Tuesday, August 7, 2007

In Search of Comfort Food

It was a long weekend here in Canada. Sadly, it rained almost the entire time. I feel bad for all the optomistic campers out there who are convinced that the sun will shine as soon as Friday 4pm arrives. They are not so lucky, and while I will admit that leaving town for the three days even in a rainstorm is better than staying at home with not much to do, this weekend proved to be a lazy one. We spent most of it with R & J as usual, but this time they were kid-less which allows for lazy afternoons on the patio and trips to local pubs. The weekend also gave me time to bake yet again, still unphased by the brownie-cookie incident.

Rain always has a way of sending me in a search for a homey comforting dessert of some kind. Cookies and cake won't do it, a light fruity dessert is better for al fresco picnics of which there were none this weekend. No, I wanted something substantial that smelled like my Grandma's house. The only person that I could think of to fill this request was Martha Stewart.

As an aside, I have received many ribbings about my Martha obsession. But to them all, I gladly say that I would not be half the cook, baker and general homemaker if not for her tips and recipes. I have probably 6 years worth of back issues sitting in various piles around the apartment and nothing cheers me up more when I am searching for that "home" feeling.

While flipping through the October issues I have collected - and yes I know it is August right now - I came upon an entire article on the humble Bread Pudding. The basic recipe as well as 4 variations were included and I just knew that this was the recipe I was after. It was simple and would smell delicious and also feeds a crowd.

I made the Banana Rum version but the original is just as good. The secret ingredient I used was the Cinnamon Crunch bread from my local bakery which definitely was dense enough and flavorful enough to stand up to the rest of the ingredients. I would recommend using a denser loaf of bread and preferrably something a bit more exotic than basic challah although that is the easiest option. The recipe came out a bit too soupy and not as eggy as it should so I have tweaked it just a bit and come up with what I think is a fantastic bread pudding. A drizzle of caramel sauce and perhaps some whipped cream would also not go amiss.

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Martha Stewart's Bread Pudding
Banana Rum ingredients optional

1 large loaf bread - challah or dense sweet white bread
2c. milk
2c. cream
4 eggs
1 T. vanilla
1c. sugar
1t. cinnamon
1t. nutmeg
3T. rum
3T. butter
1/2c. brown sugar
2 large bananas, sliced

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Cut the bread into one inch cubes and set aside. Butter a 9x13 casserole dish and set aside.
Heat the milk and cream over medium until just starting to simmer. Remove from heat.
Whisk together the eggs, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Slowly add the warm milk, by ladlefulls, whisking well so as not to cook the eggs. Poor the mixture over the bread and stir to combine. Place mixture in greased dish and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until the top is brown and the middle is hot and bubbling.

For the rum banana version, add the rum to the custard mixture. Saute the bananas in the butter and brown sugar until soft. Stir the banana mixture into the bread and custard.


Janet said...

Where about in Canada do you live? I don't think it rained in Ottawa...

I love bread pudding, in any form.

Emily said...

I live in Alberta. This whole week has been rainy.

Trisha said...

Bread pudding = YUM!! Looks great!