Again, Bittman came through when I was wanting to try a new recipe. I’ve never tried my hand at Bread Pudding, and knew this was my year to give it a shot. I was inspired by his recipe, but inevitably tore it all apart and made it my own. It was pretty darn good if I do say so myself.
The recipe called for a stale, dense white bread, recommending challah. We found some easily at Central Market, and left it out for a couple of days before making the pudding. The bread is so gorgeous, it was almost a shame to use it just for this recipe.
I buttered a square glass baking dish and a cast iron pan (I was making two batches – this was the dessert I was bringing to the holiday dinner I mentioned before). Side Tangent #1 – buttering pans with your hands is very therapeutic. Side Tangent #2 – the pictured cast iron pan belonged to my mom. She’s had it since she was 17 and her and my dad ran away together. They were all-out hippies, and for awhile this was the only pan they owned. My whole life she’s cooked exclusively in cast iron and her collection has grown. When I met Josh, I learned that cast iron was his cookware of choice too – at our engagement party, she handed down this heirloom skillet. I felt it was appropriate to bring over the dessert in it; perfect serving dish for the occasion. :)
We cut up the challah into squares and piled them in the dishes…
Now here’s where I digress from Bitten’s plan. His recipe calls for 3/4 cup of maple syrup or sugar. I couldn’t decide, so I used 1/4 cup real maple syrup, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/4 cup raw sugar. His recipe called for 2 cups of half & half (I know!!) and I did 1 cup of half & half, plus 1 cup of The Most Amazing Eggnog Ever! (found at the PCC, it’s the only eggnog I like! It has all of 6 ingredients in it, all of which you can pronounce, comes in glass bottles, and has a thick layer of cinnamon and nutmeg that settles to the bottom so you have to give it a good shake! AND now I have a cupboard full of cool glass milk jugs that hold my lentils, quinoa, and wild rice – so beautiful! Yes, we did buy a lot of it over the holidays…*sheepish grin*) I also added some dried fruit – sour cherries, figs, and candied ginger. *flexing my creative genius muscles*
We added all the goodness into the bread and weighed it down with some plates and bowls. Then the goodness baked for about 45 minutes at 350, and you’re done!
Overall, it turned out pretty good. Next time I make it, I’d probably tear the bread into smaller chunks and maybe add more liquid. It wasn’t quite as puddingy as I would have liked – the bottom was wonderful, and top was more dry. It was really well received by everyone though, and that’s what matters! Not too bad for a first try!