This recipe is a fantasy. Its name means golden soup. Traditionally, the desserts of Portugal are very sweet, often too sweet for our palates. We wanted to make a special bread pudding that would be Portuguese in flavor, fragrant with almond paste, citrus, and cinnamon, yet keep the sugar to a minimum. While we usually prepare bread pudding with toasted bread slices, we thought it would be fun to combine an almond-filled sponge cake roll with the rich egg custard for which the Portuguese are famous.
For the cake, whisk the eggs, sugar, and salt together in a mixer bowl. Heat, whisking constantly, over a pot of simmering water until the mixture is warm and the sugar is completely dissolved. Then beat off the heat with an electric mixer until it forms a slowly dissolving ribbon on the batter when the beater is lifted. Sift the flour and nuts over the batter, add the lemon zest and almond extract, and gently fold until blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
For the filling, process the nuts and sugar to a paste in a food processor. Add the egg whites, lemon juice, and vanilla and almond extracts and process until blended.
Unroll the sponge cake and spread with the filling. Roll up tightly, like a jelly roll, and cover with plastic. (The cake may be refrigerated up to 2 days.)
For the custard, heat the half-and-half, cream, cinnamon, star anise, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan to barely simmering. Remove from the heat and let steep 2 hours.
Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg together in a mixing bowl. Strain the cream mixture into the bowl and stir to blend. (This mixture can be refrigerated up to 2 days. Let warm to room temperature before using.)
To assemble the bread pudding, warm the raisins in the Marsala in a small saucepan. Let stand about 30 minutes to plump.
Place the dish in a larger baking pan and pour enough hot water into the pan to come three-quarters of the way up the sides of the dish.
© 1998 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.