Saturday, April 7, 2007

Rich Bread Pudding

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces (about 1/2 loaf) good quality American-style white bread
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan

Slice bread 3/8-inch thick and cut into 1 1/2-inch square pieces (about 8 cups).

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

Whisk eggs, yolk, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Whisk in milk, cream, bourbon, vanilla extract, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in 6 cups prepared bread; mix thoroughly to moisten. Let stand 20 minutes.

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Scatter remaining 2 cups bread pieces on top, pushing down gently to partially submerge. Bake until pudding is deep golden brown, is beginning to rise up sides of baking dish, and jiggles very slightly at the center when shaken, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool until set but still warm, about 45 minutes. Serve.

A firm white American-style bakery loaf bread gives the best texture to this pudding. In a pinch, however, use Pepperidge Farm Hearty White Bread. Avoid chewy, crusty European-style breads because they do not soften properly in the custard. For an extra-creamy bread pudding with a sauce beneath a crisp top layer, remove about 1 cup of soaked bread and 1 cup of soaking liquid to a food processor or blender and purée them until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the purée back to the rest of the mixture and stir to combine before transferring it to the baking dish. If desired, serve this pudding with softly whipped cream.

8 servings

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