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.


Debbie said...

I live in northern Virginia and haven't seen snow like this since I grew up on Long Island years and years ago. It's a mess here. Your photos are gorgeous...please send me a slice since I'm out of cherries and heavy cream.....

Melanie said...

I just moved from Florida to northern KY. and we have been blasted with snow. I am sick of it:( I have gained 2 lbs. too since we got up here. I do not need anything sweet to eat:(

grace said...

count your blessings, lynn--our winter this year has been dreadful!
meanwhile, at first i thought your title said 'winter baking lard' and was put off for a minute. then i thought, 'no, i'm okay with that.' :)

Maria said...

Oooh, this looks so comforting.

Melinda said...

Bread and butter pudding is one of my very favourites! Your recipe sounds so good.
I was feeling cold while we were watching a TV programme. When it finished I got up to put out the dog and it has snowed again! There is a
complete covering of snow everywhere.
The dog was disgusted!

Aimée said...

LOVE chocolate and cherries together.

Oddly enough, we've been having an uncharacteristically lovely February.

Elle said...

Bread pudding is the best messy looking dessert! Love your flavor combo Lynn!

Karen Baking Soda said...

White again when I woke up this morning and I'm supposed to put up a tent ths weekend (just for storage purposes because our garage will be dismantled but still)
Winter baking is good whatever the weather!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Chocolate anc cherries will do it. Can you believe that we have had no snow whatsoever so far this winter and I live in Western Canada:D

Homemade Heaven said...

After the killer hot day we had yesterday (35°C), I can only dream of serving something this comforting. I know it won't be long before I am back here to search out all these winter warmers - but certainly not yet.

CaSaundraLeigh said...

We usually get more snow than we have here in northern MN. Looks like it is all going elsewhere!!

Your bread pudding looks fabulous--I have never tried whipping one together, but it is defintely on my list of to-do's in the kitchen :-)

Anonymous said...

Warm and messy is what winter food is all about!