Thursday, December 3, 2009
Cranberry Bread Pudding with Orange Hard Sauce
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I'm probably a member of the last generation raised in kitchens where nothing was wasted, including stale bread and leftover rice. Rice and bread puddings were fixtures of my childhood. Bread pudding, both sweet and savory, has a long history in the annals of cooking. It can be traced to peasant kitchens where frugal and often hungry cooks refused to discard stale bread. The earliest recipe for bread pudding can be traced to a book called "The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy" by Hannah Glasse. It was published in 1747. Her recipe, save for instructions written in old English, is quite similar to those in use today. She adds butter, eggs and milk to stale bread and steams (boils) her pudding to completion. I prefer to bake mine.
I have a sentimental attachment to Cranberry Bread Pudding. It is, of course, delicious, but it's also one of the first recipes I entered into amateur recipe competition. It didn't embarrass me and it's stood the test of time. I make this at least once during the holiday season. The original recipe used croissants. I urge you to use these if possible. The pudding shown in today's post was made with a raisin sweet bread because that is what I had on hand. Pumpkin pie spice is used to keep the number of ingredients used in the recipe under control. That's important in competition recipes, but less so in the confines of your own kitchen. I'm inserting a list of spices within the recipe that can be used in case you don't keep pumpkin pie spice in your pantry. This pudding is packed with down-home flavor and it's a wonderful addition to the holiday dessert table. The hard sauce is to die for - really! Here's the recipe.
Cranberry Bread Pudding with Orange Hard Sauce...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
14 ounces (approximately 7 large) stale croissants, cut into 1-inch cubes and lightly toasted
1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice or
. 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
. 3/4 teaspoons ground ginger
. 3/8 teaspoons allspice or ground cloves
. 3/8 teaspoons nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or
.1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
.1/4 teaspoon ginger
.1/8 teaspoon allspice or ground cloves
.1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 2 1/2-quart (9x11 x3-inch) baking dish.
2) Arrange half of croissants pieces on bottom of prepared dish; sprinkle with cranberries, then cover with remaining croissants. Set aside.
3) Combine eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 cup brown sugar, melted butter, salt, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, orange zest and juice in a blender container; pulse until well combined. Pour mixture over cubed croissants, pressing down with back of large spoon to moisten. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
4) To make topping, combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl; sprinkle on top of croissant mixture.
5) Place dish in a large roasting pan; transfer pan to middle shelf of the oven. Pour hot water into roasting pan until it comes halfway up the sides of dish. Bake until the custard is softly set, about 55 minutes.
6) While pudding bakes, prepare Orange Sauce: Combine butter, 1 cup brown sugar, flour, salt, water, zest, juice and vanilla in a heavy 2-quart saucepan; cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and looks syrupy.
7) Allow pudding to cool about 20 minutes before serving. Pass the sauce separately in a sauce boat. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.