An aternative to the norm
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 23:10
Pudding. Even the word sounds weird. So, how could bread pudding be any good?
Pudding. I am reminded of the awful vanilla pudding they served in elementary school and the slightly better chocolate pudding they served in high school. Just for kicks, we would add chocolate milk, but that didn’t help much. So, how could bread make pudding any better? I resisted for years, unable to make the disassociation.
Then I actually had bread pudding and I was mad that something so scrumptious was attached to such bad memories of blandness. Why must it be called bread “pudding”? Why can’t it be called “bread awesomeness” or “sweet bread custard”? Just anything but “pudding,” the word that I associate with yellow or brown globs of goo.
Cheap school pudding aside, some bread pudding served in restaurants look like blocks of quiche, another food that has the potential to be decadent but is usually mediocre and unappetizing. I couldn’t appreciate the real charm of bread pudding until I made my own.
If you think about it, bread pudding is genius! It turns stale bread into a real treat. You can also take out the sugar and add vegetables to turn it into a main dish for a vegetarian-friendly meal. Bread pudding is versatile, savory and fairly easy to make.
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon almond extract
2 ½ cups whole milk
2 cups sugar
1 loaf of challah or brioche, torn to pieces and left overnight to stale
½ cup pecans, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Beat the eggs, melted butter, vanilla, almond extract and milk together. Mix in the sugar until it dissolves. To clarify, it is a pudding because it’s not custard; more specifically, custards rely on eggs to thicken whereas pudding can use a variety of ingredients to form a solid mass. It’s complicated, but my plea to call it “sweet bread custard” wouldn’t work.
Moving along, arrange the torn challah in a deep dish, crust down, and drench the bread with the milk-base. You can also add dried fruit such as raisins with the bread before pouring the milk-base. Other recipes call for cutting the bread with a knife so that it’ll fit perfectly in a dish, but torn pieces give your dessert a little charm. Lastly, sprinkle cinnamon and the pecans on top and bake in the oven for 55-70 minutes or until it’s golden brown and people ask, “What is that amazing smell?”
If making my own bread pudding made it a dish to desire, then I guess I should consider doing the same for banana pudding or rice pudding or figgy pudding.
Pudding. It’s still a weird word, but apparently other ingredients can make it better.