Saturday, July 19, 2008

BREAD PUDDING WITH FRESH FRUIT: Sweet Solution

I usually remember that I need to buy milk right after I've made my coffee, fifteen minutes before I need to leave for work. So it's on a regular basis that I get my milk at the 7-11 across the street from my apartment. But 7-11 only sells organic milk in the big containers. As I stand there in the fridge section, trying to hustle out of there, I always go over the same mini argument in my head: Do I buy the organic in the humongous container that I'm either going to have to use up somehow or waste, or buy the itty-bitty container of conventional milk that's the perfect size? I don't buy everything organic, but I really do try to with certain foods, and milk is one of them. So even though I pretty much only use milk in my coffee, the enormous organic carton wins out time and time again.

I've been wanting to figure out how to use up extra milk every week. I've been making pancakes, and those are good, but the truth is, I'm not always in a pancake mood. So I recently decided to try my hand at making bread pudding. The ingredients were pretty basic; I used the rest of my big ol' thing of milk, a bunch of fruit that was just about to go bad, extra cream and eggs I had leftover from a different baking project, and the sliced bread that I keep in my freezer. The final result... good stuff! Better than pancakes!

This was the first time that I made bread pudding. To make the recipe, I mostly went by look and feel. I glanced quick at a couple of cookbooks just to make sure that I was on the right track, but sometimes I just don't feel patient enough to completely read through a recipe.

One of the main things I picked up on is to make sure that there is a lot of milk for the bread to soak up, not just a little bit. Some of the books said to heat the milk up first and then soak the bread and blah blah blah, but I had stuff to do besides make bread pudding, and I didn't have time for all that. I was a little nervous that I would risk ruining ingredients, and then have to throw away food or eat food that I didn't like. But I made up my mind and decided that this bread pudding was going to work out and that was that.

Since the ingredients in this recipe were based on the this-and-thats in my fridge, it will most likely be somewhat different next time.

Ingredients (this time around):
(makes 1 full and hearty 9x11 dish)
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • 5 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 12 slices sourdough bread, defrosted
  • 1 cup cherries
  • 2 nectarines
  • 5 apricots
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Putting Together the Puddin':

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
  3. Cut the bread into about 1-inch squares.
  4. Chop up the fruit.
  5. In a really big bowl, mix the milk, cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon together well.
  6. Add the bread, fruit, and cooled butter into the bowl and stir.
  7. Butter a 9x11 baking dish, and pour the bread pudding mixture into the dish.
  8. Put the dish in a larger baking dish, filling the outer dish with hot water, coming up to about 1/2 of the height of the inner dish. I used a large aluminum baking pan that I could mold to be the size I needed it, and then I placed the whole production on a baking sheet for added support. (I think this step is important for cooking the eggs and milk in a thorough and gentle way, although I'm not certain that it's completely necessary.)
  9. Pop it in the oven and bake. Check it after 45 minutes. It will probably bake for about an hour, or maybe a bit longer. Check for doneness by pricking the bread pudding with a sharp knife, and testing to see that it comes out clean, or nearly clean, with the center of the pudding still a little wobbly.

Mellow, simple, and humble food--to me, fresh fruit bread pudding is perfect-tasting. It is a great thing to have around the house, and it doesn't last long! It was nice to have it on hand, not only as a treat for myself, but to give away to friends.

Wonderful for snacking and entertaining, it's so good to know that bread pudding is only a few cups of extra milk away!

2 comments:

noah marmar said...

this blog is adorable.

Kristina said...

Sweet Pea,

Now that it's fall, another great way to use up all your milk, is with Soup Baked in a Pumpkin (see D. Madision's "Local Flavors"), or Dorie Greenspan's AMAZING stuffed pumpkin creation, a savory seasonally appropriate riff on bread pudding, and I'm sure you could make it with milk instead of cream.
http://www.doriegreenspan.com
YUM!