A few days ago I was looking in the cupboards when I came across a loaf of a fruit filled panettone bread. Looking at the expiration date it looks like it was a gift from last years Christmas. Making bread pudding is as straightforward as it gets. The base of bread pudding can consists of year old panettone bread or other bread of choice, your favorite flavor combos, and custard. From start to finish it takes about an hour to make.
Preheat oven to 375°. Take a medium sauce pan and put about a tablespoon of water in the bottom of the pan. This prevents the cream and milk from scorching. Add to the saucepan 1 ½ cups of milk (whole or 2%), ½ cup of heavy whipping cream, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 vanilla bean split, scraped, and bring to a boil.
While keeping an eye on your sauce pan cube about 16 oz of bread, place in a 9x13 baking dish, and set aside. By now your liquid should be up to a boil. Take off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. During the cooling time take a mixing bowl and mix 4 whole eggs with ⅜ cups of sugar until it’s completely incorporated.
Pour infused milk into the egg mixture and mix thoroughly. When both mixtures are fully incorporated pour ½ of the mixture over the bread and let stand for about 10 minutes. After the bread has had a chance to soak up some of the custard pour the rest of the custard over it and bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown.
A bread pudding isn’t complete without a sauce. I came across a French recipe for a salted caramel sauce in one of the Gourmet magazines a few months back and I can’t get enough of it. The salt adds intensity to anything sweet and a depth of flavor that is hard to describe.
To make enough sauce for your bread pudding take a small sauce pan and add ½ tablespoon of light corn syrup, ½ cup of sugar, and dissolve over medium to high heat. Occasionally swirl the pan until the sugar reaches a deep golden color. Once the sauce has reached the desired color stir in ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream and ¼ - ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and cook on low-medium heat. Stir the sauce until the salt is completely dissolved. After the salt has dissolved stir in 1-2 tablespoons of cold butter and serve.
The richness of the bread pudding along with the sweet, salty and complex flavors of the caramel sauce works really well together. If you don’t get a chance to make the bread pudding you have to at least make the caramel sauce. Use it for ice cream, waffles, or whatever you want because it is delicious.