Traditional Bread Pudding
Creamy, custardy bread pudding, a favorite dessert, developed generations ago as frugal cooks found ways to use up stale bread. This recipe for bread pudding features dried fruit and a touch of rum.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
1/2-inch pat of butter
1 cup dried fruit (pears, apricots, apples, apricots, raisins, and so on)
2 cups water
1/4 cup rum or alcohol of choice (optional)
4 1/2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg, or same amount dried
1 1/4 cups sugar
pinch of salt
10 slices of day-old white bread (preferably crusty country-style bread)
1/8 cup (1/4 stick) butter
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Butter two 10-inch round baking dishes or two 10-inch terrines with the 1/2-inch pat of butter.
Chop the fruit.
Place the chopped fruits in a pan and cover with water.
Bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
Strain the fruit.
Cover with rum or other alcohol of choice (optional).
Zest the orange.
In a heavy pot, combine 4 cups milk, the vanilla, cinnamon stick, clove, nutmeg, and orange zest.
Bring the milk and spices to a boil.
Remove from heat and cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, remove the orange zest, clove, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean.
Strain the milk through a sieve into a bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and salt until the mixture becomes frothy and light in color.
Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking.
Strain into a bowl.
Remove the crust from the bread slices and cut the slices into 2-inch triangles.
Discard the crusts.
Soak the bread in the remaining 1/2 cup milk for 1 to 2 minutes.
Don’t let the bread get so soggy that it falls apart, but it should just be moist all the way through.
Sprinkle 3/4 of the fruit-rum mixture over the bottom of the baking dishes.
Arrange the bread triangles over them, overlapping each other a little.
Sprinkle remaining fruit on the top of the bread triangles.
Quickly stir the custard mixture and then ladle it over the bread and fruit.
Melt the 1/8 cup butter in a small saucepan.
You can also melt it in a bowl in the microwave.
Drizzle the melted butter over the top of the pudding.
Bake approximately 40 minutes or until the pudding feels slightly firm and a little resilient.
It should also be browned slightly on the surface.