I ADORE BREAD SAUCE. I have been known to devour nothing but bread sauce for dinner. It is a non-negotiable part of my festive meal, and if it's missing, Christmas may as well be CANCELLED in my world.
There are umpteen ways to make bread sauce, and only a handful of those ways are wrong. Most call for making breadcrumbs (either in a liquidiser, or by grating a stale or frozen loaf), but I find my days too short to spend them grating bread, so I follow the Nigella and Jamie method of simply tearing bread into chunks. Works a charm, and saves your festive manicure from premature ruination.
As for the other ingredients: add more bread if you want your sauce to be thicker, add more milk if you like it thinner. This is my best-ever bread sauce, but I want it to be yours too - so play around with the quantities until you get your perfect consistency and flavour.
Bread Sauce (serves 6-8)
You will need:
- 200g crustless stale white bread, torn into smallish pieces - a two-day-old loaf is perfect
- 1 litre full-fat milk
- 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and cut in half
- 4-6 cloves (Delia uses 15-18 cloves in her bread sauce! HARDCORE CLOVER!)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns, any colour
- A very small pinch of mustard powder (optional)
- A pinch of salt
- 40g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp double cream
- Freshly-ground pepper to taste
- 1 fresh nutmeg, grated, or 1-2 tsps ground nutmeg from a jar
- 2 bay leaves
- 2-3 fresh cranberries
- Another bloody clove
- Some of your grated or ground nutmeg from above
- Edible glitter (OH YEAH, I sprinkled glitter on my bread sauce)
- Gather your bread pieces and leave them on an uncovered plate or board to get a bit more stale. Stale is good here.
- While they do their thing, infuse the milk. Stud each onion half with cloves, and add them - along with the bay leaves, peppercorns, tiny pinch of mustard powder (if using), and salt - to a large saucepan containing aforementioned milk. Bring the whole lot just up to boiling point and remove from the heat. Cover with a lid and forget about it for anything from half an hour to several hours. Remember: the longer you leave it, the better it will taste. That sounded a little bit like a threat. IT WAS.
- Once the flavours have infused, place the pan on a very low heat and, as the milk is warming through, remove the clove-studded onion, bay leaves and peppercorns. Add the torn-up bread and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bread has swollen up and the sauce is looking thick and comforting.
- If you're serving immediately, now's the time to add the butter, cream, ground pepper, and about half the nutmeg, and stir well. If you're making the sauce in advance, wait to add these things after you've reheated it. Decant into your chosen receptacle.
- Do you want to decorate your bread sauce? Of course you do. I cut my extra bay leaves into a holly leaf shape with kitchen scissors, then arranged them artfully with the cranberries and clove to resemble Actual Holly (not our Holly, although you could recreate her in bay leaves if you want). Not content with my holly-star-glitter ratio, I then made a nutmeg star by sprinkling my remaining nutmeg through a star-shaped cookie cutter, and finished up with a hefty dusting of edible glitter. I may perish of festive.