Pain d’chien

For years I've been intrigued by food from the very north of France, specifically around la Côte d'Opale. In part because, even in France, it's a cuisine that's often unfairly dismissed as consisting largely of variants of cheese on toast (Le Welsh), frites and mind-numbingly smelly cheeses such as Maroilles (it's actually a very fine cheese, honest). But the other reason was that the area is separated from the southern part of England by a very narrow stretch of sea and I was fascinated by the similarities and differences between the two styles of cooking.

I've included a number of recipes that I've gathered from the area in the blog before such as Carbonade Flamande, Turkey with Beer and Juniper, Tarte au Maroilles and, my absolute favourite, Gâteau Battu. But the pain d'chien perfectly demonstrates the similarities between British and northern French food. If you're familiar with British bread pudding then pain d'chien is not surprising at all. In fact, as if to emphasise the similarity, it's also often known as ‘Pudding au pain’ or even simply ‘Le Pudding’. Just as in Britain it's a frugal and no-waste way of using leftover bread or brioche (anti-gaspi as our French friends might put it). I just love it made with brioche that's a little past its best.

Pain d’chien
Some aspects of this recipe are a little different to classic British bread pudding. For instance, sometimes apples are added either chopped or as a compote (admittedly, I have seen this occasionally in Kent too) and rum is often used to soak the dried fruit. Of course, you don't have to use rum, another spirit or  liqueur (Grand Marnier, for instance), fruit juice or even water could be substituted. Personally, I love the rum in this.

100g raisins

4 tbsp rum, or whatever soaking liquid you prefer

300g leftover brioche (or white bread) cut or torn into small pieces

600ml milk, full fat or semi-skimmed

80g golden caster sugar

25g butter

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 tbsp apple purée

2 tbsp demerara sugar

Soak the raisins in the rum (or an alternative) overnight or, at least, for several hours.

Put the brioche bits in a heatproof bowl. Heat the milk, butter, caster sugar and vanilla together, stirring to combine, until nearly boiling. Pour over the brioche and mix in very thoroughly. Set aside somewhere cool for an hour or two.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan).

Add the eggs, apple purée and raisins to the bowl and mix in thoroughly.

Butter a 2lb (900g) loaf tin and add the mixture, making sure there are no air bubbles. Sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes until the top has taken on some colour and the pudding feels springy to the touch. Allow the pudding to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Cut into slices and serve warm, chilled or at room temperature as the mood takes you. Personally, I think it's best really cold and served with cold custard (sorry, I should say crème anglaise). Some people insist that it's better to wait a day before eating the pudding to get the best flavour and texture and I think they may be right.

Pain d’chien


  1. How fascinating, though it shouldn't really come as such a surprise. I guess we mostly think of high French cuisine when it comes to France rather than peasant food. Love the addition of apple.

    1. I couldn't agree more: in this country I believe we do tend to think of serious French cuisine or, maybe, the sunshine foods of the holiday areas in the south. But even in France, where regionality is so revered, there are some regions that don't seem to get much recognition for their local and, often, frugal dishes.

  2. Phil, I know I would love this! Reminded me of my Apple Bread and Butter Pudding, but your lovely recipe makes a smaller amount *and* a tidy loaf to slice! I need to make this soon.

    1. When I think of puddings, I don't often think about making them look tidy but I must admit this does end up a lot tidier than some other puddings, especially the ones made from leftovers.

  3. I don't know this area of France very well, so happy to hear about its food. Will definitely be trying this.

    1. Given that many other areas of France are so well known for their regional food, the distinct dishes of this area seem oddly hidden. Which is not to say that there aren't many fine cooks and enthusiasts in the area making sure that local food is still celebrated.

  4. Phil, the comment I left about a week ago doesn't seem to have gone through. This put me in mind of my apple bread and butter pudding, but I do love a nice loaf. This is on my must-make list.


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