Before I knew any better, I was not a fan of bread pudding. “Bread” and “pudding” just never seemed to go together. That would be akin to combining potatoes and cake. Oh wait, there are potato cakes. Well, then, corn and pudding. Nope, there’s a corn pudding as well. Well, you know what I mean. I was young and innocent! My youthful version of pudding consisted of milk and powder from a package, vigorously whipped into a gelatinous state. That was as adventurous as I got.
Marrying Mr. O-P changed all of that. He loved bread pudding and had an excellent recipe. All it took was one taste and I was sold. Since that time I have been trying as many varieties as possible. When this recipe from Sunset 44 Bistro appeared in the November 12th edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch I knew it was in my future. I think it is probably one of the best bread puddings that I’ve ever tasted. I made the recipe as is with the exception of substituting challah for the sourdough. Over the years I’ve become a bit of a bread pudding snob and feel that challah is the best choice for the job. I make my own just for this purpose, but bake it in a loaf pan rather than taking the trouble to braid something that I’m just going to cut up anyway. You can find that recipe here. Or buy one at your local market. Challah not available? A package of croissants will do in a pinch.
Sunset 44 Bistro’s Bread Pudding
Yield: 12 servings
5 large eggs
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 cups of 40 percent cream
1 cup whole milk
½ tablespoon vanilla
Butter, for the pan
12 ounces day-old sourdough rolls, cut in 1-inch cubes
12 ounces white chocolate chips
For serving: caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream
About 18 hours before baking, quickly whisk eggs and sugar until light, fluffy, pale yellow and a “ribbon” falls from the whisk. Whisk in cream, milk and vanilla.
Butter a 9-by-13 pan and arrange bread cubes inside it. Pour egg mixture over top, spreading to distribute evenly, wetting all the pieces. Top with white chocolate. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 hours.
Heat oven to 300 degrees F.
Remove plastic wrap. With your fingers, gently lift bread pieces a bit, loosening the mixture. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour or until custard is tender but set in the center. (The bread pudding will puff near the end.) Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until top browns. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
To serve Sunset 44-style, drizzle a plate with caramel sauce. Cut bread pudding into rounds, using the scraps to press into additional rounds. Place a warm bread pudding in the center of the plate and top with a scoop of ice cream.
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