, and lime juice together and boil for a sec on high heat and turn off to cool. Pour over cooled bread pudding.
Photo Credit for Barbari Bread: