Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Winter Baking Land
We've had a really weird winter, weatherwise, thus far. Last year we saw more snow than we had in decades and this year, nothing. Not a flake. We're coasting along in the balmy mid-50's (F). It makes me feel just a little guilty when I read about the poor people on the other side of the country who are getting beaten up by storm after storm, dumping tons of snow, to the point that people can't leave their houses. Yikes!
I wish I could send along some of our warmer weather. But since that's not really a feasible plan, I'll turn my oven on in solidarity with my fellow frozen citizens. Warm up the kitchen and bring on the comfort.
There is something immeasurably comforting about warm, messy food. It's not meant to be pretty (and as you can see from my pictures, it's not!), but it is certainly delicious. And just a bit will fend off the horrors of the day and give you hope that everything's going to be OK. Even if you can't dig down deep enough to get to the snow shovel.
Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding
- adapted from Baking Kids Love
1/2 loaf bread (white, challah, or Italian), about 8.5 oz
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1-3/4 cups milk
1-3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup dried, sour cherries
Whipped cream, for topping
1- Preheat oven to 325 deg. F with a rack in the center of the oven. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan or pie pan with cooking spray.
2- Cut the crusts off the bread (you can discard or save to feed the birds or make into bread crumbs). Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
3- Measure 4 cups of the bread cubes. The remainder can be saved in a plastic bag in the cupboard or freezer for future use.
4- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and salt until completely blended. Whisk in the milk, cream, and vanilla and blend well. Add the toasted bread cubes to the bowl and stir them into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes, then remove the bowl from the refrigerator and stir the mixture to make sure the bread soaks up the custard evenly. Return to the refrigerator for another 10 to 20 minutes, or until the bread has soaked up most of the custard and looks very soft. (If you turned off the oven after toasting the bread, turn it back on now.)
5- Stir the chopped chocolate and cherries into the mixture. Scrape the mixture into the baking dish and press it into an even layer. Bake for 50 to 70 minutes, or until slightly puffed, golden brown, and set in the center.
6- Transfer to the cooling rack and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream. Leftovers (as if!) should be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. REheat in a 325 deg. F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until warmed through.