This weekend, I was gifted with a bag of assorted bread from the local European bread bakery. It was a generous gift of a generous amount of bread. After running through the obvious usage of bread for breakfast toast, sandwiches and maybe toasting and then freezing some for bread crumbs, I decided to use some of it to make bread pudding. As I mentioned, it was a very generous amount of bread – I still have enough left for all the other uses.
Bread pudding is not a dish I grew up with. My family was not a group of regular dessert eaters, except on the major holidays starring major feasts – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter. Our desserts of choice were usually in the pie family. Bread pudding was not only foreign to me, the idea of it seemed gross. Bread? In pudding? Yuck. My prejudicial opinion of bread pudding lumped it into the same unfortunate category as tapioca, which I had tried and knew with full certainty I detested. Those pellet things – ewwwwww.
That is, until I went to New Orleans a few years ago with a group of photographers. We numbered about eight or nine women, on the loose in the city for a couple days with cameras and credit cards. Our group included two women who had been there many times and not only knew the most photogenic and interesting locations, they knew where to shop, the great places to eat, and the best menu items at said places. Our photo/shopping/food tour of Nah’lins included Po’ Boys, Oysters on the half shell, pralines, jambalaya, an array of seafood and bread pudding.
My introduction to bread pudding took place at Red Fish Grille after a great dinner. The presentation was amazing – the waiter poured hot caramel and chocolate sauces from tiny pitchers onto each serving of the pudding, artfully swirling the streams of sauce in midair. It was the most sensual dessert presentation I have ever witnessed. Alright, you got me - it was probably the only sensual dessert presentation I have ever witnessed. And it was also delicious. We went back the next day for afternoon coffee and more bread pudding.
After that trip, a member of my photography group who had been on the excursion made chocolate bread pudding for our Christmas party. Oh, yeah. It tasted like Nah’lins all over again.
These were the tasty memories I had in mind when I decided to try my hand at bread pudding. The bar was pretty high, but I felt up for the challenge.
I checked my recipe file, but couldn’t find the bread pudding recipe I was sure was filed somewhere in the 15 pounds of web site printouts, magazine clippings and hand written index cards. The pile was so daunting, I only invested about three minutes really looking before I decided to check the most valuable resource I knew – Google search. The first recipe that appeared on the search results seemed like a winner, if only in the sense that I had all the ingredients on hand. It also had reviews which gave it a gazillion stars, raved about this particular recipe and the instant glory it conferred upon the person making it, and offered suggestions for sauces to accompany it. I stopped searching and started mixing.
The result? One hundred percent winner, in the sense that in a 24-hour period I ate chocolate chip bread pudding for an evening snack, followed the next day by breakfast and then lunch. Did I mention I have obsessive food tendencies? Do I need to? Even better, Boyfriend liked it, too!
In any event, here is the winning recipe – from Allrecipes.com – along with my modification.
Bread Pudding II
Prep Time: 30 Minutes Ready In: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Submitted By: ELLENMARIE Cook Time: 45 Minutes Servings: 12
This lightly spiced, extra thick bread pudding really hits home. We suggest using a rich egg bread or a moist white loaf in this recipe.
6 slices day-old bread
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. If desired, sprinkle with raisins.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2009 Allrecipes.com Printed from Allrecipes.com 11/2/2009
¾ semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of raisins
1 cup milk plus 1 cup half-and-half