Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pudding Parade

I'd like to apologize for the plethora of pudding recipes lately--most of these past few dishes I whipped up during the Second Snowpocalypse back in February and I guess I didn't realize at the time how much I consider puddings to be a comfort food. Not surprising I guess, most of these recipes have the warm, down-home feeling that can't help but comfort you--like when you're tucked cozily inside while surrounded by 4 feet of snow in a city that can't even manage to function when it rains, for example.

Like rice pudding, bread pudding is another dessert that I've come to embrace. Admittedly, even the name is off-putting. But, as a young college student starving after a long restaurant shift, the leftover bread pudding from the buffet once proved more than I could resist. Maybe because I was so hungry and my expectations so low did leftover buffet bread pudding doused in crème anglaise seem such a revelation. Or maybe just because anything doused in crème anglaise becomes instantly irresistible.

Also similarly to rice pudding, bread pudding recipes come in a range of consistencies from wet and custardy to dry and cakelike. I like mine somewhere in the middle. I don't usually make bread pudding (or my own breadcrumbs for that matter) because I never have that fabled staple on hand--"day-old bread." What is day-old bread? In the modern era of pre-sliced, packaged loaves, I think it's increasingly rare that any of us regularly have a nice, crusty loaf of freshly baked bread that we can let dry on the counter overnight for perfect bread pudding cubes. Actually, I'm sure there are plenty of you out there that frequent bakeries regularly and don't find this strange at all--don't judge me.

Luckily, after a recent visit from my parents, I actually had a perfectly crusty Italian loaf on hand but, if you don't or don't have time to wait around on stale bread, just toast your cubes in the oven for 10 minutes first and they'll be pudding-perfect.

Bread Pudding
4 eggs, beaten
2 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 cups dry bread cubes
1/3 cup raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl beat together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. In an ungreased 2-quart baking dish, toss together bread cubes and raisins. Pour egg mixture over bread mixture, press lightly with the back of a large spoon to moisten all bread cubes.

2. Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until puffed and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly, serve with caramel sauce, bourbon sauce or crème anglaise if desired.

Serves 8, only 4 grams of fat per serving! (minus the crème anglaise of course...)