Fans of my last bread pudding recipe, please note: this is a much different animal. That bread pudding’s charm derives from its surface-crunch and delicate souffle-textured center. This one, on the other hand, lives somewhere on the spectrum between flan and cheesecake. Serve it at a party, and I’ll bet no one guesses it’s bread pudding.
The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbook’s, Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. That cookbook has so many great recipes: awesome meatballs, eggplant parmesan, ossobuco, gratineed cauliflower — to name only a few.
Marcella’s recipe includes pine nuts and seedless raisins. With my finicky son in mind, I left out the nuts and raisins. The end product was a bit boring, but still delicious enough that Karen finished every last bit — a great rarity in my family, since my desserts often bomb. Anyway, I see great potential for this bland version as a base for better things. More on this at the end.
Glazed Bread Pudding
Granulated sugar, 1 cup for the caramel plus 1/3 cup for the pudding
An 8-cup rectangular flame-proof metal cake pan or loaf pan*
2 1/2 cups white bread, trimmed of its crust and lightly toasted, cut up
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup seedless raisins, soaked in water
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1/4 cup dark rum
*I used a round cake pan. Don’t know why Marcella is being so damned fussy about it.
1. Put 1 cup of sugar and 3 tablespoons water in the pan. Bring to a boil over the flame. Do not stir, but tilt the pan forward and backward to mix the melted sugar until it becomes colored a light nut brown. Take it off the heat and tip the pan in all directions to coat it with caramel. (Note: if you have an electric range, you may need to caramelize the sugar in a separate pot, then transfer to the cake pan. You might need to preheat the cake pan so that the caramel does not solidify too quickly.)
2. Preheat oven to 375F.
3. Put the cut-up bread and the butter in a mixing bowl. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it is hot but not simmering. Pour it over the bread and butter. Do not stir. Allow the mixture to cool, then beat it with a whisk or fork until it forms a uniform mass.
4. Drain the raisins and pat them dry in a paper towel. Dust with flour. Mix them in with the bread mixture. (I skipped this step.)
5. Add 1/3 cup sugar, the pine nuts, and the egg yolks to the bowl, and mix thoroughly.
6. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the bread mixture.
7. Add the mixture to the caramelized pan and place it on the middle rack of the preheated oven. After one hour, turn the thermostat down to 300F and bake for another 15 minutes.
8. Pierce the pudding in several places with a fork and pour 2 tablespoons of rum over it. Invert the pudding over a serving platter, pierce again with a fork, and sprinkle on the remaining rum.
Marcella says: “Allow the pudding to mature for at least a day before serving it. You can refrigerate it for several days, but allow it to come to room temperature before bringing to the table.”
I say: “Bullshit. This was good hot out of the oven. It was good at room temperature. It was good cold out of the fridge.”
Changes for Next Time
1. Mix the rum in with the bread mixture before baking. My wife and son like the rum flavor, but they don’t like discovering little pockets of intensely alcoholic bread pudding.
2. Some vanilla would be nice, too — a teaspoon or two.
3. Karen wants me to be a bit more careful with the caramel. Too much ended up at the sides of the pan, not enough in the middle.
4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the bread mixture.
5. Oh, this will be SO cool: put some caramelized fruit (pineapple, apple, or pear) at the bottom of the caramelized pan before adding the bread mixture. When inverted, it will look like upside down cake!
6. Something just occurred to me. With this much extra liquid (the rum and the vanilla), I should probably add an additional 1/2 cup of bread to the basic recipe.
This was a popular enough dessert that I’ll probably try making Le Next Generation sometime soon. Maybe this weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Rough day today. As a consequence, I was too exhausted to do anything but make take-and-bake pizza for Karen and Jake, chef’s salad for me. Too exhausted to think of anything interesting (although my mind is returning again and again to dreams — perhaps something soon on that), so you get bread pudding. So exhausted I had to eat a bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.
Oddly enough, I have no shortage of ideas for the Thursday Thirteen. Too bad I can only do it on Thursdays!
Any requests? Here’s the short list:
Thirteen Favorites of the Favorites (a Balls and Walnuts best-of)
Thirteen Favorite Movie Lines
Thirteen Favorite X-Files Episodes
Eh. That’s enough for tonight. Time to type up Jake’s homeschool assignment.