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Bread Pudding

A simple bread pudding is the perfect use for a day-old baguette or coarse country loaf. These breads have a similar texture and both have a rather bland flavor when stale, the perfect foil for a flavorful custard. Cut the bread into 3/4-inch slices, then cut again into 3/4-inch cubes. These bite-size pieces are perfect for soaking up all the custard yet still hold together well enough to give the dessert some texture.

Ingredients:

  • 12 slices day-old baguette, cut into 3/4-inch
      cubes
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions:

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Spread the bread cubes in it.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until well blended. Pour in the milk and whisk until combined. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes. Let stand, pressing down on the bread occasionally, until it is evenly soaked, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 350°F.

Scatter the cranberries evenly over the surface of the soaked bread and press to submerge the fruit. Set the baking dish in a large, shallow roasting pan. Add very hot tap water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

Bake the pudding until a knife inserted near the center comes out almost clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Generously dust the top of each slice with confectioners' sugar. Serves 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Dessert, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Simon & Schuster, 2002).