I consider myself somewhat of a leftover ninja. I believe that every scrap of food should be eaten, for better or for worse. I've already written about my Cleaning Out the Fridge Hash as a way to empty out your veggie drawer. So now let's turn to a new realm of leftovers - bread.
Stale bread has two main uses in my kitchen. One, breadcrumbs or croutons. And two, bread pudding. Make bread pudding once, and you'll be able to pull it off again and again, with a new twist every time. First, there is the universal awesomeness that is bread. Scraps of baguette, croissant, challah, sourdough, brioche, cinnamon swirl.... They'll all work. Plus eggs. We've always got some eggs lying around. Throw in some milk and sugar, and we've got the makings of the glorious dessert that is bread pudding.
There are so many versions of bread pudding out there, and we all have our preferences, so let me be upfront with my own. I prefer bread pudding with some texture. Any recipe that calls for an overnight soak, a lot of steaming, or cutting the crusts off of soft white bread? No sir. Not for me.
I also like break pudding that is made with real... bread. Not pumpkin bread, or banana bread, or some other kind of cake posing as bread. It just feels like a waste of effort to gussy up something that's already a dessert in its own right.
OK, you still with me? Great. Let's use up some old bread.
The technique is so simple. Cut up stale bread. Make a custard. Pour the custard over the bread. Bake. Serve with something gooey and creamy and lovely. Today we'll make it with blackberries and creme Anglaise, because we're fancy like that.
Vanilla Blackberry Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise
Yield: Serves 8-10
Prep Time: 30 min Cook Time: 40 min Total Time: 70 min
For Bread Pudding:
1 loaf stale crusty bread, cut into 1-inch squares (about 8 cups)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus some for greasing the pan
2.5 cups / 600 mL milk (2% or whole is ideal)
1 cup / 225g sugar
0.5 cup / 120 g brown sugar
1.5 Tbs vanilla extract
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp cinnamon
8 oz / 225 g blackberries
Preheat oven to 350F / 175C. Grease your baking dish with butter. In a large bowl, toss your bread with melted butter. In the other bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar, then add vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon.
Combine bread and custard mixture. The bread should be well coated and there should be some extra liquid that has yet to soak in. If the mixture is too dry, add some more milk. Let sit for about 10 minutes, so that more liquid can absorb into the bread. Fold in the berries, then spread into the greased baking dish and pack down the chunks. Bake for about 40 minutes til edges are browned.
Meanwhile, make the Creme Anglaise. This is a classic sauce that tastes great on all sorts of baked desserts. No, it's not totally necessary. But once you see how easy it is and how insanely good it makes the bread pudding, you'll be willing to make the effort.
For Creme Anglaise:
2 cups / 475 mL whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
0.5 cup / 120 g sugar
4 egg yolks
In a medium saucepan, heat milk and vanilla bean til just simmering, for about 5 minutes. In another medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together. Whisk in half of the hot milk in a thin stream. Pour SLOWLY and keep whisking, or else your eggs will cook. (Adding hot liquid to egg to stop it from cooking is called tempering.)
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until the sauce has thickened a bit, 4 to 5 minutes. Strain the sauce into a bowl. (Straining will take out any little chunks of cooked egg.) Scrape the vanilla seeds into the sauce.
Cut the bread into servings and drizzle warm Creme Anglaise over. Yum.
Both bread pudding and sauce will keep in the fridge. Don't forget to warm up the bread pudding in the oven or microwave. If you reheat the sauce, do it very slowly over the stovetop til just warm, or else the eggs could curdle.
For the recipe above, tinker with the type of bread, fruit and spices. Or check out one of the variations below.
Pumpkin: I LOVE the Epicurious version. This is a Thanksgiving staple.
Apple Caramel: Try this recipe, maybe with the bad supermarket croissants someone brought to the ski house.
Vanilla Ice Cream with Whiskey Caramel: One of Food + Wine's greatest publications of all time