In my previous post on how to make your own pain au levain from scratch, the recipe makes two loaves. If you're anything like my family, you probably will eat one loaf and the other will eventually go stale as it sits on the counter.
For those times when we just can't eat it fast enough, we resort to making some of our favorite meals with stale bread. It quickly becomes croutons or is sliced into pieces for a French toast bake. Stale bread is also good for strata and egg bakes and, well, bread puddings, which is where I plan to go today.
A good bread pudding, one that's sufficiently soaked with milk and sugar and plump, juicy raisins served steaming from the oven is a perfect winter dessert. Top it with a bit of brandy cream sauce, and you have a dish fit for guests or your next dinner party.
Brandy Bread Pudding
1 loaf pain au levain or any crusty bread, cubed (7-8 cups)
½ cup raisins
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons brandy
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
Add bread cubes and raisins to a large bowl. Whisk together milk, cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla, brandy, cinnamon and salt. Pour milk mixture over bread cubes and raisins. Stir to combine and allow to sit for one hour at room temperature. Pour into a greased 9x13" pan.
Remove bake from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350º F. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the center of the bread pudding is set and bounces back when tapped. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Slice into squares and serve topped with brandied whipped cream.
Brandied Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon brandy
Using hand beaters or a whisk, beat together heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in brandy and serve.
Photo by Shaina Olmanson
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