14 June 2010

Recipe: Bread Pudding

Every June, we gather a the biggest group we can to go to Wolf Trap's annual Louisiana Swamp Romp - an afternoon of eating, drinking, and dancing to Louisiana music in the sunshine.

The best part about Swamp Romp is that it's just a big party where everyone brings yummy comestibles and a lot of sharing and making friends goes down. We're Team Julep for reasons that probably don't need explaining.  Most years, we set up near Team Crawfish, a great group that comes with a cooler (a hotter?) full of crawfish, corn, and potatoes.  This year, they couldn't come - hence the photo to the right.

This year's menu included:
  • Gumbo (from Donald Link's Real Cajun cookbook, although Chef Spouse has tracked down the recipe for Prejean's famous pheasant, quail and andouille gumbo, but not in time to do a test run)
  • Jambalaya (from a recipe I clipped from...somewhere)
  • Chocolate chip cookies (for making friends with the nearby children)
  • Mint Juleps (for making friends with the nearby adults)

Plus goodies made by the Romp crew:
  • homebrewed beer
  • duck tamales
  • pralines
  • gazpacho
  • ceviche
  • sangria
  • fruit salad
  • more wine
  • more beer
  • Popeye's fried chicken (it's traditional and a seriously delish guilty pleasure)
And...Elizabeth’s New Orleans-style Bread Pudding

This is based loosely on recipes from the Commander's Palace cookbook and from Joy of Cooking.  But here’s the thing to remember about bread pudding: it’s an inexact science. This is a dessert that was created to use up stale bread, so all quantities are approximate.


Butter a 4 qt (ish) casserole dish
Thinly slice about 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter on the bottom of casserole
Spread golden raisins over bottom of casserole

Don't have/don't like raisins?  Use other dried fruit - or even fresh fruit that holds up well to baking (i.e., any kind of stone fruit, apples)

Slice 1 loaf of stale French bread about 1/2 - 1 inch thick

Don't have French bread?  Use whatever you've got - but probably not whole-grain.

Stack the bread tightly in the casserole 

I like a spiral pattern

Sprinkle on some more raisins (for about 1 c. total, give or take)

Make sure you press them down - any fruit that doesn't get coated by the custard mixture will tend to burn

Whisk 3 large eggs in a medium bowl

Have extra yolks hanging around from an egg whites only preparation?  Feel free to substitute 2 yolks for an egg

Add 1 c. heavy cream
2 1/2 c. milk
2 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

You can go heavier on the heavy cream (reduce the milk accordingly) for a richer dish, or heavier on the milk (reduce the heavy cream) for a lighter dish, or replace some (or all) of the dairy with half-and-half.  Use what you have on hand.

Pour custard mixture over the bread and let stand for about an hour

Press bread down into custard mixture several times during the hour it’s resting - this makes sure everything gets fully saturated with the custard mixture before baking, which is what you're after.

Bake at 375 for 1 hour

Meanwhile, make the bourbon sauce:

Melt 1 stick (8 oz.) butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat

stir in 1 c. sugar
1/3 c. bourbon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

If you like it a little less boozy, you can replace a few Tbsp. of the bourbon with some water.

Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves
Remove from heat

Whisk 1 large egg in separate bowl
Whisk egg into bourbon/butter/sugar mixture
Cook over medium heat about 1 minute, whisking continuously, until the sauce thickens

Ok, this is where the magic happens:

When the bread pudding comes out of the oven and while it’s still hot, pour the bourbon sauce over the bread pudding so it soaks in.

You can hang onto a little of the bourbon sauce and re-heat to pour over individual servings when you serve it, but you don't need to. (Actually, you could also make another batch of the bourbon sauce for additional saucing of individual portions, because it keeps in the fridge and it's really good on ice cream, pancakes, waffles, pound cake, shoeboxes....)

1 comment:

shoegal said...

The New Orleans Pralines were from Joy of Cooking as well. Tips: Invest in a candy thermometer; Heat a couple of degrees past the specified temperature so you have a little wiggle room in spooning out the pralines onto wax paper before the mixture crystalizes.