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December Features
Year-round bread puddings

Year-round bread puddings
Bread puddings go beyond desserts

—by Robert J. Benes

Photo caption: WHITE CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING

Bread pudding is a savory food that needs no explanation to chefs or diners. Everybody knows exactly what it is, and everybody loves eating it. “Bread puddings catch everyone’s attention,” says Brenton Hammer, chef de cuisine at Celia in The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. “To me, bread puddings have a connotation of youth and one’s childhood. The food evokes nostalgia.”
As diners are becoming more adventurous, so do chefs. Traditionally, bread pudding is served as a warm dessert that has raisins, plums, dates, chocolate or nuts to name a few ingredients. It’s often served with a rich and savory sauce made with butter, port wine, whiskey, rum or bourbon. But now restaurants are serving bread puddings as appetizers and entrées. Bread pudding recipes may include mushrooms, lobster, cheese, shallots, tarragon , garlic and more.
Bread puddings are also being served year-round, not just at holidays. “A lot of chefs tend to shy away from bread puddings in the summer months,” says Hammer. “It’s a warm and filling food that’s best served in the fall and winter months. But, it all depends on the chef’s preference and restaurant.
“Bread pudding are easy to make and generally inexpensive. A lot depends on the ingredients one might use,” he continues. “It’s something that every chef should know how to make.”
Here are a few bread puddings that can satisfy any diner at any age at any time of the year.

SAVORY BREAD PUDDING WITH WILD
MUSHROOM AND THYME
Chef de cuisine Brenton Hammer
Celia, The Pfister Hotel
Milwaukee, Wis.
Yield: 16 portions

8 egg yolks
1 loaf white bread
2 lbs. assorted mushrooms
4 T. butter
1 qt. cream
1 oz. fresh thyme
Salt and pepper as needed

Method: Place eggs in a large stainless-steel bowl and set aside. Cut crusts from bread, into one-inch cubes and set aside. Butter an 8 x 8 baking dish and preheat the oven to 350°F. Slice mushrooms and sauté slowly in butter in a medium-sized saucepan. When mushrooms soften, add cream, turn heat down to medium-low and allow mixture to come to a simmer, for 30 to 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (For more mushroom flavor, add a half can of cream of mushroom soup). Clean thyme leaves from branches and add to cream. Remove from heat and pour cream mixture into egg yolks slowly while whipping continuously. Pour egg and cream mixture back into the sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens slightly, enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat immediately and refrigerate for about 20 minutes until mixture reaches room temperature. Pour mixture over cubed bread and mix gently, soaking bread cubes completely. Place mixture into the prepared baking dish and place in the oven for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven. Serve bread pudding warm or at room temperature. To reheat, place in a 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

WHITE CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING
Executive chef David Springett
Planet Hollywood International, Inc.
Orlando, Fla.
Yield: 9 portions

Bread pudding
32 oz. French bread (dried overnight in a covered container)
9 egg yolks
1 3/4 c., plus 2 T. granulated sugar (divided)
1 c. milk
2 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 t. vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. white chocolate pieces
1/4 c. butter

Whiskey sauce
5 eggs
2 1/4 c. butter
4 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. Jim Bean bourbon

Method: Bread pudding: Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat yolks and 1 1/4 oz. of sugar. In pan, heat milk, remaining sugar, heavy cream, vanilla over medium heat, whisking constantly. As mixture begins to boil, turn down heat. Add 2 ladles of milk mixture to egg mixture in bowl and whisk to bring the eggs up to temperature. Add egg mixture to rest of pan mixture. Stir 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in white chocolate until smooth. Pour over bread. Let set 4 hours. Place bread in buttered 10 x 12 x 2 baking pan. Cover with layer of plastic food service film, then top with foil. Place baking pan inside larger pan. Pour in water to come up halfway around sides of bread-filled pan. Bake 45 minutes. Cool. Whiskey sauce: Beat eggs. Melt butter in heavy-bottom pan. Add sugar. Heat to simmering. Do not to boil. Add bourbon, stirring. Continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes until bubbles form around edges of pan. Add 2 ladles of bourbon mixture to beaten eggs to bring the eggs up to temperature. Add all of beaten egg mixture to bourbon mixture, whipping constantly. When incorporated, strain.

BREAD PUDDING SOUFFLE WITH
WHISKEY SAUCE
Executive chef Tory McPhail
Commander’s Palace
New Orleans, La.
Yield: 6 portions

Bread pudding
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

3 medium eggs
1 c. heavy cream
1 t. vanilla extract
5 c. New Orleans French bread
1/3 c. raisins

Whiskey sauce
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 T. cornstarch
1 T. water
3 T. sugar
1/4 c. bourbon

