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Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Pudding with Maple Sauce

A luxurious bread pudding uses generous amounts of heavy cream, eggs and butter. Here, the eggs and butter in the challah or other egg bread provide that richness, while a pureed banana contributes creaminess without fat or cholesterol. Cinnamon sugar sprinkled over the top becomes a sparkling crust as the pudding bakes. The warm maple sauce, spiced with cinnamon and orange, adds a taste of New England. If possible, use dark grade B maple syrup, which has a wonderfully deep, intense flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 challah or other egg bread loaf, about 1 lb., torn into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 10 cups) 
  • 3/4 cup raisins 
  • 1 very ripe banana, peeled 
  • 4 eggs 
  • 3 cups 2-percent-fat milk 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  •   

For the maple sauce:

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup, preferably grade B 
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade 
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, each 3 inches long 
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

Place the bread pieces in a large bowl. Add the raisins and mix with your hands to distribute them evenly.

Place the banana in a bowl and mash with a fork until it is pureed, 3 to 4 minutes. In another bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Whisk in the milk, the pureed banana, all but 1 Tbs. of the sugar, 1 tsp. of the cinnamon and the vanilla, mixing well. Pour evenly over the bread. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan with canola-oil cooking spray.

Spoon the soaked bread mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing the top to level it. It will reach the rim of the pan. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1 Tbs. sugar and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the top of the pudding.

Bake the pudding until it has puffed about 1 inch above the rim of the pan, the top is medium brown and a knife inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool to lukewarm or room temperature.

Meanwhile, make the maple sauce. In a small fry pan, combine the maple syrup, marmalade, cinnamon sticks and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil gently, reducing the heat if necessary, until the liquid is reduced by one-third, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. You will have about 1 cup. Let cool to warm or room temperature before serving. Remove the cinnamon sticks.

Cut the pudding into wedges and place on individual plates. Spoon 2 Tbs. of the sauce over each wedge. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).