GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

November 6, 2012

Bread Pudding: Classic and New

Pat's Kitchen Patricia Altomare
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — Once, bread pudding was a cook’s way of using up leftover bread; my mother would use one of her favorite words — frugal. From the 1940s through the ‘60s, bread pudding was thrifty way to make dessert, and was hugely popular because it was irresistible.

But this rich, comforting dessert is reason enough to go out and buy a loaf. If it is already a mainstay dessert in your home, then you have figured out its secret: everything about bread pudding is easy, from making it, to eating too much of it.

This dessert’s basic ingredients are bread and eggs, but is so much more. First, the bread absorbs the egg mixture and becomes soft. When baked, it develops a golden crust over a melt-in-your-mouth, creamy layer; this is the goodness that is addictive to most people.

While most any bread is OK to use, a hearty bread is the best; it softens without getting mushy. And if you want the best in flavor, use an egg bread, such as brioche or challah.

This old-fashioned bread pudding recipe comes from a restaurant outside of Eau Claire, Wisc. The restaurant had become famous for this Bread Pudding with warm Lemon Sauce, and the recipe came with the restaurant when the current owners bought it in 1993.

Again, it was a frugal way for restaurants to use leftover breads and rolls, and their patrons enjoyed a delicious dessert.

Classic Bread Pudding

Serves about four

Ingredients:

2 cups cubed (small) day-old bread, crusts removed (a hearty bread works well)

2 cups milk

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons butter

Dash of salt

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional – 1/3 cup raisins

Note: This recipe leaves out cinnamon and nutmeg, common spices in bread pudding. (Perhaps because the lemon sauce is highlighted here). If you wish to use it, add a 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and a bit smaller amount of nutmeg.

Lemon sauce:

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Dash of salt

1 cup water

11/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place bread cubes in a buttered 1-quart baking dish.

In a saucepan, heat milk, sugar, butter and salt over low heat just until butter melts.

In a bowl, beat eggs; whisk in warm milk mixture. Stir in vanilla. Stir in raisins if using. Pour mixture over bread. Place baking dish in a shallow pan of hot water. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted one inch from edge comes out clean.

Lemon sauce: In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water and lemon peel; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter, and lemon juice. Best served warm or at room temperature.

THE NEW

1. Chocolate: One of the most popular new versions of bread pudding is chocolate, and I must say it is very good. To make, add about 4 ounces of coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate to the milk (or cream if recipe uses) mixture. Stir until well combined, and whisk into egg mixture.

2: Cran-Orange Pecan: Simmer 1/3-cup dried cranberries in 1/2-cup orange juice until plump, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain cranberries, fold into soaked bread along with 1 tablespoon orange zest and 1/3-cup toasted pecan pieces.

(Suggested amounts when recipe is for four servings)

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Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at patakitchen@yahoo.com, or write care of The Eagle-Tribune, 100 Turnpike St., North Andover, MA 01845