Meringue
9 medium egg whites
1/4 t. cream of tartar
3/4 c. sugar


Method: Bread pudding: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs until smooth, then work in heavy cream. Add vanilla, then bread cubes. Allow bread to soak up custard. Place raisins in a greased pan. Top with egg mixture to prevent raisins from burning. Bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until pudding has a golden brown color and is firm to touch. If a toothpick inserted in pudding and comes out clean, it is done. Mixture of pudding should be nice and moist, not runny or dry. Cool to room temperature. Whiskey sauce: Place cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Whisk cornstarch and water together, and add to cream while whisking. Bring to a boil. Whisk and let simmer for a few seconds, taking care not to burn the mixture on the bottom. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar and bourbon. Taste to make sure sauce has a thick consistency, a sufficiently sweet taste, and a good bourbon flavor. Cool to room temperature. Meringue: Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter six 6-oz. ramekins. Be certain that bowl and whisk are clean. Egg whites should be completely free of yolk, and they will whip better if the chill is off them. This dish needs a good, stiff meringue. In a large bowl or mixer, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Add sugar gradually, and continue whipping until shiny and thick. Test with a clean spoon. If whites stand up stiff, like shaving cream, when you pull out the spoon, meringue is ready. Do not over whip, or whites will break down and the soufflé will not work. In a large bowl, break half the bread pudding into pieces using your hands or a spoon. Gently fold in 1/4 of meringue, being careful not to lose the air in the whites. Add a portion of this base to each of the ramekins. Place the remaining bread pudding in the bowl, break into pieces, and carefully fold in the rest of the meringue. Top off the soufflés with this lighter mixture, to about 1 1/2 inches. Smooth and shape tops with spoon into a dome over the ramekin rim. Bake immediately for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately. Using a spoon, poke a hole in the top of each soufflé, at the table, and pour the room temperature whiskey sauce inside the soufflé.

RUM RAISiN BREAD PUDDING
American Egg Board
Park Ridge, Ill.
Yield: 24 portions

1 gal., plus 10 cups day-old bread, cubed
2 c. raisins
16 large eggs, slightly beaten
5 1/2 c. skim milk
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 T ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 T. rum flavoring
1 1/2 T. vanilla extract

Method: Place bread cubes and raisins on bottom of spray-coated, full-size steamable pan. In mixing bowl, blend eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, rum flavoring and vanilla. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes. Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes. Bake in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes or until golden and knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes before serving.

CHOCOLATE Brownie and BRIOCHE BREAD PUDDING
Pastry chef Jan Purdy
Max Restaurant
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Yield: 8 to10 servings (6 oz. soufflé cup)

9-inch by 5-inch loaf of brioche bread

Custard
5 eggs
4 yolks
2 1/2 c. cream
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 T. vanilla
1/4 c. frangelico
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
4 to 5 T. softened butter (for greasing cups)
Continued on page 27
Continued from page 15

Brownies
Yield: 9-inch by 9-inch pan
1 T. butter (to grease pan)
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
3/4 c. sugar, plus 2 T. sugar
4 oz. unsalted butter
4 T. water
2 eggs
1 yolk
3/4 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 c. semi-weet chocolate chips

Dark chocolate cake
Yield: 9-inch by 3-inch pan
1 T. butter (to grease pan) and 2
T. all-purpose flour (to dust
pan)
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cake flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 c. sugar, plus 2 T. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 1/4 t. vanilla extract
2/3 c. milk
2/3 c. boiling water

Hazelnut streusel
Yield: 8 cups
8 oz. unsalted butter
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/4 c., all-purpose flour
2 c. hazelnuts, skinned and
coarsely chopped

Method: Custard: Mix eggs until well blended. Add remaining ingredients except chocolate chips and butter. Whisk well. Divide custard into 2 bowls. Brownie: Preheat oven to 300°F (convection oven) or 325 F (regular oven). Use butter to grease pans. Melt Chocolate, sugar, butter and water in double boiler over low heat and allow to cool to room temp. Add eggs and yolk one at a time, than vanilla and blend well. Add flour and salt and blend just enough to incorporate. Do not over mix. Pour into greased pan and top with chocolate chips. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Do not over bake. Allow to cool completely. Dark chocolate cake: Preheat oven to 300°F (convection oven) or 325°F (regular oven). Butter and flour pan. Sift all dry ingredients and set aside. Blend eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla and milk in mixer on medium speed. Add sifted dry ingredients to blend on medium-high for 3 minutes. Stir in boiling water. Blend well, scraping bottom of the bowl. Pour into prepared cake pan. Bake approximately 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out moist crumbs. Allow to cool completely. Hazelnut: Blend butter, sugar and flour in mixer with paddle attachment on low until mixture appears as a fine crumb (approximately 3 to 4 minutes). Add nuts and blend briefly. Watch closely and do not over mix or streusel will clump.

Assembly Procedure: 1) Preheat oven to 300°F (convection oven) or 325°F (regular oven). Divide custard into 2 bowls. Soak brioche cubes in one-bowl and brownie pieces in a second bowl for half hour. Do not soak cake pieces. They will absorb custard during baking. 2) Prepare all soufflé cups with a generous coating of butter (allow 1/2 T. per cup or the pudding will stick when unfolded) and begin first layer of soaked brioche, brownie and cake pieces. Distribute for an even look and pack tightly. Place half of the chocolate chips evenly throughout this first layer. 3) Pour enough extra custard to come just below the rim of cups and repeat process of second layer of bread, brownie, cake and chocolate chips. Pour remaining custard into cups. Cover with a generous layer of hazelnut streusel and pack firmly on top. Bread should not show through. Crown of pudding will be one inch or higher above the cup. 4) Place cups in baking pans large enough to hold them and fill pan with enough warm water to come half way up the sides of the cups. 5) Bake approximately 50 minutes. Regular oven may take up to one hour. Check the center of one cup. Custard should no longer be runny and liquid, only moist. 6) Remove puddings from water bath and allow to cool at least one hour before serving. If preferred, reheat in a 325°F oven before serving or micro waved at high for one minute. 7) Hold a towel over crown of pudding and turn upside down. Tap side of cup firmly against countertop to release. Flip pudding right side up on to plate. Serve with a caramel and a vanilla sauce.




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