Monday, October 6, 2014

Challah Bread Pudding

First, I want to say, "Happy birthday to my papa!"

Guys, Thanksgiving is like, a month and a half away. It's seriously one of my most favorite holidays ever. As a kid, I grew up eating a ton of Korean food so Thanksgiving was the one day a year that my whole family really celebrated being American with tons of food that would never grace a typical Korean dinner table.

In recent years, I've been throwing really delicious, exclusive Thanksgiving dinners at my house. It's an exclusive event because we like to buy tiny turkeys (under 10 lbs) so we can only invite maybe 3 or 4 people (in addition to our little default party of 3). Smaller turkeys are more delicious so we refuse to get bigger birds. It's basically become a family tradition. Another tradition is having bread pudding for dessert. Last year, I made a spin on my vanilla bean bread pudding using challah bread and omitting all the frills (nuts and raisins). It was delicious.

So, as we get ready for the best food-centric holiday of the year, I'm going to do my best to share appropriate recipes, starting with this challah bread pudding.
Ingredients:
½ loaf challah
2 cups light cream
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
+ more butter for greasing

Challah is a Jewish braided bread that's incredibly fluffy and slightly sweet and it's the perfect bread for dessert-y applications like french toast or a Nutella sandwich or a bread pudding.
Grab your challah and cut it into thick slices and then cut the thick slices into little cubes. I like my bread cubes on the order of 1" x 1" x 1". Spread the cubes out onto a sheet pan and bake at 350F for 10 to 15 minutes until they start to get toasty and just lightly golden brown.

While the challah croutons are cooling, get working on the custard base. Grab a big bowl and pour in the cream and milk. Scrape the caviar out of a vanilla bean and add that in too. Add some vanilla extract, salt, brown sugar, white sugar, melted butter, and eggs. Give the whole thing a good whisk to combine.
Grease your favorite baking dish. For this amount of challah, I recommend a deep 9" x 13" dish.
Carefully layer in the bread cubes, minimizing any empty space by shoving in smaller croutons where there are gaps.
Pour the custard base all over the challah. Then, pop this bad boy in the oven and bake at 300F for an hour.
The bread pudding will be gorgeous after it's baked. The pieces on top will have gotten a lovely tan while the pieces on bottom will be soaked in velvety custard.
Let the bread pudding cool for a little while before serving. I like when it's still just slightly warm.
I think it's the most delicious when it's served with a pretty scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, homemade if you have it.
I mean, come on.
There are bits of crunch from the toasty top layer of challah cubes and really deliciously soft (but not mushy) bits from the custard-soaked bottom layer of challah cubes. And when the warm bread pudding meets the cold ice cream, it's magical. And the best part, besides the fact that this is so easy to slap together, is that you can make this a day or two ahead of time. It can be re-warmed in the oven, if desired. It doesn't lose any integrity; it's just as good the next day as it is when it's popped fresh out of the oven.
Here's the recipe page:

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