Why yes, that gigantic whole wheat challah was turned into bread pudding.
We've never made bread pudding before this, since I remember that I didn't particularly care for the texture. But, it couldn't be helped. I certainly didn't want to waste that challah and throw it out! (Aside from about 4 slices, it was still whole and intact.)
I turned to Bittman once again for a base bread pudding recipe. Of course, I didn't really know how much "8 slices of white bread" are in comparison to our humongous challah. So, I simply winged it in terms of increasing the quantities of ingredients. I also added some things and changed some things around.
First, I followed the recipe and heated some milk with butter, sugar and salt. I decided to add some cardamom pods to the milk. Why not? I poured the warm cardamom-infused milk onto my torn pieces of challah. I let that sit for a minute or so while I beat some eggs. Then I poured the eggs over and mixed it all up.
(Just a note: if the milk wasn't that hot, is there any other reason pouring in just the milk first? Why not let the milk cool slightly and mix it and the eggs together? That makes it easier for the eggs to be incorporated.)
We happened to have blueberries on hand, so of course those went into the bread pudding. Instead of just sprinkling sugar on top, I made a crisp/crumble topping with butter, flour, oats and brown sugar. I didn't bother with the bain marie (or maybe I just forgot or didn't read the recipe carefully), so straight into the oven the bread pudding went. Then it was just a waiting game.
The yield: a lot; that being one 13 x 9 pan.
I think this bread pudding may have made me like bread puddings! Of course, the blueberries played a large role in this. Blueberry crisps are one kind of dessert that we have actually made more than a handful of times, and they're always hugely popular. Who can resist that crisp topping!
But, I think that perhaps this bread pudding wasn't as "custardy" or "eggy" (or wobbly) as others I've tasted in the past. Of course, this is no doubt the result of my "winging it" proportions of ingredients. This version of bread pudding was more dense. I like this texture more.
gratuitous mascarpone shot
Ice cream or gelato would've been perfect, but we didn't have on hand. We somehow had some mascarpone cheese, so that had to do. Not that we had any complaints.
[updated November 4, 2008 at 10:32 am]
Today's Recipe of the Day at Bitten, Mark Bittman's blog, is Sweet Bread Pudding! What are the chances! It's a different recipe from the one below. Here's the link: http://bitten.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/recipe-of-the-day-sweet-bread-pudding/
Basic Bread Pudding
from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything
makes 6 servings
The ingredients list is from the book, but the method has been paraphrased.
3 cups milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon
8 slices white bread, crusts removed if very thick
Preheat oven: 350F.
Warm milk, butter, cinnamon, 1/2 cup sugar and salt until the butter melts.
Butter/grease an 8-inch square baking dish. Cut/tear the bread in bite-sizes pieces and add to baking dish. Pour milk mixture over the bread. Let sit for a few minutes.
Beat eggs and pour into the bread mixture, swirling to get the egg incorporated all throughout.
Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over top. Place baking dish in a bain marie.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hr, until a knife through the center comes out clean. The center will be slightly wobbly. If you wish to brown the top, place dish under the broiler for a few seconds.