Bread pudding appeals to all
Homespun bread pudding, made from dried bread and rich custard, has come a long way. Today’s restaurant menus feature myriad adaptations with gingerbread, white chocolate and lemon, to name just a few. Bread puddings are difficult to resist because of their old-fashioned quality.
I like to serve it during the holiday season because it seems to satisfy all the generations. This particular version is based on an idea of a sticky toffee pudding. Cut-up, dried dates and almonds are combined with egg bread, and then the mixture is bathed in a vanilla-scented custard.
You can make a quick ice-cream sauce by defrosting a pint of dulce de leche ice cream and whisking it in a bowl. Spoon it over the warm pudding.
Contact Diane Rossen Worthington at www.seriouslysimple.com.
Sticky Date and Almond Bread Pudding
This recipe needs to be started a day ahead to let the bread cubes dry.
6 cups (about 3⁄4 pound) egg bread with crust, cut into 1 1⁄2-inch cubes
1 1⁄2 cups chopped, dried Majool dates (about 8 ounces)
1⁄2 cup sliced almonds
Nonstick cooking spray
6 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 1⁄2 cups half-and-half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet a day before preparing the pudding and let them rest on the counter overnight or until the bread cubes are dried.
Heat an oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine the dates and the almonds. Set aside.
Coat a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange the bread in the dish, then sprinkle on the dates and almonds, and mix with a large spoon to combine, making sure that the ingredients are evenly distributed.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and egg yolks on medium speed until they are frothy. Add the sugar and beat the mixture until it is thick and light lemon-colored, for about 3 minutes. Add the half-and-half and, reducing the mixer speed to low, mix the ingredients to combine. Add the vanilla and nutmeg, and mix to combine.
Ladle the custard over the bread, then press lightly on the bread with a wooden spoon. Let the pudding stand for about 15 minutes so the bread absorbs the custard, occasionally pushing the bread down with a wooden spoon.
Place the pudding in the oven and bake it for 20 to 25 minutes. Open the oven; using heavy oven mitts and a large spoon, push the bread down. The remaining liquid custard will rise. Spread the custard evenly over the bread mixture. Bake it for about 15 to 20 more minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out barely clean.
Remove the pudding from the oven, and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle it with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm with ice-cream sauce, if desired.
Makes 8 servings.