Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bread Pudding!

I have had a couple of bread loaves totally crumble because stars haven't been aligning while preparing or baking them--CRAZY frustrating, and all my fellow GF bread bakers or consumers can understand. I still saved the pieces because I'm cheap and refuse to throw away that work. Then we got a cold snap here in KC and a friend mentioned BREAD PUDDING on facebook. *lightbulb!* Only we were moving out of our house of 10 years, so I had to wait until I got somewhat re-settled in our new, temporary digs. I wanted a recipe with the taste of brandy or rum raisin, but without the alcohol because my husband is Muslim (and doesn't drink) and because I'd like to not get the kids drunk. After looking at dozens of recipes on the web, this is what I came up with--the most basic that still had a hint of a kick for me (who is used to the alcoholic version). I've never made Bread pudding before, but it's always been one of my favorite holiday (and wedding reception) dessert treats.

(GF) Bread Pudding

5 eggs, beaten
4.5 c milk (cream or half and half would be SO much yummier, though)
.5-1 c raisins
1 c sugar
.5 c butter, melted
Half loaf bread (normal size of a GF loaf, lol), torn into pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp brandy extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
dash cardamom

*Preheat oven to 350F.
*Tear bread into bite-ish sized pieces or slightly larger. (OR collect all those useless crumbled bits from your GF loaves. Looking forward to their becoming part of my bread pudding has saved me some frustration about the fact that the damn loaves fall to pieces if weather conditions while baking aren't exactly perfect.) Anyway, I spread them on a baking sheet covered in foil (so I can be lazy about clean up later) and pop them in the oven while it preheats and let them dry out a bit more.
*Melt your butter. (The easiest way to do this is to put it in a small bowl and microwave in 15-sec intervals at 30% power. 30% is a magical, non-burning setting. I promise.)
*Drizzle the melted butter over the toasted bread pieces, toss, and put back in the oven to toast some more.
*In a saucepan, pour your milk, sugar, raisins, vanilla, brandy extract, and spices. Heat over a LOW setting, stirring often, making sure the sugar dissolves completely, until the raisins are a bit plumped. (You DO NOT want bubbles to form--this is scalding the milk--so I mean LOW heat here.)
*In a separate, larger bowl, beat eggs and set aside.
*Take bread out of the oven to cool. When cool, transfer bread to a greased 9x9 or similarly-sized baking dish. (See? Aren't you glad you covered in foil so you don't have a greasy mess to wash?)
*When the milk/raisin mixture is finished, pull off heat and cool to about room temperature (in a cold water bath if you're in a hurry) before adding to the eggs. (DO NOT add hot milk to the eggs, or you'll only achieve cooked egg mixture in sweet milk, rather than a custard starter!)
*Pour the egg/milk/raisin mixture over the buttered bread crumbs. Toss gently to distribute the raisins evenly and to give the bread some time to soak up some of the liquid.
*Bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes, until center springs back up and no liquid seeps up when pressed. (Yeah, that's a 15-minute window. You're just gonna have to keep an eye on it.)

Serve warm, and with or without vanilla ice cream.

Note: It's worth noting that I was afraid I'd have too much liquid, but was surprised when the finished product was actually very bread-y. Next time, I won't wait until I have so many bread pieces before making my yummy consolation prize--which is actually better than having non-crumbling bread in the first place, really.