breadpudding-46

A group of friends and I get together for dinner parties about every other month, and this past weekend was one of those fabulous nights. These dinners are a collaborative effort and we generally have some kind of theme to the menu. It’s super fun to see what everyone comes up with, and what’s better than sharing delicious food (generally with beer pairings)? I highly recommend this practice.

So, you’re asking, what does this have to do with bread pudding? Did you make this lovely bread pudding for that dinner? Well, no. I made cheese fondue, but, as a result, I ended up with a decent amount of left over cubed bread that was getting a little stale.

Now, I could have tossed the bread cubes with some herbs and olive oil and baked them to get croutons, or further dried them out and pulverized them in the food processor to get breadcrumbs, but why do all of that when there could be bread pudding? I mean, the bread was already chunked and dried out, how often are you in that position to begin with? Really, I had no choice…

 

breadpudding-3

 

For the Pudding
6 – 7 cups stale bread, cut into approx. 1 inch cubes*
3 cups milk
3 eggs
¾ C brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
4 Tbsp Butter, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 C dried cherries
¾ C chopped pecans
zest of 1 orange
2 Tbsp orange juice

* It is important that the bread be stale or dried out so it soaks up the liquid. If the bread is already moist itself, the pudding could end up soggy. If you are using fresh bread, try cutting it into chunks and then putting it in the oven at a low temperature for 10 to 20 minutes, checking periodically to see if the bread has dried out.

 

breadpudding-16

 

For the Hard Sauce
8 Tbsp Butter
1 Egg (not pictured)
1 tsp Vanilla
1 C Sugar
1/4 C Bourbon
1 pinch Salt

 

breadpudding-5

 

Preheat the oven to 350º F and butter a 9×13 baking dish.

Combine the milk, brown sugar and 2 Tbsp of the butter in a small saucepan and gently heat, stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved into the milk. Remove the pan from heat.

While the milk is heating, whisk together the eggs, spices, orange juice and zest, and vanilla. Temper the egg mixture by whisking in about half the milk in small batches and then whisk the tempered egg mixture into the remaining milk. Keep whisking until the egg is thoroughly incorporated.

breadpudding-13

Put the stale, cubed bread in a large bowl, along with the cherries and pecans, and pour the liquid over the bread. Gently stir the bread, allowing it to soak up all that liquidy goodness. Once the bread has absorbed as much of the liquid as it can, pour the whole thing into the prepared dish. If needed, redistribute the cherries and pecans. Dot the top of the pudding with the remaining butter and sprinkle the top with cinnamon and brown sugar. (The pecans on the top are particularly lovely after baking with the cinnamon and sugar…mmmm.)

Put the dish on a middle rack in the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.

 

breadpudding-22

 

While the pudding bakes, it is a good time to put together the hard sauce. Now, I’m a big fan of the hard sauce. I like the taste of bourbon on my bread pudding, but if that’s not your thing, you can reduce the amount of bourbon in the sauce or substitute something along the lines of a creme anglaise, which is always delicious.

Heat the sugar, salt and butter together in a sauce pan until the sugar has completely dissolved into the butter. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla and bourbon. As above, temper the egg mixture with the hot butter before whisking the egg into the saucepan. Heat the mixture gently, stirring all the while, until it thickens. Remove from the heat and let cool. If any lumps have formed, go ahead and strain the sauce.

When the pudding is browned on top and cooked through, remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool. While I am a firm believer that bread pudding should be eaten warm, the dish will need at least 10 or 15 minutes to set up before you dig in. Once the pudding has cooled a bit and set up, spoon out a helping for yourself and drizzle with the hard sauce. Mmmmmm.

breadpudding-38

On the off chance some of the pudding survives the night and you find yourself reheating it for later consumption, I find that covering the portion with foil and heating it in the oven is the way to go, although a microwave will certainly get the job done (no foil with the microwave). If you find that the pudding needs some more moisture upon reheating, try drizzling some milk or butter over it to help reconstitute.

breadpudding-30

Bread Pudding with Dried Cherries and Pecans
 
Recipe By:
Ingredients
  • For the Pudding
  • 6 – 7 cups stale bread, cut into approx. 1 inch cubes
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ C brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 4 Tbsp Butter, divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 C dried cherries
  • ¾ C chopped pecans
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • For the Hard Sauce
  • 8 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Egg (not pictured)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 C Sugar
  • ¼ C Bourbon
  • 1 pinch Salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F and butter a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Combine the milk, brown sugar and 2 Tbsp of the butter in a small saucepan and gently heat, stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved into the milk. Remove the pan from heat.
  3. While the milk is heating, whisk together the eggs, spices, orange juice and zest, and vanilla. Temper the egg mixture by whisking in about half the milk in small batches and then whisk the tempered egg mixture into the remaining milk. Keep whisking until the egg is thoroughly incorporated.
  4. Put the stale, cubed bread in a large bowl, along with the cherries and pecans, and pour the liquid over the bread. Gently stir the bread, allowing it to soak up all the liquid.
  5. Once the bread has absorbed as much of the liquid as it can, pour the whole thing into the prepared dish. If needed, redistribute the cherries and pecans. Dot the top of the pudding with the remaining butter and sprinkle the top with cinnamon and brown sugar.
  6. Put the dish on a middle rack in the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
  7. While the pudding bakes, it is a good time to put together the hard sauce. Heat the sugar, salt and butter together in a sauce pan until the sugar has completely dissolved into the butter.
  8. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla and bourbon. As above, temper the egg mixture with the hot butter before whisking the egg into the saucepan. Heat the mixture gently, stirring all the while, until it thickens. Remove from the heat and let cool. If any lumps have formed, strain the sauce.
  9. When the pudding is browned on top and cooked through, remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool. Let the pudding set up for at least 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm with a drizzle of hard sauce.
Notes
If you need to reheat the pudding, it is best done in the oven, although a microwave will work. If the pudding is looking a bit dry when it is time to reheat, try drizzling some milk or butter over the pudding before reheating.