Saturday, November 03, 2007

Unattractive Warming Tasty (Better Known as Bread Pudding)

A few weeks ago, there was a pumpkin bread pudding that was the recipe of the day on epicurious (or of some status as to make it into the epicurious feeds.) It looked good, simple, and I'd been wanting to make apple bread pudding with caramel sauce since May, but I was waiting for autumn to come. It's here, and so are winter squash, which I seem to be very taken to lately.

Somehow all that nonsensical stuff related to pumpkin bread pudding.

A few days later, on Smitten Kitchen I saw that Deb had made bread pudding, and from the very same recipe I had been looking at, but made the prep even easier.

So then of course, on Wednesday, there was a recipe for pumpkin bread pudding in the Tribune. I took that to be a sign that I have to make bread pudding. It is unavoidable. But I couldn't choose which one to make. The one in the paper was so complicated sounding, it sent me running back to the one in Gourmet. But then I read through the recipe, and it sounded like it had the same amount of liquid as the one in the paper but with less eggs. The complicated sounding custard drew me back to paper. I guess I've been making too much ice cream.

I didn't stop there though. I found brioche this morning, but chose to go with the bread I'd walked into the shop to buy: the harvest apple bread. It's a streusel-topped round filled with chunks of apples. I figured the streusel would dissolve into the pudding and the apples would carry the sweetness evenly through.

But I was wrong. Once cooked, the apples were masked by the pumpkin so any bread would have worked just as well. And I wouldn't have minded it being a little less sweet. But it was still tasty, and despite having no ice cream in the house, and having to toss out the whipping cream, the pudding was tasty and rich unadorned, even if it was downright ugly.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

serves 6
adapted from various sources, including some of Deb's ideas, Gourmet, and the Wolfgang Puck article in the Tribune

12 ounces apple bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a 3 qt casserole dish toss together bread cubes and melted butter. (Alternatively, do this in a bowl and transfer to six individual size ramekins before baking. It'll probably look more appetizing, and it is always fun to have your own little dessert. We just don't own any.)

Stir milk and 1 T. sugar together in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Combing the eggs, egg yolks, and remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar in a heatproof bowl. Beat with a mixer on medium speed for about 4 minutes. (I'll be honest, I'm not sure why. It said until smooth, but that never happened for me. It just got foamy and looked like the consistency was a bit more even than when I just whisked it. Maybe that was because of the amount of sugar, or the egg whites.)
Whisk in a spoonful of pumpkin puree and a small amount of hot milk, whisking well. Gradually whisk in remaining puree and milk. Whisk in cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Pour over the bread cubes and toss to coat. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes to absorb custard, making sure bread on top is coated. The oven will need to be 350F, so preheat it sometime between now and the next step.

Place dish in a large baking dish and pour water into the pan to come 1/2 inch up the sides of the custard dish. (I'm not sure that step is necessary, I know it helps the custards cook more evenly, but I forgot to cover them to keep them from over browning and to steam them, and it was fine.) Bake until puffy and cooked through, about 1 hour 30 minutes for the large one of 40 minutes for the smaller ones.

Remove from oven and serve in a manner that won't hurt anyone.

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