Friday, December 10, 2010

Challah! French Toast Bread Pudding

Breakfast for dinner is always a winner in our house and we do it pretty often. I had picked up a loaf of challah bread on the last farm market day of the season, and had been saving it (in the freezer) for just the perfect occasion.

A couple good friends were coming over for dinner and I wanted to make something that wouldn't leave me doing prep work the whole time they was here, but would also taste yummy. Ina Garten's French Toast Bread Pudding seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

A couple recommendations:
  • Make sure you have a large loaf of challah. Mine was over a foot and a half long and it was perfect for the 9" x 13" pan.
  • Toast the bread if it isn't stale at 350ยบ for 10 minutes. It really helps prep the bread to absorb all the custard. Mmmm.... custard.
  • Cram your bread into the pan so there isn't any big spaces. If your bread pieces are too big, just cut them to size. 
  • A roasting pan is necessary for this recipe. The french toast bread pudding gets really puffy while it cooks under the foil, and if the pan isn't taller than your 9" x 13" is, bad things could happen.
  • Don't skip or skimp on the orange zest. It really makes this dish something special. 
  • Plan ahead. This takes an hour and a half to bake.
  • Next time I will warm my syrup, or make a fruity syrup to top it with. A favorite in our house is to heat pure maple syrup and frozen blueberries on the stove top for about 10 minutes. You get the little bonus nutrition from the blueberries with a great tasting syrup.
  • While it's baking, use that time to make a yummy cocktail to go with it. I'll be sharing the yummy cosmo we made tomorrow. It's a keeper.
French Toast Bread Pudding
Serves: 8

  • 1 large (or 2 small) challah loaf, sliced 3/4 inch thick
  • 8 extra-large eggs (I used large with no issues)
  • 5 cups half-and-half or milk (I used 2 cups of heavy cream and 3 cups of 1% milk)
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
  • 1 Tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Tsp kosher salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar and pure maple syrup, for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange the bread in two layers in a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish, cutting the bread to fit the dish. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half (or milk/cream), honey, orange zest, vanilla, and salt. Pour the mixture over the bread and press the bread down. Allow to soak for 10 minutes.

Place the baking dish in a larger roasting pan and add enough very hot tap water to the roasting pan to come an inch up the side of the baking dish. Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil, tenting it so the foil doesn’t touch the pudding. Make two slashes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes, remove the aluminum foil, and bake for another 45 minutes, until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

With a small sieve, dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar and serve hot in squares with maple syrup on the side.

Source: Ina Garten's How Easy is That? Cookbook

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