Monday, December 26, 2011

Challah Bread Pudding

Disclaimer: I am not Jewish. Though I have many, many Jewish friends and pledged a mostly Jewish sorority in college, I am a Catholic-raised Filipino girl.  Which means I grew up knowing next to nothing about their culture & traditions.  Having said that, I have always held in great respect the Jewish culture, including the foods, even if I wasn't familiar with them.  This year I decided to change my perspective by diving in and trying my hand at making some of the traditional foods...or at least, making dishes out of some of the traditional foods.  This is one of them.  About a month after I first made this pudding, I attempted potato took the 2nd try before they were worth mentioning.  ;)  I've been told my next project should be to learn how to make bagels.  ;)

I've always loved egg breads, and of course, when thinking about making a bread pudding, the quintessential egg bread -challah- should always be considered.  You can, of course, make this bread pudding with regular bread such as French or Italian, but I like how the pre-pudding shininess of egg breads still comes through even after they're made into dessert. I've seen bread puddings made many different ways, but since neither my husband nor I prefer raisins in our bread puddings, my recipe has them listed as optional.  If you prefer yours with raisins, add them in during the whisking of the eggs & milk step.  Also, if you prefer your brown sugar sauce to be differently -ahem- sauced, you can substitute whiskey or bourbon for the amaretto in the sauce recipe.  :)

Pudding -
1 loaf Challah bread
6 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
1 C sugar
4 C milk, warmed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp vanilla
2 Tbsp amaretto liqueur
4 Tbsp butter, melted
½ cup raisins (optional)

Brown Sugar Sauce -
8 Tbsp butter (1 stick)
1½ C brown sugar, packed
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
½ C water
2 Tbsp amaretto liqueur (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Make sure rack is set in the middle of the oven as much as possible.  Cut up challah bread into rough cubes, about 1x1"; does not have to be exact, but uniformity is the key.  Place cubed bread into 9x13" glass pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together warmed milk (should not be super-hot, but should be warmer than room temp) with egg yolks, eggs, sugar, salt and spices.  Add vanilla and amaretto. Gradually add melted butter.

Pour mixture over cubed bread, making sure that each cube is moistened.  If you miss some when pouring from the bowl, you can go back and submerge them using a spoon.  Make sure there are NO dry cubes, every piece should be soaked and softened with the liquid.

Place in oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is no longer liquid-y in appearance. (May take as  long as an hour, depending on your oven.)

While pudding is baking, create the brown sugar sauce.  Combine ingredients into a small saucepan set to medium-high to high heat. Stir vigorously to keep brown sugar from burning.  Once sauce comes to a rolling, foaming boil, remove from heat or turn down to lowest setting.  Cover and set aside.

When pudding is done, cool for at least 15 minutes.  Cut and divide into square pieces.  Pour sauce over individual bread pudding portions immediately before serving.  Can also be served a la mode (with a scoop of vanilla ice cream), but I find that to be just a *little* too rich for my taste.  ;)

Makes 12-18 servings.


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