February 28, 2007
Shocking News: Bread Pudding is Actually Good
Who knew bread pudding was edible? Up until a couple days ago, I was convinced that it wasn’t. The name doesn’t sound all that appealing, it’s never looked very good and all of the ones I’ve tasted have had something seriously wrong with them. Some have been mushy and wet, others have been dry and tasteless and overtly bread-like. Like all foods though, I tried to like bread pudding. I once went out on a limb and ordered bread pudding in a restaurant. It was listed on the menu as being served with a rum sauce. I figured anything with a rum sauce had to be good. I was wrong. Then again, I had problems with every element of my meal that night, so it should have come as no surprise that dessert wouldn’t be good either. I’m not one to give up easily though, my roommate and I made bread pudding back in university but it was awful too. Although it was also made in a dish that was cursed, so that could have been part of the problem. Every meal we tried to make in that dish turned out absolutely repulsive. I vaguely remember some sort of sweetened vermicelli… ugh, just the thought of it makes my stomach churn. I think the dish eventually got thrown out because it was deemed that nothing good could come from it. Despite my bad experiences with bread pudding, I’ve heard my Mom talk about my Grandma’s bread pudding for years, always saying how good it was. That didn’t convince me that I needed to make it. Recently I’ve seen bread pudding popping up all over the blogs, and it looked kinda good... I still wasn’t convinced, but I was starting to cave in, and after a few more bread pudding sightings I decided to give it another go. But if I was going to make bread pudding, it had better be a good one, so I turned to my favourite book, from the author who has never let me down. If anyone can convince me that bread pudding is good, it would have to be Dorie Greenspan.
And convince me she did! I made a few changes to Dorie’s original recipe for Apple-Apple Bread Pudding and changed it into an Apple-Cherry Bread Pudding. I also downsized it because I wanted to use my brand new and very pretty Paderno baking dish that I bought on sale at a factory outlet. I love new things! I found that I can love bread pudding too! It won’t replace chocolate or cheesecake or ice cream as one of my favourites, but it’s not bad either. Actually, I’m looking forward to trying Dorie’s Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding next. It’s the best of both worlds! I’m starting to suspect that Dorie could tell me that dirt was tasty and if she made it, it would be…
Mom is thrilled to hear that I’ve embraced bread pudding and that I’ll be making it again, even if mine doesn’t resemble Grandma’s in the slightest. Of course, when Grandma made bread pudding it was to feed a family of 12, and in an effort to save money, raisins were the only adornment. As far as I’m concerned, if Grandma can make plain bread pudding so good that her children are still talking about it long after they’ve had their last bite, she’s some sort of superwoman. But there was really never any doubt about that.
You never know what you’ll find here next, one week it’s bacon, the next it’s bread pudding. If you feel like making any suggestions, I’ll probably make that too!
Apple Cherry Bread Pudding (Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Apple-Apple Bread Pudding)
For the caramelized apples:
2 medium fuji apples
2 T unsalted butter
2 T sugar
A combination of homemade dinner rolls and cream puffs, (both stale) torn into pieces
A generous ½ cup of cherry jam
1 ½ cups milk
½ cup half and half
2 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, (generous)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Extra sugar and jam for topping
Butter a 7x7 baking dish, dust the inside with sugar and tap out the excess. Line a larger roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towels.
Peel and slice the apples. Put a large skillet, (preferably nonstick) over medium high heat, add the butter and when it melts, sprinkle the sugar on top. Cook the butter and sugar until it caramelizes. Add the apples and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes, until the apples are tender but not soft. Transfer the apples and liquid to a plate and reserve.
Throw half of the bread pieces into the baking dish and top with the cherry jam. Spoon the apples and their liquid over the jam and then cover them up with the remaining bread.
Combine the milk, half and half and cream cheese and blend with an immersion blender. Put it on the stove and bring to a simmer.
Put a teakettle on to boil. In the meantime, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg, yolks and sugar together. Still whisking, slowly drizzle in the hot milk mixture, continue to whisk and slowly pour in the remaining milk. Add the vanilla and whisk to blend. Pour the custard over the bread and press the bread gently with the back of a spoon to help it absorb the liquid. Leave the pan on the counter, pressing the mixture with a spoon every now and then, for 30 minutes. Just before putting it in the oven, sprinkle sugar on top.
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat to 325F.
Put the baking pan in the roasting pan, slide it into the oven and then pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding pan. Bake the pudding for about 55min or until a thing knife inserted deep into the centre comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool at least 20 minutes before serving.
I also glazed the top with a mixture of cherry jam, heated with some water so that it liquefied.
Dorie Greenspan + Bread Pudding + Apple + Cherry