Thursday, January 3, 2013

Now the Bread Pudding!

What's your opinion of bread pudding?  For some it's the ultimate comfort food dessert-- homey, sweet, and luscious.  For others, it's a pasty blob of goop!  I think anti-bread pudding-ers are in the minority though, and maybe they've had only bad recipes, which are legion.  I know people that always order the bread pudding if it's on a restaurant dessert menu and consider themselves bread pudding experts.  I have one friend that even had bread pudding with candles for a birthday "cake"!
For those of you that love bread pudding, I think this is a wonderful recipe.  It's quick to put together and it bakes up really pretty, slightly browned and puffed, smooth and creamy inside with just a few plump raisins here and there.  If you don't think you like bread pudding, then hold on, because you just might like this one as an excuse to eat the BRANDY SAUCE!  Don't even think about making the pudding without the BRANDY SAUCE!  If you don't want the alcohol, you can use 1 tsp. brandy extract, or cook the sauce a little bit after adding the brandy to boil off the alcohol.
Note  One other tip:  the bread makes a big difference in bread pudding.  It can't be too firm or crusty (don't use sourdough, whole wheat, or French baguette type bread) or too mushy (don't use national brand white bread).  I've found the best thing to use is a loaf of bakery style soft, white sandwich bread.  The loaves they make in the grocery store bakery are usually fine.
It's cold outside, even here in south Texas!  Time to make a yummy, warm, comforting dessert!

Bread Pudding with Brandy Sauce (serves 6)
5 slices of day-old white bread, broken into pieces
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup half and half light cream
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated is best!)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbl. melted butter
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter a 1 qt. casserole (a round souffle dish works well).
In large bowl, combine the bread, milk and cream.  In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar.  Add to the bread mixture.  Stir in the vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, butter and raisins.
Pour into the casserole dish.  Put the dish in a larger, shallow pan and pour hot water into the larger pan to a depth of about 1 inch.  Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  The top will be slightly browned.

Brandy Sauce
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk
1.5 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbl. cold water
2 Tbl. brandy

In a small, heavy saucepan, beat the egg yolks slightly and add the sugar, vanilla, and milk.  Blend well.  
Cook over medium low heat, stirring, until mixture boils.
Stir the cornstarch mixture into the pan and cook, stirring, until thickened.
Off the heat, stir in the brandy.  
Serve warm, with the bread pudding.

In warm weather, bread pudding is also good cold!  The brandy sauce tastes like melted ice cream-- only better!

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