Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Bread Pudding

This is a festive and light holiday dessert that combines several seasonal favorites.   Cinnamon-sugar, almonds and sliced pears nestle into a loaf of eggnog infused bread pudding. We like ours with raisins but dried cranberries or cherries make the season bright too.  Leftovers make a terrific post holiday “French toast.”  Individual slices can be re-heated in the oven or grilled then dusted with extra cinnamon or powdered sugar. 

Bread pudding using an eggnog base makes sense since eggnog is basically a custard—milk, eggs and sugar.  If you have homemade eggnog leftover from a party, this is a good use for it.  You can also use store-bought eggnog.  Since the eggnog is cooked in the dessert, there is no raw egg in this recipe.

At this time of year it is easy to find fruited breads or ones made with eggs like challah, pannetone and paska.  You can use regular cinnamon-raisin bread for this recipe (or even regular bread) but if you have some day old holiday bread, pick that.  This recipe uses about half a loaf of most breads.  

Pear and Cinnamon Eggnog Holiday Bread Pudding

Ingredients
6-8 slices of raisin, paska or challah bread  (4 cups of 1/2 inch cubes)
(1/2 cup raisins if bread does not have raisins already)
12 ounces eggnog
2 eggs
1 ounce rum or brandy (optional)
1/4-1/3 cup sugar*
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash salt
1 pear, cored and sliced (peel if thick skinned)
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar

Method
  1. Lightly oil a 9x5 loaf pan with canola oil.  
  2. Place bread cubes in a wide bowl.  
  3. Combine eggnog, eggs, liquor if using, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a smaller bowl or 2-cup measuring cup. Whisk with a fork to break up eggs and combine thoroughly.  
  4. Pour eggnog mixture over bread cubes and toss lightly to cover all the bread with liquid. Move bread cubes to the prepared pan and press slices of pear into pudding so that slices are 2/3 submerged.  
  5. Sprinkle top with almonds and cinnamon sugar.   (Bread pudding may be covered and refrigerated at this point overnight or for several hours.) 
  6. Now, preheat oven to 375˚F.  (If you have not stored the bread pudding, waiting while the oven preheats will give the bread cubes time to absorb the liquid.)  
  7. When oven is pre-heated, bake bread pudding, uncovered, for 45 minutes.  Test in the center with a skewer for doneness.  Pudding is done when skewer comes out clean but still moist (no uncooked egg mixture on skewer) and pudding pulls away from sides of pan.  Let bread pudding rest about 10 minutes before serving. 

Serve slices warm with a scoop of plain , whole yogurt, whipped cream or ice cream and if desired a teaspoon of maple syrup.  Keep leftovers refrigerated. 

*Eggnog recipes vary.  Some are sweeter than others.  Test your mixture by using the lower amount of sugar and heating a bread cube doused with a few teaspoons of the eggnog mixture.  (Microwave on low for 30-45 seconds or until egg is cooked through).  Taste the cooked egg and bread and adjust for sweetness.