Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bread Pudding -- Better Than It Looks

Looking at these photos now, I think this is a dessert my friend Craig would love. It's not fussy. It's homey. It involves ice cream. However, this bread pudding was initially greeted with suspicion. It doesn't look pretty. It's a sloppy mess of stale bread, chocolate chips and dried fruit drowning in a soup of eggs, sugar, half & half and cinnamon. Dan called it peasant food. I'd say that's about right. It seems like the sort of thing that poor Irish immigrants to London would make for New Year's dinner, or at that's how I romanticize it.

But once tried, it was conceded that, indeed, bread pudding tastes better than it looks, however rustic. Megan said it reminded her of French toast, a childhood favorite of mine, which gave me permission to eat dessert for breakfast for the first time in my entire life. Ice cream included. I've lost my appetite for breakfast lately. Maybe it's the overall gloom. Maybe I'm sick of eating cereal every day. I am such a creature of routine.

Bread Pudding: from Cake and Cup
1 loaf ciabatta bread, or 12 to 16 pieces stale bread
handful semi-sweet chocolate chips
big handful dried fruit
6 eggs
4 cups half & half
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Rip apart bread into bite-size pieces and arrange on the pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and dried fruit.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, half & half, cinnamon, vanilla and brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Pour over bread. Make sure every piece of bread is sufficiently emersed in liquid. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve plain, a la mode or with whipped cream.

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