- Serves: 4-6
- Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Prep Time: 15 minutes plus overnight chilling
- Effort: easy
- butter, for greasing
- 1 large stale, crusty baguette
- 250 g strong, extra-mature cheddar, grated
- olive oil, for frying
- 250 g unsmoked, cured bacon, finely chopped
- 125 g fresh shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced
- 150 g spinach, stalks removed
- 10 large free-range eggs
- 675 ml semi-skimmed milk
- 200 ml half-fat crème fraîche
- watercress and cherry tomato salad, dressed with a simple vinaigrette, to serve
1. Grease a 30cm square baking tin with butter.
2. Chop up the stale baguette, including the crusts, into 2.5cm cubes and spread them evenly in the prepared tin. Sprinkle the grated cheddar over the bread.
3. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan until hot and fry the bacon until it starts to go golden and crispy. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they are slightly golden too.
4. Add the spinach leaves and stir the mixture until the spinach is wilted. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the mixture to cool a little, while you prepare the eggs.
5. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the milk and crème fraîche. Season with ground white pepper and a good pinch of salt. (If the bacon seems particularly salty when cooked and if the cheese is particularly strong, you should use a little less salt.)
6. Pour the egg mixture over the bread.
7. Sprinkle and fold the cooked ingredients evenly into the egg and bread mix, pressing down on the ingredients to make sure everything is mixed in well.
8. Cover the dish with cling film and put a heavy weight on top, such as a good cook book, to compress all the ingredients. Leave to chill in the fridge (including the book!) for at least 8 hours and preferably overnight.
9. Preheat the oven to 180C/150C fan/gas 4. Remove the dish from the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temperature. Bake for 1 hour, covering the top with foil if it seems to be browning too quickly. When cooked, remove the dish from the oven and leave to settle for 5 minutes.
10. Serve with a very simple dressed watercress and cherry tomato salad.
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