winter

Listen to me: This is what you do next time you have leftover bread, the kind that’s sitting around on your counters, clogging up space, suddenly as rock-hard as a baseball bat, tempting you to throw it away. It’s what you do when you want to whip together dessert and do it as mindlessly as possible, using up things you already have. And, most importantly, it’s what you do when it’s the second week of January and there’s snow all around you, covering the roads and the trees and the people and freezing on your car and making you wish you lived in Florida—until you remember hearing they’re having bizarrely cold weather, too.

You make bread pudding.

bread pudding

Now that we’ve settled firmly into the winter after the holidays, the winter of icy temperatures and big snowstorms and longer commutes that don’t double your road trip to Thanksgiving dinner but to work every morning, it’s time for the kinds of foods that are steamy, gooey and creamy inside. This bread pudding, which is a cinch to whip together, fills your kitchen with the scents of cinnamon and nutmeg and apples and offers the kind of custard that soaks into every inch of bread crumbs while it bakes. I used whole wheat bread, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use whatever you have on hand—a raisin bread would be lovely.

bread pudding a la mode

It’s perfect for people like me, who tend to let their bread get hard and crusty and then wonder what to do with it because heavens! you can’t think I’m going out to the store now in this weather!, and I suspect it’s good for people like you, at least if you live anywhere like here, and could use something sweet and stew-like to cradle in your hands. Make it and tuck in for the night because face it: this winter thing isn’t going anywhere.




Whole Wheat Bread Pudding with Apples, Raisins & Walnuts
Adapted from Epicurious.com

I threw the chopped figs into this mixture on a whim, because I had them and thought, Why not? Well, I’ll tell you now why not: the figs will remind you of Fig Newtons, which were very good in third grade but not as much in your January bread pudding. I left it in the ingredients list, but next time I’ll refrain, and I leave you to make your own judgment on this.

Ingredients:
12 slices of wheat baguette (or 6 slices bread), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup honey
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/8 cups milk (I used a combination of 1% milk and heavy cream)
1/2 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 large Honeycrisp (or other type) apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped dried figs*

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325°F and grease an 8 X 8 baking pan.

On a cookie sheet, spread the bread cubes in an even layer, then stick them in the preheated oven to bake about 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, eggs, yolk and vanilla.

In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, cinnamon and nutmeg to a simmer and immediately take off the heat. Whisking constantly, slowly add this hot milk mixture to the egg mixture. Let the custard cool slightly. (Inhale deeply and think how much better life is when creamy, spicy mixtures like this are in front of you.)

In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, apple, walnuts, raisins and, if using, figs. Gently stir the custard into this bowl, tossing once or twice. Let stand for about 10 minutes, until the liquids have soaked into the bread throughout.

Spread the pudding evenly into the 8 X 8 baking pan. Bake until everything is brown and the edges are bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool, then slice and serve warm, topped with ice cream.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Jacqui

    even the name of it sounds warm and comforting: bread pudding. i like that. you know what else january and winter and long commutes mean? slow cookers. i think i’ll dust mine off very soon.

  2. Maria

    The first few lines of this post made me think of the opening strains of a Vonnegut novel. And that’s a really nice thing.

    Bread pudding sounds nice, too – even if it is studded with chewy fig pieces.

  3. Kim

    Mmmmm! Another stale/hard bread trick is to put it into something I like to call “throw it in a dish, cover it with cheese and bake it.”

    I started doing this with stale baguettes after seeing Rachael Ray make this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/bread-gnocchi-with-tomato-and-basil-recipe/index.html, but have since added my own variations.

    Basically, chop the bread into bite size (or slightly larger) pieces. Trick: Microwave the bread a bit to soften it enough to slice if you are like me and have week-old baguettes that could not possibly be sliced as-is. Take your bread chunks and put them in a pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toss ‘em around and cook until they start to get a nice golden brown color. Then, put them in a baking dish (sometimes I use a bread pan, sometimes a square pan, but I’ve found that a bread pan works nicely here) with some tomato sauce and whatever veggies you have lying around the house. I sometimes add sliced (pre-cooked) Italian sausage too. Top with mozzarella and any other cheese you like and bake for about 30 min at 375ish…until it is golden brown and bubbling on top.

    This is one of my all time favorite “recipes,” as it can be used in a million different ways…but it is especially good for stale bread!

  4. Cate

    I want SO MUCH to enjoy bread pudding…but there’s something about the texture that just throws me off. I’m willing to give it another try though. (Currently my favorite use for old bread is croutons or gazpacho).

    Oh, and thanks for setting up the food bloggers project 365 on flickr. I am having a blast with it, and the support is amazing!

  5. tiina

    This sounds like exactly what I need right now. I started the year with a flu, so comfort food like this for me, please. I’ll give the recipe to my boyfriend. He can make it for me:) BTW, I’m absolutely loving your blog. Gorgeous and smart. My new fav:)

  6. rachel

    oh my goodness today is as cold as it was when we were up there!!!
    sounds yummmy. i think the kiddies might even like it.. especially topped with ice cream or cool whip…or heck sprinkles make everything kid friendly— hum —kumquats with sprinkles on top!??!

  7. Shannalee

    Jacqui, You are reading my mind. You know what I just looked up online the other day? best slow cooker recipes. It is time indeed.

    Maria, I wish! Thanks for helping my ego along – you are very kind. And lol about the figs. I definitely ate around them. :)

    Julia, I know, I know! I honestly try not to, and I don’t often, and gosh, now I’m just making excuses. I’m working on it.

    Kim, Fun! Filing that away for the crusty bread I will no doubt have soon. Thank you for typing it out and sharing it!

    Cate, Hmmn, I can understand that. You could, of course if you wanted to, play around with proportions to make it less goopy or more goopy or whatever you want, but if it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing. Like me and mushrooms. I understand. Oh and PS I am loving our food-blogging P365 group too! So glad you’re involved!

    Tiina, Sorry to hear you’ve been sick! That was kind of how I ended 2009, and it does stink. Give your boyfriend this and any other recipe to get you on the mend! And PS I just saw your blog yesterday I think, so small world (I subscribed right away)! Thank you for saying this place is smart. That warms my heart.

    JessieV, Would you believe I just bought some coconut milk today? Fate.

    Rachel, You are kidding! Let’s hope that changes in a few weeks, right? Love your sprinkles idea. They always made me like things more, so your kids will probably agree. Can’t wait to see you all!

  8. jackie

    i know i sound stupid here, but i never actually knew you use actual bread to make bread pudding….it looks amazing, i might maybe i should be daring and try it soon!!

  9. Shannalee

    Janelle, It really is the redeeming part of winter that it pulls us toward the warmth of the kitchen. Bread pudding is perfect for that!

    Jackie, Ha! You don’t sound stupid (and I love that you commented here! first time?). Make this! I’d love to hear what you think!

    Erika, Bread crumbs is another good idea – saves you from buying it, right? Smart.

    Hannah, Indeed. Oh, I hope you do!

  10. Shannalee

    Leftoverist, Me too. Don’t you love things that are practical and enjoyable? There should be more of that in the world.

    Gemma, Indeed! Oh and I just saw a wonderful-looking chocolate bread pudding over at the blog Slow Like Honey, did you catch it? Next on my list.

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