So tomorrow will be, I kid you not, our 10th family Christmas party. I am so ready for Christmas to be over. It will be a simple affair at great-grandmother's house. Chili, soup, warm bread. A simple affair to be rid of what has turned into an accursed season this year.
I have been tasked with dessert, and seeing as how my kitchen has been in a constant state of disaster since the week of Thanksgiving, I cannot bring myself to do something decadent. That being said, I also took into account the simple fair that we were having. So instead of a fancy cake, heavy candy, or multitude of pie, I opted for a simple, 11th/12th century dessert with a rich history: Bread Pudding.
Bread Pudding is a flexible recipe that basically calls for a loaf of stale bread, a custard of some type, a "sweets spice" like nutmeg, cinnamon, or ginger, and a dried fruit or nut. It is synonymous with comfort food.
Originally the food of paupers, it utilizes common household staples so nothing goes to waste.
Bread Pudding KK Style
10 cups or so of coarsely cubed white bread.
6 large eggs
3.5 cups of whole milk
1.5 cups of heavy cream.
2 cups of sugar
1t vanilla extract
1T of cinnamon
1 cup of raisins
Butter for greasing pan
1 cup of packed brown sugar
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of whipping cream
3/4t of cinnamon
2T of whiskey
Tools you will need:
- 9x13x2 baking dish, preferably with a lid. (lid not mandatory, but hella convenient.)
- Plastic wrap or foil if you don't have previously mentioned lid.
- A large bowl
- measuring cups and spoons
I have no pictures of process for you today, but hopefully a finished product. We will see.
The recipe I am using today called for 6 cups of bread, cubed. I didn't have a stale loaf of bread, just one pushing stale and mostly gone, so I had to add almost an entire loaf of fresh bread. Then again, I used more than 6 cups. Probably closer to 10 cups of cubed white bread. I decided to add more bread because when I used 6, my bread pudding looked like soup. The flimsy white bread just disappeared in the custard mix. This is not really surprising since white bread is so soft and has, like, zero nutritional value. If you opt to use a heartier bread like challah or whole grain, maybe 6 cups will be enough. If you have ever read my blog before, you know to just trust your gut, go with your instincts. Unless your instincts are terrible. In that case just hope and be ready with a fire extinguisher.
So I digress. Cube the bread or tear it in tiny pieces or strips or whatever totes your goat. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat your eggs. Then add all the remaining ingredients, except the raisins and bread, stir to combine. You see here is where I messed up. After I combined all these fluids to make the custard, I put all my bread cubes in the bowl, only to immediately (and messily) add them to the baking dish. Don't be an idiot. Use the butter to grease your baking dish, put the bread cubes in said dish, then pour your sweet custard mix on top of the cubes.
This is when you can tell if you need more bread or not. Mine was super soupy. Granted it needs to be wet, not drowning though. So I added 2-3 cubed slices until I felt the dish was not just a pan of non-alcoholic eggnog. Remember also that you need to leave enough room to add your cup of raisins and account for the pudding to rise. So don't pack that bad boy to the rim of the dish with bread. In fact, I just checked on mine in the oven and it is DANGEROUSLY tall. Hopefully this will not end in disaster because bread puddings are meant to fall.
Once you have gotten the amount of bread and what not into the pan to your liking, cover it and refrigerate it a couple of hours. You see, I didn't read the recipe all the way through when I started my pudding so mine only got to chill an hour. I think the point is to give everything time to soak up into the bread. Again, I used white bread and I actually got in their with my hands to stir in and coat everything. I have little fear of things not marrying well. Those who choose thicker breads, proceed with caution.
After it is done chilling, marrying, whatever, put it in a 350 degree oven for an hour and 15 minutes. Your house will start to smell amazing around 30 minutes. Unless you overfilled the pan, then your house will smell like burned eggs and toast.
The original recipe calls for a rum sauce, but we are more a whiskey family. Therefore, I am subbing whiskey for the rum. There are as many sauce varieties as there are pudding varieties. Find one that suits your tastes if mine does not.
While your bread is cooling, melt your butter and brown sugar in a saucepan. Don't burn it, you have to stir consistently. Once everything is smooth, add the remaining ingredients on a medium heat until it reduces to a thick sauce, about 5 minutes.
You can pour it over the whole pudding or set it aside to rewarm and garnish when you are ready to serve it. My God, that sauce tastes like winter under a stack of warm blankets, in front of a roaring fireplace. Enjoy. Thanks for taking me back.