Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bread Pudding for Fall

Okay, so I proclaimed it fall about a month ago when it got chilly one day mostly as wishful thinking. Autumn is my favorite season. Not only for the holidays (yay Halloween!) but the comfy, warm foods it inspires. Bread pudding has always been one of those enigmas I'd hear about but never tried. With this new baking thing I got going, I took the plunge and made it.

Now, here's the problem: I've never had bread pudding before so I don't know if this tastes like "typical" bread pudding. I only know it was pretty-really-quite good. It was the perfect combination of a pudding bottom with a lightly toasted top of cinnamon sugar. The whipped cream is a must and the fresh dollop by it's side was the perfect compliment.

I used an 8x8 pan (and halved the recipe) so I had to adjust the baking time to a little longer (15 minutes) since it was deeper than the 13x9 would have been. But everything else I did by the book, complete with the bit of bourbon. Again, I don't know how this compares with other bread puddings but it was definitely a success. I'm eager to try a chocolate bread pudding now (but it's going to be hard-to-damn-near-impossible to beat the one from Pappasito's).


Source: The Best Recipe by Cook's Illustrated

A firm, white American-style bakery loaf gives the best texture to this pudding. In a pinch, however, use Pepperidge Farm Hearty White Bread. Avoid chewy, crusty European-style breads because they do not soften properly in the custard. If desired, serve this pudding with softly whipped cream.


2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


4 large eggs, plus 1 large yolk
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces (about 1/2 loaf) good quality American-style white bread, sliced 3/8 inch thick and cut into 1 1/2-inch-square pieces (about 8 cups)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan

1. FOR THE CINNAMON SUGAR: Mix sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; set aside.

2. FOR THE PUDDING: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

3. Whisk eggs, yolk, and sugar in large bowl to blend well. Whisk in milk, cream, bourbon, vanilla extract, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in 6 cups bread cubes; mix thoroughly to moisten. Let stand 20 minutes.

4. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Scatter remaining 2 cups bread pieces on top, pushing down gently to partially submerge. Brush exposed bread with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake until pudding is deep golden brown, is beginning to rise up sides of baking dish, and jiggles very slightly at the center when shaken, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool until set but still warm, about 45 minutes. Serve.

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