Project Wonderful

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bread Pudding

I love bread pudding. Not only is it a simple and delicious desert, but the fact that you can use stale bread to make it means its the perfect dessert for not letting food go to waste.

From its humble origins, chefs have spun this into some seriously fancy dishes. There's a golf course here in Austin that is said to have the best bread pudding in the world. I've had it, thought it was OK. I didn't hear angels singing or feel anything special, but it was a pretty tasty dish.

Bread puddings date back centuries. For the vast majority of human history, most people could not afford to waste food, so a number of uses for stale bread were invented. In addition to bread pudding, cooks also used stale bread to make stuffing, thickeners and edible serving containers. Although the Romans did use eggs as binding agents in various recipes, custard was not invented until the Middle Ages, so early bread puddings were probably made simply from milk, stale bread, fat and perhaps a sweetener. Bread puddings were not only made by the Romans. Ancient versions of bread pudding include Om Ali, an Egyptian dessert made from bread, milk or cream, raisins and almonds; Eish es Serny, a Middle Eastern dish made from dried bread, sugar, honey syrup, rosewater and caramel; and Shahi Tukra, an Indian dish made from bread, ghee, saffron, sugar, rosewater and almonds.
- Emily Maggrett, eHow Contributor

I've made this version of bread pudding so many times now that I think its time to declare it mine. This is a great recipe for someone new to baking as its pretty difficult to screw this one up. 

Feel free to change up the amounts however you want - Paula Deen's recipe is so ungodly heavy with sugar, cream and butter that you'll gain 5 pounds just reading it. This one is a little lighter - but make no mistake, it aint diet food.

First, pre-heat the oven to 350...

I used half a baguette of HEB bakery bread. I purposely let it sit out on my counter for a few days to get nice and dry, then tossed it into the fridge so it wouldnt spoil. The result was some SERIOUSLY dry bread. Break the bread into medium sized chunks into an 8" baking pan. You can probably make the pieces smaller if you want. I was in a hurry. 

Add a good handful (maybe 1/2 a cup) of raisins - golden ones add a nice level of fancy to it, but use what you have on hand.  Even dried out ones work good as they plump up fine with the wet ingredients.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle it over the bread.

In a separate bowl add four eggs...

...2 cups of milk (I used half and half), 3/4 cup of sugar, 1tsp of cinnamon, and 1tsp of Vanilla.

Mix all this together till its well blended. 

Pour the whole mixture over the bread and raisins. Use a fork to push down the bread into the mixture. I personally think the longer it soaks, the better the results.
Bake at 350° for 45 minutes, until things are golden brown and spongy. Let it sit for a couple of minutes  to cool (the hardest part of this recipe)

To make a sauce for this, add some rum, a couple tablespoons of brown sugar, 4 tablespoons of butter and some water into a small pot. Reduce this down to a nice syrup and pour over the individual servings.

Dig in!

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