I got this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, 'How to Cook Everything'. This is my third attempt and I think I've got it about perfect (not that I'm not going to try some new variations next time...).
- 3 cups milk
(I used whole)
- 4 TB unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup plus 1 TB sugar
- Pinch salt
- 8 slices white bread, preferably stale, crusts removed if they are very thick or dark
(I used raisin challah that was 3 days old, cut off most of the crusts and cut them into pretty large chunks)
- 3 eggs
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. 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. Meanwhile, butter a 6-cup or 8-inch square baking dish and cut or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces (Large bites)
- 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. Mix together the remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Set the baking dish in a larger baking dish (I used a 9x13 large dish for the water and an 8x8 for the bread pudding) and pour hot water in, to within about an inch of the top of the dish.
- Bake for 45 to 60 minutes (49 mins worked well for me), 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 about 30 seconds to brown the top a bit if you like. Serve warm or cold. This keeps well for 2 days or more, covered and refrigerated.
I love this served very warm. The raisins from the challah are nice and plump and the small bits of crust left on the challah crisp up very nicely. I think bread pudding is one of the most wonderful things you can do with stale bread and I sometimes get extra bread just so it will become stale and I can make this bread pudding. Yum!
I thought the recipe from the book was overall very good and it used ingredients that almost everyone already has in their kitchen. It really is important though to make sure the bread chunks are fairly large and pretty stale or it doesn't seem to be nearly as good. You also want to make sure it really is done and not too runny. I think it's better to be a little overdone than underdone (you can always put ice cream over it to soften it up).
Plans for next time: I would like to make personal bread puddings using large muffin tins so that I can have a refined way of serving this great dish. Also, I'm going to add in some grated apples (tart ones) and a dash of rum for a nice variation. The holidays are right around the corner!