Sep 4, 2015

Sweet & Savory Bread Pudding

Bread pudding has been around since the 11th century when frugal cooks looked for a way to use up stale, leftover bread. Today, bread pudding is considered a sweet comfort food served at the end of a meal. In Hawaii, bread pudding is often made with day-old cubed Hawaiian sweet bread instead of traditional French bread.

Actually there are two types of bread pudding, sweet & savory. A savory bread pudding is a crispy, warm, and always savory, not sweet, bread pudding that consists of a number of baked layers of bread, meat, cheese and vegetables that are held together with custard, and is called a "strata". The word "strata" is the plural of the Latin word "stratum", meaning "layers". It is usually served for brunch, but can be served for lunch or dinner. With a strata, the possibilities are as endless as your creativity and the leftovers in your refrigerator.

Sweet Bread Pudding Recipes:

Hawaiian Mango Sweet Bread Pudding
Ingredients for bread pudding:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
6 cups (1-inch) day-old cubed Hawaiian sweet bread
2 cups diced peeled ripe mango (1/2 pound)
Cooking spray
1/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted

Ingredients for sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup mango nectar
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 350°. To prepare bread pudding, combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in bread and mango. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Pour mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour. Sprinkle with coconut. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until set. Let stand 30 minutes before serving.

To prepare sauce, combine sugar and mango nectar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter. Combine the cornstarch and evaporated milk in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to nectar mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Serve warm over bread pudding. Makes 8 servings.

Banana Bread Pudding with Banana Rum Sauce
6 cups bite-sized pieces of day-old French bread
3 cups milk
3 large eggs
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 large very ripe bananas
3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup roasted pecans
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Put the French bread pieces into a 9x12x2 inch baking pan. In a blender or food processor, blend the eggs, milk, 2/3 cup of sugar, bananas, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla until smooth. Pour this mixture over the French bread pieces. Fold in the raisins and the pecans and let the mixture set for 20 minutes. Top with small pieces of the butter.

Cover the pudding with aluminum foil and place the pan into a larger pan. Add warm water to a depth of 1 inch in the larger pan. Bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 15 minutes until set.

In a deep, medium bowl, whisk the cream just until it begins to thicken. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Continue whisking unti soft peaks form. Cover and chill.

Banana Rum Sauce
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
6 large ripe bananas, quartered
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons banana liqueur
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat a large saute pan or skillet over low heat. Add the butter, sugar, bananas, cinnamon and nutmeg. Moving the skillet back and forth, cook until the butter and sugar become creamy and the bananas begin to soften, about one minute. Remove the skillet from heat and add the rum and the liqueur. Return the pan to the heat. Tilt the pan, avert your face and and light the liquid with a long match. Shake the skillet until the flames subside. Add the vanilla, remove from heat and keep warm.

To serve, place a large scoop of bread pudding in the middle of each serving plate or bowl. Place 2 slices of banana on each plate and top with about 3 tablespoons of sauce. Spoon the whipped cream over the bread pudding and serve immediately. Makes 12 servings.

Berry Bread Pudding with Vanilla Cream Sauce
Ingredients for bread pudding:
1 (16-ounce) French bread loaf, cubed
1 cup frozen raspberries (do not thaw)
1 cup frozen blackberries (do not thaw)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 3/4 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
Vanilla Cream Sauce (recipe below)
Garnishes: fresh raspberries, powdered sugar

Procedure for bread pudding:
Arrange half of bread pieces in a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Arrange frozen berries in a single layer over bread. Top with remaining bread pieces.

Whisk eggs and next 6 ingredients until smooth. Slowly pour egg mixture over bread, pressing down with a wooden spoon until bread absorbs mixture. Let stand 20 minutes.

Bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover, brush evenly with 2 tablespoons melted butter; sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons sugar, and bake 30 more minutes or until set. Remove from oven, and let stand 30 minutes. Serve with Vanilla Cream Sauce. Garnish, if desired. Makes 10 servings.

