Evadne was too polite to share this, but we were the guests at her brunch, and I ate three servings of this bread pudding, it was so good! See my additional comments at the end of the post:
My husband, the true chef in our family, loves this time of year because he enjoys making warm, hearty foods like stews, braises, and pies. And I love this season because I get to eat what he makes! Recently we had some friends over and he made bread pudding, taking the recipe from his favorite go-to cookbook, Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything.
Typically, I've enjoyed bread pudding as a dessert but we served it as part of a brunch menu...and it really worked, reminding me of cozier version of French toast. The pudding was warm, filling, and just a touch sweet -- the perfect start to a sunny weekend day spent with friends.
Makes 6 servings
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Over low heat in a small saucepan, warm the milk, butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt, just until the butter melts. Meanwhile, butter a 1 1/2-quart or 8-inch square baking dish (glass is nice), and cut or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces; they need not be too small.
2. Place the bread in the baking dish and pour the hot milk over it. Let it sit for a few minutes, occasionally submerging any pieces of bread that rise to the top. Beat the eggs briefly and stir them into the bread mixture. Mix together the remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Set the baking dish in a larger pan and pour hot water in, to within about an inch of the top of the dish.
3. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a thin-bladed knife inserted in the center comes out clean, or nearly so; the center should be just a little wobbly. Run under the broiler for about 30 seconds if you like, to brown the top a bit. Serve warm or cold, with or without sweetened whipped cream. This keeps for 2 days or more, covered and refrigerated.
Editor's Note: I made this recipe over the weekend, using some stale baguette that I had tossed in the freezer. I also added apple and raisins (one of Bittman's recommendations). Bittman recommends 1 cup of drained, grated apple (I grated the apple then squeezed out the excess liquid with paper towels) + 1/4 cup raisins. I also increased the recipe overall by about a third so I could use a 9 x 13" glass dish and skipped the final broiling step. Results = fabulous.
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