Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bread pudding - a NOLA treat

As you may have gathered from past entries of this blog, I'm not much of a baker. I like to cook, but desserts are not my forte. But I do love bread pudding, and since I haven't found a good prepared one, I do bake one every now and then.

My tips:
  • The bread must be stale. The best bread to use in this has no preservatives. True French bread does not; it's very crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. But really, any stale bread will do. I've used old hotdog and hamburger buns that were frozen for months.
  • Beat the eggs and brown sugar well before adding the milk. Do not add cinnamon or nutmeg to the milk. It will separate. Much better to sprinkle the spices on the soaked cubes and stir.
  • Make sure all the cubes have soaked. Mash them down to make sure they all get contact with the liquid.
  • Do not try to skip a step and soak the pudding in the pan you cook it in. It will stick and stick badly.

I served this with a Bananas Foster topping at last night's dinner we cooked to raise money for our youth group's New Orleans mission. Click HERE for that recipe. It's pretty good without the rum, too. Full disclosure: I forgot the pudding in the oven and it cooked for a little more than an hour instead of 40 minutes. I skipped the browning step. It was still good, or at least people were kind enough to say it was. Also, everything marked optional was not in the bread pudding at that dinner. If you need a recipe that will serve 75, email me.

Lori K's bread pudding for 8-10

4 cups cubed day-old French bread (about a loaf)
3 eggs
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 cups fat-free milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup pecan pieces (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.

Whisk together eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl. Blend in milk and vanilla. Stir in the toasted bread and raisins (and nuts, if using). Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour. When soaked, add cinnamon and nutmeg.

Meanwhile, lightly coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish with canola oil or nonstick cooking spray. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Skim off froth and cook until it begins to turn light nutty brown. If it burns, start over.

Pour the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish. Drizzle cooled browned butter over the top. Bake the pudding for 40 minutes, or until firm in the center. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the top is brown and puffed.