Bread Pudding: Lost and Found
Whew! I made it through the holidays relatively unscathed and now I can get back to blog posts! Hooray! What’s that you say? You say, “In what universe do ‘the holidays’ last from September to February?” That is a fair question, my friend. And the answer is, “The universe in which I try to hide my laziness under a flimsy veil of excuses.” Sorry! In all honesty, the last five (FIVE!) months have been intensely busy but that is no excuse for not sitting my ass down and typing up a couple paragraphs once a week. I’ve realized that I’m never going to be able to realize my lofty goals and ambitions without being able to commit to a simple, periodic blog post. I just need to do it. So I suppose this blog is going to act as a litmus test for my future. Yikes.
But enough about my shortcomings. I owe you guys a recipe! Think of it as a belated Festivus present. I’ve been super sick all weekend, so today I needed some straight up comfort food–warm, rich, and delicious. I decided to make a grown-up version of one of my all-time favorite desserts: bread pudding. Well, let me clarify. Bread pudding would be my favorite dessert if everyone didn’t always insist on putting raisins in it. Raisins ruin everything! Don’t get me wrong, I love raisins on their own. But as soon as you put them in a baked good or (heaven forbid!) a savory dish, you are relegating me to a mealtime punishment of picking out those little, chewy nuggets of blech. No raisins. It was decided. I was excited about the bread pudding prospect, though; this dessert is just crying out for some beer! I mean, what else is going to accent and amplify the bready goodness like a dark, malty ale? Why aren’t more people doing this?
For my beer selection, I chose Lost and Found, a brew by local San Diego favorite, Lost Abbey. This beer is a lovely, dark, abbey style ale with heavy notes of dried fruit. I chose it as an homage to traditional bread pudding because it is made with…raisin puree! Perfect! I can add a teensy bit of raisin essence without all the actual yuckiness. At the shop where I found the beer, I also happened upon a loaf of fig anise bread from local bakeshop extraordinaire, Bread & Cie. I had been planning on just using a french baguette, but this loaf called out to me as the perfect, sophisticated pairing for this exceptional brew. Plus, I love giving a shout-out to local business when I can.
Alright, I’m done squawking. Let’s get to the good stuff.
Lost and Found Bread Pudding
For the Pudding
4 or 5 c. french bread or fancier bread (enough to fill an 8×8 baking pan), cut into large cubes
1 1/4 c. milk (I used almond milk but, if you prefer cow juice, make sure you use whole milk)
4 Tbsp. butter (plus a little extra to grease the pan)
3/4 c. beer (room temp and flat is preferable)
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. Bourbon vanilla extract (or regular, if that’s what you’ve got)
For the sauce
3/4 c. milk (see note on milk above)
1/4 c. beer (room temp and flat)
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. flour
Set bread out to get a bit stale, a couple hours to overnight (the amount of time depends on the moistness of your bread, the dryness of the air, and your impatience). When you’re ready to make the pudding, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking dish with a bit of butter. Add cubed bread to dish and set aside.
Bring milk to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan. Add butter and allow to melt completely. Add beer, stir to combine and remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly. In the meantime, thoroughly whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add cooled milk mixture to the eggs slowly, stirring all the while.
Pour the egg/milk mixture over the bread in the baking dish, making sure to saturate all pieces. Place dish in the oven and bake 40-50 minutes, until pudding is set.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. About 10 minutes before serving, bring all of the ingredients for the sauce to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat and allow to sit 5 minutes. To serve, pour sauce over warm bread pudding.
Just as I suspected, the maltiness of the beer really compliments the breadiness of the pudding, and the little extra beer bitterness in the sauce is enough to please a more adult palate. And if you really must add raisins to your bread pudding, I reluctantly grant you permission. Just sprinkle them over the bread before you add the egg mixture. But as you do so, know that I am judging you heartily. Enjoy!