Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rum-Raisin Bread Pudding

Ok, ok, ok... it's January and I shouldn't be indulging in these kinds of treats so soon after the Christmas holidays, which were laden with cookies and chocolates galore. But I've also deemed 2011 a year of austerity, which means not wasting food, and what else was I supposed to do with the stale half-loaf of challah bread in my fridge?

This recipe is a variation on the Bread Pudding recipe in Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything, a new addition to my ever-growing cookbook collection (I also picked up his Food Matters Cookbook, a collection of healthy and eco-conscious recipes). The thing that's so great about bread pudding is it can be whatever you want it to be based on what you're in the mood for. Craving chocolate? Add some chocolate chunks to the mix. Extra fruit on hand? Add it along with some nuts for added texture.

I was tempted by the Rum-Raisin combo Bittman included -- in part because it reminded me of the first time I had bread pudding (in New Orleans, where it was served with a rich bourbon sauce) -- and since I had the required ingredients on hand decided to give it a go. It was ridiculously easy -- simply heat milk, butter, cinammon, salt and sugar, pour it in a buttered baking dish filled with stale bread chunks, add beaten eggs, and desired fillings, and bake for about an hour.

Rum-Raisin Bread Pudding
Makes: 6 servings
Time: About 1 hour, largely unattended

3 cups milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter (plus more for buttering the pan)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
Pinch salt
8 slices white bread, preferably stale, crusts removed if they are very thick or dark
3 eggs
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350F. Over low heat in a small saucepan, warm the milk, butter, 1 tsp of the cinnamon, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the salt, just until the butter melts. Butter a 6-cup or 8-inch square baking dish and cut or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces.

Put the bread in the baking dish and pour the hot milk mixture over it. Let it sit for a few minutes, occasionally submerging any pieces of bread that rise to the top. Beat the eggs briefly and stir them into the bread mixture along with the rum and raisins. Mix together the remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Set the baking dish into a larger baking pan and pour hot water in, to about an inch of the top of the dish.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until a thin-bladed knife inserted in the center comes out clean or nearly so; the center should be just a little wobbly. Run under the broiler for 30 seconds to brown the top a bit if you like. Serve warm or cold.

Keeps well for 2 days or more, covered and refrigerated.

Source: How To Cook Everything, 10th Anniversary Edition, Mark Bittman, Wiley, 2008

1 comment:

  1. This sounds - and I bet smells - amazing! I will try it !