Tuesday, October 17, 2006

bread pudding

I meant to make a pumpkin bread pudding the other day, but it turned out I didn't have canned pumpkin in the house. I always have canned pumpkin--I buy it up in the fall when it appears in stores, and shelve it. It's always there--just as there are always cranberries in the freezer, bought up against some future shortage. Apparently I slipped up last year and didn't lay in quite the pumpkin supply I had expected. So, chocolate bread pudding instead, and it was pretty tasty, I have to say. This is not a dessert I grew up on -- or, if it is, I have somehow forgotten it. But it's certainly one I'll repeat while the days are cold and damp and it's a comfort to have the oven on. Easy, delicious, and thrifty--what more could you want?

Here's what I did:

Dug in the freezer for the half-baguette I knew was in there. It was. Pretty stale, and not very big, but there nonetheless. I let it sit out a while to thaw, then broke it into chunks and dropped them into my 3-quart (or so) casserole. That didn't look like enough bread, and Mark had brought some big sub rolls back from his camping trip with Nick, so I ripped one of them up and put it in there, too.

Then I melted half a stick of butter in the microwave. Most bread pudding recipes seem to want you to butter the bread, but I didn't see that happening with the chunks I'd just thrown in the casserole. So I broke three (well, really, two, but that wasn't enough and I added another one later) eggs into the same container with the butter, then added three cups of milk, and whisked it all together. Oh, with about half a cup of brown sugar and a teaspoon or more of vanilla. It was a big container--a one-quart pyrex measuring cup, as a matter of fact. I probably should have mentioned that earlier.

So then I poured all that nice stuff over the bread and let it sit there for a while as the oven preheated to 350. (What really happened is I had only two eggs and two cups of milk and the bread absorbed it all, so I added another one of each and it looked much better. But you can skip that step.) Just before I put it in the oven I threw a handful of chocolate chunks into the casserole as well, trying to push most of them down under the bread/milk mush. At this point I was pretty skeptical, I have to say. It looked like strata. In fact, of course, it was strata, with sweet instead of savory fixings. Who knew?

Then I baked it for about 40 minutes. Towards the end I turned the heat up a bit to brown the top.

While the pudding baked, I made a caramel sauce by melting a stick of butter in a pan with a cup of brown sugar, then whisking in half a cup of cream when it was all melty looking. I poured half the sauce over the hot pudding and let it soak in before we ate it--and if I make this again I'll probably only make half a recipe of sauce, since I don't have any vanilla ice cream to pour the sauce over. But that's easily fixed, of course.


Library Mama said...

This recipe sounds heavenly! Or is it devilish?

One of the two...

Caroline said...

Yum. I'd eat that! And far more likely to happen than the bread pudding recipe I saw recently that called for leftover croissants. Leftover croissants? Who has those?!