I’ve been on a bread pudding binge lately, triggered by a scrumptious banana-bread version I had at The Local in Rhinebeck, and reinforced by the dreamy, creamy one Sali Hadzi makes at Il Cenàcolo using Tuscan bread. Perhaps it’s another sign of these troubling times that this old-fashioned comfort food is enjoying a revival on menus. Whatever the reason, I’m in.
My husband bakes our bread using whole wheat and white flour in equal amounts, so it’s dense and has a lot of flavor — not the type usually called for in traditional dessert recipes. I usually throw out stale leftovers for the birds or next-door neighbor’s chickens, but recently I ran across this recipe for whole wheat bread pudding, so the birds and chicks are just getting the crusts. It seems a little like a cool-weather treat, but I figure if braised short ribs can become a year-round staple, bread pudding can, too. Yes, it’s addictive. You are warned.
I’ve tampered with the recipe slightly, and I can’t remember where I found the original, so my apologies if I stole it from you. It supposedly serves eight, but it’s rich enough that it can stretch to 10 or 12. It’s a breeze to prepare and keeps for days in the fridge. And because it’s made with whole wheat bread, it’s good for you, right?
Whole Wheat Bread Pudding
Whole wheat bread, about a half pound
4 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
2 cups half-and-half or milk, or a mix
1 cup maple syrup
1½ tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
About 1 cup loosely packed raisins
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter, melted
Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a ceramic or glass 9-in. square baking dish or deep-dish pie pan. You’ll also need a shallow pan large enough for the baking dish to fit into.
Trim crusts from the bread, and cut into half-inch cubes. (There should be about seven or eight cups of cubes.) Spread on baking sheet and put in the oven for eight to 10 minutes to dry the bread slightly.
Whisk eggs and yolks in large mixing bowl. Whisk in the half-and-half or milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt.
Spread half the bread cubes in buttered baking dish and scatter raisins on top. Pour enough of the egg mixture over bread to cover it. Let bread soak for 10 minutes, occasionally pushing it down so it gets saturated.
Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl and sprinkle half of it over bread. Drizzle on half of the butter.
Add remaining bread to the pan and pour remaining egg mixture over it. Wait another 10 minutes, and then add remaining sugar mixture. Drizzle with the butter.
Put about an inch of water into the larger pan. Place baking dish into the larger pan and in the middle of the oven. Bake for about one hour. When the pudding is done, it will be puffed up and the top will be crusty. Cool on a wire for half an hour or so before serving. It tastes good cold, too.
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