Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Panettone Bread Pudding



First of all, I have to thank our friend Trish for bringing us a beautiful loaf of panettone (which I had never tried before, but always wanted to) and therefore inspiring me to take on this recipe (This is kind of my version of Better Homes and Garden's bread pudding recipe).

Panettone is a type of sweet Italian bread that is traditionally enjoyed for Christmas. It has a wonderfully fluffy texture and a beautiful smell and may contain ingredients like different types of candied fruit, chocolate chips and some flavorings. Therefore it is actually a perfect option for taking the simple bread pudding to the next level.


Ingredients: (Serves 6-8)

  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
  • 5 cups (about 1/2 loaf) panettone, cut into 1 inch-cubes
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Place the panettone cubes onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring twice (every 5 minutes). This will dry the bread cubes and help them soak the custard and keep their texture.
  • In a bowl beat together the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla (and the optional ingredients, if desired).
  • Add the bread cubes into the bowl and make sure they are all coated with the custard.
  • Pour the custard into a 2-quart baking dish (preferably a square 8x8x2-inch baking pan).
  • Bake in the 350 F oven for about 40-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean (Start checking after 40 minutes - do not over bake!).
  • Cool slightly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Additional points:

  • If you can't find or do not want to use panettone, you can just use 5 cups of cubed regular bread - just do not skip the step of drying the bread in the oven first. Since panettone contains some ingredients and flavors, just adding a tablespoon of good old vanilla will do (although I would still add all the optional ingredients). But if using regular bread, I recommend that you add all the flavorings; plus, add 1/3 cup of your favorite dried fruit(s).
  • If you have never baked with cardamom before, definitely try it. It will fill your home with an enticing aroma.
  • Although it is always best to serve the bread pudding freshly baked, to serve the leftovers take the pudding out of the fridge and let it sit to come to room temperature; then heat each portion for 30 seconds in the microwave.

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