Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour

Start with a loaf of bread

Probably we all grew up with bread pudding in our mother's repertoire of things to do with leftover bread.

I remember when my sister-in-law was a sweet, very young bride who had grown up on a farm where money was scarce. The first time we were invited to dinner at their new home dessert was a slice of bread for everyone. The bread had been treated to fresh farm cream poured over it and brown sugar sprinkled on top. Under the broiler it went and it came out delicious. That was quick and easy but of course cream in those days cream was cream.

Toasted Bread-and-Butter Pudding

This is especially good served with caramel sauce or ice cream. Chocolate would be good, too. Sprinkle the top with a little nutmeg if you wish.

3 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
12 slices (1/2-inch thick) challah or firm white sandwich bread
3 cups half-and-half
4 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove crusts from bread and butter both sides. Arrange in one layer on a large baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven, turning over once, until lightly toasted, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Whisk together half-and-half, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until sugar is dissolved. Halve toasted bread slices diagonally and arrange triangles in rows, overlapping slightly, in a buttered 3-quart shallow baking dish. Pour the custard mixture over toast and let stand 15 minutes. Place the shallow baking dish in a roaster and fill roaster half of the way up the sides of the baking dish with boiling water. Bake pudding in this hot water bath until custard is set 2 to 3 inches from edges but still trembles in center, 50 to 60 minutes. The custard will continue to set as it cools.

Garlic Bread Worth Gargling For

Remember when no dish of pasta came to the table without garlic bread? It's also great with salads, steak from the grill, anything except breakfast *

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley**
1 loaf Italian bread

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mince and mash garlic to a past with a rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt, using the side of a heavy knife on a cutting board, or a garlic press. Stir together butter, oil and garlic paste in a bowl until smooth, and then stir in parsley. Without cutting completely through bottom, cut bread diagonally into 1-inch thick slices, and then spread garlic butter between slices. Wrap loaf in foil and bake in middle of oven 15 minutes, or on edge of grill. Open foil and bake 5 minutes more.

* Note: Bread can be spread with garlic butter 8 hours ahead and chilled, wrapped in foil. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking.

**You can substitute 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil for 1 tablespoon of parsley; or use both.

Steamed Marmalade Pudding

This is a handsome pudding having been shaped in a mold. It also travels well. Bake this in a metal or ceramic pudding mold or in a deep bowl with a lip. Custard Sauce dresses the pudding in high style.

1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sweet orange or lemon marmalade
1 1/2 cups fresh whole-wheat bread crumbs.

Stir together baking soda and orange juice. Toss raisins with flour. Beat together butter, sugar and salt with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add orange juice, raisins, marmalade and bread crumbs and mix on low speed until blended. Spoon batter into lightly buttered mold. Cover mold with lid or with a sheet of foil secured tightly with kitchen string. Place mold on a metal rack in a deep kettle. Add enough boiling water to reach halfway up the side of the mold. Then cover pot and steam pudding in simmering water, adding more boiling water as needed. When the surface of the pudding feels dry and firm, about 2 hours, it will be doe. Cool on another rack for 5 minutes. Loosen edge of pudding with a thin knife and invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm with sauce and/or whipped cream. If you wish to serve the pudding at another time, let it cool on a rack. Wash the mold or bowl that it was steamed in and replace the cooled pudding in the container. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator. It can be reheated in a microwave, in the oven, or on a rack in another pot of boiling water.

Custard Sauce

This is the traditional recipe for service with bread puddings. In this case orange zest compliments the orange marmalade in the pudding. Lemon zest could be substituted or rum flavoring could be used. The custard will keep, tightly covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated, up to 3 days.

1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 strip (4- by 1-inch) fresh orange zest
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Bring milk with zest to a simmer in small heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 20 minutes. Whisk together yolk, sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk in milk with zest, then transfer mixture to cleaned saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until custard thickens enough to coat back of a wooden spoon (170 F.). Immediately pour through a fine sieve into a bowl. Discard zest and stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Cover surface of custard with wax paper to prevent a skin from forming and chill until cold, at least 1 hour.

Don't throw bread away, send it to the table in disguise!

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