Ingredients for vanilla cream sauce:
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Procedure for vanilla cream sauce:
Stir first 3 ingredients together in a saucepan. Add butter, and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture begins to boil. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Serve warm. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
5 1/2 ounce sugar (about 2/3 cup)
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2 1/4 ounces unsweetened cocoa (about 1/2 cup)
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 3/4)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
12 ounces (1-inch) cubed French bread (about 10 cups)
Cooking spray
1 ounce sugar (about 2 tablespoons)

Combine 5 1/2 ounces sugar and eggs in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Heat milk over medium-high heat in a small, heavy saucepan to 180°F or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; add cocoa and chocolate, stirring with a whisk until cocoa dissolves and chocolate melts. Gradually add hot milk mixture to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add bread, tossing to coat; let mixture stand for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Spoon bread mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle 1 ounce of sugar evenly over bread mixture. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes or until set. Serve warm. Makes 8 servings.

Note: Measuring the bread by weight is important in this recipe-12 ounces of cubed bread can vary from seven to 10 cups. If you use too little bread, the dessert will be loose and wet; too much bread, and it will be dry. But just the right amount yields a decadently creamy, rich dessert.

Savory Bread Pudding Recipes:

Tomato, Basil, and Roasted Garlic Strata
3 pounds Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
salt & freshly grated pepper
1 head garlic, left whole
10 cups cubed (1-inch) country-style Italian bread (1 pound)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 large eggs
2 cups coarsely grated fresh Mozzarella cheese (9 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish (about 13 by 9 inches).

Toss tomatoes in a bowl with chopped fresh basil, 1 tablespoon oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in a large heavy 4-sided sheet pan.

Cut off and discard 1/4 inch from top of garlic head to expose cloves, then put on a sheet of foil and drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Wrap garlic in foil and roast in pan with tomatoes until tomatoes are browned but still juicy and garlic is soft, 50 to 60 minutes. (Leave oven on.) Cool garlic to warm, then force through a medium-mesh sieve with a rubber spatula, discarding skins. Reserve purée

While garlic cooks, toss bread cubes in a large bowl with remaining oil until coated, then spread out in a large 4-sided sheet pan and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, garlic purée, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir in cheeses. Transfer bread to baking dish, then pour egg mixture over bread and add tomatoes, pushing some down between bread cubes. Bake until firm to the touch and golden brown in spots, 50 to 60 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Squash, Leek & Mushroom Strata
3 cups cubed butternut or kabocha squash, cut into 3/4-in. chunks
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
About 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed well
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
6 cups cubed rustic white bread, cut into 1-in. cubes, lightly toasted
3 cups half-and-half
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Heap squash on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with oil and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Bake, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add leeks with 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until softened. Add garlic, cook 2 minutes, and add mixture to squash.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until mushrooms have released their liquid and are beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in thyme.

Add mushrooms to squash-leek mixture. Stir in bread; scoop into a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Whisk together half-and-half, eggs, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the flour, and parmesan in a medium bowl. Pour custard over bread mixture and let stand 10 minutes. Top with shredded gruyère cheese, then bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and beginning to brown and custard is just set (poke with a knife to check), 30 to 35 minutes. Makes 8-10 servings.

Italian Sausage Strata 
with Roasted Red Pepper & Swiss Chard
1-pound loaf French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
Olive oil
1 pound of mild Italian sausage
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
One 10-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped, or roast your own over a burner.
1 bunch of Swiss chard, washed and cut into ribbons
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 ounces Asiago cheese, grated
9 large eggs
2 3/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, turning occasionally, until it starts to brown in places and begins to dry out, about 10 minutes.

In a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat, add a teaspoon of olive oil. When the oil is warm, add the sausages. Sear until nicely browned, about 7 minutes. Remove from the frying pan and cut into bite-size pieces when cool enough to handle.

Leave any remaining olive oil in the pan and melt the butter. Add the onions, and a sprinkle of salt and sauté until the onions are golden brown and softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped roasted peppers, cooked sausage, Swiss chard, and thyme. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Grease a 9×13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish generously with butter. Add half of the bread cubes. Layer with two-thirds of the sausage mixture, then add a layer of half the cheese. Repeat the layering with half the remaining bread, then the remaining sausage mixture and cheese.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and ground black pepper. Pour this mixture evenly over the bread. Press the bread mixture down into the egg mixture to saturate. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

The next day, remove the bread pudding from the refrigerator and let stand for 30 to 60 minutes to take the chill off. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the bread pudding, uncovered, until golden brown, puffed, and cooked through, about 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6-8 servings.

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