(Dec. 20, 2019) Certain dishes are synonymous with the holidays and bread pudding is a tasty example.
The traditional dish is known for its humble beginnings, but there is a trend to upscale bread pudding to new levels of sophistication.
While this is a good thing, the basic principles that make bread pudding so delightful must not be ignored. It is then and only then that distinction can be achieved.
With that thought in mind, we will review the fundamentals for fabulous bread pudding.
Bread is the first consideration. Stale French or Italian loafs, ciabatta and challah are the most common choices.
When slicing the bread, aim for uniform sized pieces. These chunks are the essence of your pudding, so you want them to cook evenly.
If one does not have stale bread, do not fret. Adjust oven racks to middle and lower positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Spread bread cubes in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets. Bake, tossing occasionally, until dry, about 15 minutes, switching trays from top to bottom racks halfway through.
Cool bread for about 25 minutes and continue following the instructions.
Dairy is the essence of the custard and the custard is the essence of bread pudding. So, your next decision is to choose what type of dairy products you want to use for the custard.
Heavy cream, half-and-half, and whole milk are one’s choices.
The difference between these three products is the fat content.
Heavy cream is about 38 percent fat, half-and-half is about 12 percent, and whole milk is about 3.25 percent.
If one were to use all heavy cream, the bread pudding would be too heavy. On the other hand, if you were to use whole milk, the bread pudding will have a thin consistency.
Many chefs use half-and-half, but I find mixing the heavy cream with whole milk yields the best results.
The subject of baking the bread pudding in a water bath also needs to be considered.
The texture of bread pudding is crucial and cooking it in a water bath helps keep the pudding soft and creamy.
When the bread pudding is removed from the oven, there might be a slight amount of condensation on the top of the bread pudding from the water bath. Gently press a paper towel on the exterior and your dessert will be ready for serving.
Adding dried fruits or nuts is up to the individual cook. The combination not only adds flavor, but also enhances the texture.
Figs, currants, walnuts and pistachios are interesting variations. Dried fruit soaked in bourbon intensifies the theme of celebration and is another possible option.
Panettone, an Italian Christmas bread, is a festive foundation for bread pudding. The candied orange, lemon peel and raisins add a refreshing twist to the rich dessert.
A scoop of vanilla ice cream, dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of bourbon sauce are the final touches to this decadent dessert.
The holidays are special and one’s menu should reflect the occasion. Panettone bread pudding with bourbon sauce is a modern twist on an American classic. Enjoy!
Panettone Bread Pudding Embellished with Bourbon Sauce
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¾ heavy cream
4 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
5 to 6 tablespoons good quality bourbon
1. Whisk brown sugar, heavy cream and lemon zest in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until mixture comes to a boil.
2. Whisk in butter and bring mixture back to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in bourbon.
Panettone Bread Pudding
14 ounces panettone, cut into 1-inch cubes, 2 ounces into 1/2 -inch cubes
¼ cup dried raisins
¼ cup dried currants
bourbon for soaking the fruit
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
¾ cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 ½ cups whole milk
2 ½ cups heavy cream
9 large eggs
¾ teaspoon table salt
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus 2 extra pinches
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus 2 extra pinches
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Forty-eight hours before you make the bread pudding, soak the dried raisins and currants in enough bourbon to cover the fruit.
2. Place cubed panettone on a sheet pan uncovered. The drying process should take about 24 to 36 hours.
3. Combine brown sugar and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
4. Spray the inside of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
5. Heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it is about to simmer. Remove from heat.
6. In the meantime, using a hand held mixer, blend eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a medium bowl.
7. Blending constantly, slowly pour cream mixture a little at a time into the egg mixture.
8. Pour combined mixture over 12 ounces of 1-inch cubed panettone; fold to combine. Let stand for 30 minutes, tossing and pressing occasionally to submerge the panettone mixture.
9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
10. In the meantime, drain the fruit soaked in bourbon.
Add the fruit and nuts to the bread mixture. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the panettone to the oiled dish. Pour the rest of the liquid over the top.
11. Spread reserved ½-inch panettone cubes over top of the soaked mixture. Using a pastry brush, dab melted butter over the top of the dry bread cubes.
12. Sprinkle brown-sugar mixture evenly over the top of the bread pudding.
13. Place bread pudding in a larger pan filled with 1-inch of water and bake on the middle rack until the custard has set, about 45 to 50 minutes or until 170 degrees on an instant thermometer.
Transfer to a cooling rack and cool until pudding is just warm.
14. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of bourbon sauce.
* If your guests have a tendency to go heavy on the bourbon sauce, you might want to double the recipe.
Secret Ingredient – Merriment. “Tis not the food, but the content, that make the table’s merriment.”
– Robert Herrick