Savoury caprese bread & butter pudding


If I say "Fat Duck" or "Heston Blumenthal", what is the first specific dish that springs to mind?  I'd bet my bottom dollar it's either egg and bacon ice cream of snail porridge.  The question is why these two dishes in particular have so grabbed the public's imagination.

I don't think it's that either of them is a particularly radical dish in terms of taste.  OK, the ice cream is probably the more radical of the two because of the idea of a salty breakfast dish in your ice cream.  But wait – pretty much all ice cream contains eggs – this one just contains a few more.  And as for the salty bacon – how is ice cream with a salty meat flavour so very different from ice cream with a salty caramel flavour?  Salted butter caramel ice cream, anybody?  Sounds less peculiar when you think about it that way, doesn't it? Aaah, but what about the freaky snail porridge, you ask?  Well, would it make you feel better if I told you it was snails served on an oat risotto?  Probably – and that's pretty much what it is!

You see, the thing that makes these dishes seem so radical is not the taste – it's the playing around with our entrenched expectations.  The chef knows that you expect eggs and bacon to be part of a savoury dish; and that you expect your morning porridge to be sweet and spicy or fruity.  So the shock reaction that these dishes generate has more to do with what's going on in our brains than in our tastebuds.

The first dishes I ate like these that play around with expectations were chocolate spring rolls at Wickerwoods restaurant in Port Elizabeth and a chocolate and rosemary dessert soup at the lovely Bestial in Barcelona.  And what can I say – I was hooked on the idea.  But so far the only dish I've made along these lines is a savoury tarte tatin.  Everybody expected a dessert and I presented them with a vegetable side dish.  Voila!

I've always wanted to do more dishes like this – maybe a vegetable clafoutis; or some fruit soups; or savoury sorbets; or a pizza with a chocolatey topping… and this month's Waiter, There's Something in My… event gave me the perfect opportunity to experiment!  Sadly, though, you all seem to think that the theme is too challenging, judging by the number of entries I've received :( It's not – really, I promise!!  Just look at all the suggestions I've given you!  I am going to feel slightly foolish doing a roundup of fewer than 10 entries, so in the hope that my effort has inspired you, I'm going to extend the deadline to Friday 6 February. Please do join in – I promise you it's easier than you think. 

I managed it – and I'm the Queen of Lazy!

This savoury bread and butter pudding is based around the idea of using the flavours of a classic Italian caprese salad of tomato, mozzarella and basil, but incorporating them into an eggy bake with thick slices of white bread.  The end result was a resounding hit – kind of like a pizza casserole, with crispy bread on top and eggy, cheesy goodness mixing with the concentrated tomato and basil flavours below.  Nick has voted that I make it again and if that isn't a vote of confidence I don't know what is :)





4-6 thick slices of day-old white bread
1 large ball of mozzarella cheese, sliced
2 ripe plum (or about 8 baby plum) tomatoes, sliced
a handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
3 large or 4 small eggs
150ml milk or single cream
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried oregano


Pre-heat the oven to 190C and lightly grease 1 large or 2 small (about 10cm x 10cm) ovenproof dishes.

Butter the bread on one side only and cut each slice into 4 triangles.  Cover the base of the dish with overlapping triangles of bread, buttered side down, with the bread points pointing slightly upwards.  

Tuck tomato and mozzarella slices in between the slices of bread and sprinkle with half the basil.  Season with salt and black pepper.

Add another layer of bread, this time with the buttered side facing up and repeat the step above to add the tomato, mozzarella, basil and seasoning.  

Whisk together the eggs, milk/cream and oregano and pour over the bread layers as evenly as possible.  

Place on a baking sheet in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the egg mix has set and the top is beginning to brown.  

Serve immediately with a big green salad.  This would also make a fantastic vegetarian main course for a dinner party – although you'll have to fight off the meat eaters! 

If you enjoyed reading this, please consider sharing it using the social media buttons below the post. I'd also love to hear what you thought about this post so please do leave a comment below. Hope to see you again soon!

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  1. says

    Oh, you meant 6 February right? Anyway, it’s so difficult to join these days as I’m away from my kitchen!
    It’s tough to imagine tomatoes in custard but I have to admit it does look mighty tasty!

  2. says

    Ah ha…, I thought so
    You came up with delicious sounding recipe. I can picture myself eating this in front of fire place, and talking with my husband about my days….
    For him, hmmm this is tough. He doesn’t like anything custardy type of food.
    Well done Jeanne.

  3. says

    I don’t think I’m brave enough to try egg and bacon ice cream of snail porridge. :) But I would love at least two servings of your lovely bread pudding.

  4. says

    I have savoury bread and butter pudding on my to do list – this one looks good! I will think about if I can get inspired to make something over this week – my main problem is the heat which limits what can be done – have made strawberry soup which was fantastic and also am in love with chocolate pizza! But you are giving me some food for thought now

  5. says

    have no idea what happen, but I couldn’t submit my entry to your e-mail address. I’ve tried to send it twice, Friday and Saturday.

  6. says

    I like the idea of a savory bread and butter pudding….I prefer it to the traditional “paptert” that adorns many a SA “braai” menu! A warm Caprese…I like it a lot!

  7. says

    Wow – this looks great, Jeanne! Maybe I will give this theme a go – jsut a bit more imagination needed on my part! I did think of trying a sweet quiche for WTSIM yesterday, but didn’t have any cream, so maybe I will try to do it before Friday!

  8. Audrey says

    Try French bread sliced and buttered, interlaced with slices of camembert or brie then savoury custard. I’ve wanted to try it with green fig preserve included.

  9. says

    glorious pictures and great idea!!! i am so glad you’re extending the deadline… i have made mine, but what with the children being sick last week and london drowning in snow, i can do with some more time! what is it with england that everything grinds to a halt at the first sign of snow?grantedm it’s chucked out over 20 cm overnight, but still… we have that in austria 4 months a year at least and life DOES go on and the kids DO go to school (much to their discontent)! have been making snowmen today, had a snow fight (chris in pjs… picture that!) and can’t wait now to make some goulash soup to enjoy in front of the fireplace!!!

  10. Wendy T says

    Hi Jeanne, That looks very good, even for me who has a mental block against bread and butter pudding! Have a great week:)

  11. says

    Pink Monkey is bug-eyed looking at the picture of your bread pudding! Two of her favorite things – tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella sandwiches and bread pudding. How could two soulmates intertwine better?
    Monkey’s going to make this for her partner in monkey crime on his birthday in two weeks. He loves cheese. Pink Monkey loves cheese. Cheese is an expression of love.

  12. says

    Time ran away with me, I had everything planned for my Mango Soup with Coconut bread-sticks, but…it will have to wait until the next round!
    Sorry I missed out :(

  13. says

    You only have to tell me one thing – this has no calories….ok?
    That whole Heston Blumenthal episode was hilarious. Do you remember the look on his face when the duck expanded to incredible proportion. I’m still laughing.

  14. says

    hello ms. jeanne! happiest of new years to you. this looks sinfully delicious, and definitely diet-busting worthy (in moderate proportions, of course :))

  15. Christina Nevin says

    Awesome idea! I think I might give this a whirl – definitely the weather for it.
    Sorry I haven’t been in touch recently. Xmas and RL have been hectichectichectic!