Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bread Pudding Recipe and Tutorial

America's Test Chicken is proud to announce the launch of Chicken Two's new blog, Poop from the Coop! Check with her often for stories about her personal adventure re-experiencing the kitchen after many years away. Of course, Chicken One has her longstanding A Travel for Taste blog where you can share her travel and food stories and recipes she collects whenever she ventures abroad. Please also join our Facebook group to share your own recipes, kitchen practices and know-how. We are also on Pinterest and Instagram.

The complete bread pudding recipe appears at the end of this post.
Next month: two amazing sauces to smother over this month's delightful bread pudding recipe


From Chicken One:

While Chicken Two (author of the new Poop from the Coop blog) gives you the down-low on how to turn out a great dish of this month's specialty, I'll fill you in on some history, etymology and personal ramblings.

Bread pudding is, according to The New Food Lover's Companion,
A simple baked dessert made with cubes or slices of bread saturated with a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and spices. Chopped fruit or nuts also can be added. Bread and butter pudding is typically made by buttering the bread slices before adding the liquid mixture. Both may be served hot or cold with
cream or a dessert sauce.

Bread pudding is appealing; there’s no doubt about it. Part of the appeal for me is the fact bread pudding makes use of stale, day-old bread. Food historians generally agree that bread pudding evolved from frugality. That is, cooks, probably poor ones, found a way to turn old bread into a viable dish.

So I don’t have to throw old bread away! I hate throwing food away so bread pudding satisfies me on an emotional level while I’m making it. Eating it satisfies in a different emotional way, but that requires a completely different support group.

Pudding has an ancient, checkered past. It has a checkered present, for that matter. Americans think of pudding as that custard-like comfort dessert from childhood, despite Bill Cosby’s current troubles. However, in Britain, pudding can be anything from a chocolate mousse to Yorkshire pudding, which is close to an American popover. Apparently, too, bread pudding in Britain is known as “Wet Nelly”. I would love to hear from readers who have first-hand experience with this dish in Britain.

If you want to be grossed out, check into the evolution of puddings through history. What started out as sausages (meat encased in intestines and cooked) eventually evolved into cereals and meal steamed in pudding cloths instead of intestines, which then morphed into the puddings of today. Oh, there have been, and still are, so many variations of pudding all over the world that I got dizzy and had to stop researching. If you are interested, leave me a comment and I’ll send you my sources.

The word “pudding” itself also has an interesting story. It started out in Latin as botellus, which means “sausage”, which found its way into French as boudin, which also means “sausage”. If you know how to pronounce that French word, you can easily see how it might have become “pudding” in English.

Speaking of boudin, my only experience with this sausage is via Cajun cuisine. Turns out bread pudding is a specialty of New Orleans, just like boudin. In fact, Chicken Two has a New Orleans cookbook she got on a recent trip there with a wonderful bread pudding recipe, including hard (whiskey) sauce.

Speaking of sauce, bread pudding depends on a sauce spooned over it before serving. The Chickens experimented with an aforementioned hard sauce and a caramel sauce as well. You can find our sauce recipes and results in next month’s post. So subscribe to this blog to keep abreast of all our kitchen shenanigans.

Just for you:
Here is a picture of chickens eating bread pudding. (Don't worry, it's actually a recipe made for chickens so they don't get sick from eating people food.)

From Chicken Two:

When we decided to try bread pudding with our leftover bread, I don't think either of us realized the variations available. Just try Googling "bread pudding recipe" and see what happens. Who knew??

So this first attempt was to get back to the original recipe that reminded us of Grandma's great pudding.
No fancy inclusions, just plain old bread and stuff.

You can use any leftover stale bread - French bread works best, but if you don't have that, you can toast up regular bread if it's not real stale. Just make sure the bread is dry and hard.

In a large bowl beat together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, orange peel (if desired) and cinnamon.
It was a great opportunity to use my Cuisinart processor!
In an ungreased 2-quart square baking dish (ok, mine wasn't exactly square) toss together bread and dried fruit: 
Pour egg mixture evenly over the bread mixture and press lightly with the back of a large spoon.
Bake, uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until puffed and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. 
Serve warm with a sauce of your choice. Our favorites are  Caramel Sauce and Bourbon Sauce. Both will be discussed in the next installment.

A couple of tips:
Don't try to shorten the time. The first time I did it, I was tired and in a hurry. Tasted good but didn't have much texture and was kinda runny.

Bread pudding must use dried bread because it must absorb the custard mixture you pour over it before baking.

The more liquid you pour over the bread, the denser the baked result. Therefore, you have a lot of control over the texture of the finished product.

Let us know how yours turned out!

Bread Pudding

Recipe by America's Test Chicken
Traditional bread pudding recipe
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups cubed French bread, day-old/stale/dried
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries or raisins
Cooking Directions
  1. To dry bread cubes, place them in single layer on a large, shallow baking pan. Bake at 350-degree F about 10 minutes, stirring twice. Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl beat together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. In an ungreased, 2-quart square baking dish, toss together bread cubes and dried cherries. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread mixture. Press mixture lightly into pan with back of a large spoon.
  3. Bake, uncovered, in a 350-degree F oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until puffed and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool slightly. Serve warm with caramel or bourbon sauce.
  4. Keeps well in a sealed container in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat to serve leftovers.
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