We were lucky to have an early Christmas Eve dinner with two of our good friends, Richard and Brian. With Greg working part of the day, I had no plans to attempt his family’s ricotta cheesecake recipe, a holiday tradition in their home. I mean really talk about pressure. So I decided to make a bread pudding Richard featured on his blog. I made a few alterations, since I had some pears to use up and didn’t have cognac. I also couldn’t find brioche or challah bread, which Richard prefers, at the grocery’s bakery. So I used sourdough. I’ve mentioned before how popular bread puddings are down here and Richard’s didn’t disappoint. He is a Southern boy after all.
Richard’s Bread Pudding
- 1 pound sourdough bread cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 large granny smith apple peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1 tbsp Grand Marnier
- 5 large eggs, beaten
- 3 cups milk
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet and place the cubed bread on it. Cook for about 25 minutes until toasted, stirring occasionally. Remove once golden and dry.
In a large skillet, melt two tablespoons butter. Add the apple and pears and 1\4 cup of sugar to the skillet and cook over a medium heat and stir for about 15 minutes, until the fruit is soft. Add the cinnamon and liquors. Stir to incorporate. Add another 1\4 cup of sugar and cook for 1 to 4 minutes until the the sauce is very syrupy. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk,vanilla, and remaining 3/4 cup of sugar. In a large bowl, add fruit to the bread crumbs toss until evenly coated. Pour the milk mixture over the bread and allow to sit for about 10 minutes to allow them to soak up everything.
Use a tablespoon of the reserved butter to grease a 9-by-13 or an 8-by-11 inch baking dish. Add the bread pudding and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to an hour, until the custard is set and the top is golden. Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar. Serve after you’ve let it cool for about 5-10 minutes.
A note: We loved the bread pudding without a sauce, but if you just have to have one, Greg made this wonderful whiskey sauce when I made a bread pudding earlier this year. I was feeling adventurous and was going to try a tawny port reduction sauce, but was vetoed. Everyone just wanted to drink it. If that happens to you do an end run around your guests, right to the liquor cabinet and reach for the rum to make this lovely rum sauce featured on Sweet Caroline’s Cooking. She actually has a bread pudding to go with it too.
Another note: This is the second time Richard’s showed me a trick or two. Here are his oven-crisped potatoes. Men are always upstaging me in the kitchen!