I helped host a brunch in Denmark this last weekend and wanted to make a dish that could serve a crowd that was also an American treat. I thought about Blueberry Pancakes, but didn't want to be tied to the stove flipping them. Besides that, mine always come out seriously lopsided. I had some two day old Italian bread that needed using, so decided to make Bread Pudding. I don't make this often because I don't eat regular wheat bread that much, but this recipe is so good, that once in a while, I just have to make it. This version is a variation on Paul Prudhomme's recipe. However, I like mine to be more lightly spiced and less sweet. And my favorite topping is Maple Syrup instead of the usual Bourbon Sauce, Lemon Sauce or Chantilly Cream. Sometimes I change it up and make it with fresh blueberries and then serve it with Blueberry Syrup or I put in apples and serve it with Cider Syrup. For Christmas morning, I have made it with dried cranberries or cherries too. They are all incredibly delicious versions! I made a really big batch since there were lots of people coming over and this was one of the first dishes to be eaten up. I consider that the best endorsement of all. This recipe makes about 16 servings, so for a smaller family, just cut the recipe in half.
A few tips: Toast the bread cubes in a slow oven until they are dried - this can be done ahead of time. Start soaking the bread about 1 1/2 hours in advance so that it really gets a chance to soak up the egg and milk mixture. Also, make sure to cut up the walnuts into fairly small pieces. Brown the bread pudding well (unless you like it really soft) because the crispy bits on the top may be the best!
Brunch Bread Pudding
2 cups sugar (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups if you like it very sweet)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably freshly ground
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 Tablespoons melted butter
4 cups whole milk (I used Lactaid)
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts
10 cups stale French or Italian bread - with the crust, cut into cubes and lightly toasted in the oven
In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, melted butter and milk and mix to incorporate. Place bread cubes in a buttered 9 x 12 inch baking pan. Pour the egg/milk mixture over them and toss slightly. Let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes. Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 45 minutes. Then raise the temperature to 425 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the top crust is lightly browned and the bread pudding is puffy. Serve warm or cool with Maple Syrup.
Five Element Analysis
Bread belongs to the Wood Element so that element is definitely covered. The eggs and walnuts bring in the Water Element. The sugar and Maple Syrup contribute the Earth Element. The vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and milk represent the Metal Element. The raisins, being dried, add in the Fire Element, but not very much. So, to make this balanced, make sure to serve it with tea or coffee and enjoy!