Thursday, 3 February 2011

Leftover Blueberries and Bread = Blueberry Bread Pudding

Happy midnight munchies, y'all!

Well, after a day off and much cooking on Tuesday, I found myself not at work again Wednesday. Throughout the day, temps continued to drop and the wind was certainly on a roll as the tall trees outside of my window shook; it seemed that even those were freezing. I tried my best to not cook, but after all my work from home was as done as it could be, I ended up rearranging my kitchen a bit to create a bit of a cooking island so I could cook more efficiently while watching the Food Network. (I rather like this new set-up; what do you think?) Anyway, with leftovers being the theme these past few days, I used up the rest of my blueberries and mini Italian bread to experiment and create my own version of blueberry bread pudding.

The recipe that follows requires a vessel that can hold about 3 c liquid. This time around, I opted for two 1.5 c baking vessels. In a metal bowl, I prepped 3 c bread, cut into 1" squares. In a separate bowl, I measured out 3 c milk and whisked in a beaten egg, to which I then whisked in 3/4 c granulated sugar and 3 pinches of freshly ground cinnamon. Once mixed, I poured this into the bowl of bread, giving it all a light stir to make sure the bread pieces began to sop up the liquid (really, a kind of custard at this point). Using a piece of cling wrap, I gently pressed everything down to aid in that sopping up stage, and left this in the refrigerator for about half an hour.

While the custard-soaking bread pieces were in the fridge, I prepped my baking vessels by lightly greasing the floor and wall of the vessels and sugaring each (just as I had done for my soufflé). After that half an hour in the fridge, take out the bread bowl and heat up the oven to 300°F. To the bowl, gently mix in 1/4 c washed blueberries. With a slotted spoon, spoon the bread pieces into the baking vessels. After you've fished out as much of the bread as you can, pour in the sugary-milky-custardy mix into the baking vessels. Above, you'll see I poured enough to almost over-flowing levels; this resulted in a super-saturated (but nevertheless tasty) bread pudding. I would suggest pouring enough to just fill the vessel to about 3/4 the height of the vessel itself. On top of the bread, spoon on 3 tbsp blueberry jam (I used my leftover orange blueberry reduction from last night's angel cake, as I had made too much). If you want a different flavour, feel free to try something else; just be sure the jam matches the fruit you incorporate into the custard/bread mix. Top all of this off with a crumble made of 2 tbsp dark brown sugar and 1 tsp room temp butter.

Now it's time to get these into the oven. Put the baking vessels in a shallow baking tray or, if you're uncomfortable with a shallow tray, a dish that will allow you to surround the vessels with at least 1/4" water without spilling the water everywhere; I put the empty tray with the vessels in first before carefully filling up the tray. What you're doing here is baking the bread pudding in a "water bath." If you do a bit of research, you'll find that many will suggest putting a dish rag underneath the baking vessels to add stability and soak up extra water, but I didn't see this as absolutely necessary. Do, however, have a dish rag available throughout the baking process, as every 15 minutes (for an hour of total cooktime), you'll have to check on the tray to make sure the water hasn't all evaporated; if the water level is too low or non-existent, you'll have to carefully replenish that water level. Though this may seem overly elaborate and unnecessary, the low temp/long time/water bath process promotes an even cooking temp, aids in the baking process of this delicate dessert and helps maintain moisture within the dessert itself. Remember you're dealing with egg and milk; high and rather uncontrolled heat will result in separation (which is why custard desserts are typically cooked in water baths).

After one hour in the oven, take the (now) cooked bread pudding and leave it in the water bath to cool off and set for at least 30 min (longer if you can wait). The sugars from both the jam and the dark brown sugar and butter crumble make a beautiful crust, and the smell of the blueberries is easily identifiable. With that touch of cinnamon, you know you're in for a treat.

Serve the bread pudding with a dusting of powdered sugar, a dollop of vanilla yogurt, and (if you're into chocolate) some roughly chopped chocolate chips. The chips add an unexpected (but welcomed) texture that melts in your mouth with the silky bread pudding and is further complimented by the rich yogurt. Not too bad for leftovers and additional pantry and fridge staples! For additional photos, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment