Monday, August 25, 2008

Bread Pudding

I haven't written much about this on this blog, as it's not that sexy, but one of my favorite ways to have my dessert is a silky, slidy, homey way, with overtones of vanilla and nutmeg, warm and soft and...well, maybe it is sexy.

I would be such a terrible vegan. I could live without cake, but milkless and eggless would be sad indeed. I love puddings and custards, especially slow-baked, with a little skin on. They're ok flavored (I favor lemon, coffee, caramel, and banana), but I really crave the purity of just a baked egg custard, or if I have as much bread around as I did yesterday, a crusty, squashy bread pudding.

I mixed cubes of the Pane di Genzano and last week's Semolina Raisin Bread, both staled, threw in a few chunks of apple, peach, and plum, and poured a mixture of hot milk, cream, egg, sugar, and vanilla over the whole thing, and baked for an hour and half. And it's perfect.

Sometimes, and custard is one of those times, it's not really necessary to follow every nitpicky step to get a lovely dessert. I was riffing on Dorie Greenspan's apple bread pudding, which involves caramelized apples, apple butter, butter, and a 30-minute soak before baking. I eliminated most of the fuss, (though never the water bath while baking, that really matters), and wound up with slightly leaner though not meaner bread pudding with a layer of delicious dry crusty bits on top.
This isn't to say that the apple bread pudding made as directed is a bad thing, I've made it and it is very very good, just that I like desserts where there's room for simplification, late night throwing together while someone nice is making squid and shrimp pasta. Also, any dessert that has a possibility of qualifying as breakfast is a winner--I almost always like breakfast better than dessert anyway. Far from incidentally, Matt happens to love bread pudding too.

Also, look how thrifty. All that stale bread used, and I think that that apple may honestly have been six months old.

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