i'm back home in LA and am trying to blog much more so I can publicly launch this on my social media platforms for gracefulleats' sixth anniversary. but alas, i am lazy and am still recovering from the eight hour drive.
but i managed to get a post on christmas eve!!! so there's that, yay me!
growing up, and this is still true today, christmas was my favorite holiday. i believed in santa for a good amount of years and loved putting up the christmas tree and stockings with my family. i remember happily seeing the amount of gifts under the tree grow each day and waking up early on christmas day to open all the gifts and peek into our stockings.
we had family dinner too, and like many other asian families, hot pot was our traditional christmas dinner. as i got older, secret santa, white elephant, christmas parties, and giant christmas trees in shopping areas got thrown into the mix. now, the christmas tree duty has shifted to my sister's house with her husband, and christmas is less about the gifts and more about spending time together.
but the one thing that has remained the same is this: jesus. because in the midst of all the holiday cheer and gift giving (which i still thoroughly enjoy and unnecessarily stress myself out), it's easy to forget the fact that on christmas, God came to us. Jesus was born on this day into this sinful world, in a manger in bethlehem. because ephesians 2:4-5, because the gospel, and because into the darkness he came.
unfortunately, bread pudding wasn't a part of the christmas tradition mix for my family and me. while our mornings definitely consisted of many, many carbs (because what chinese meal is complete without 50% of the plate composed of some form of rice, noodles, or baos, or some combination of those things), but none of them involved carbs soaked with liquid.
This bread and butter bread pudding recipe comes from Joy the Baker, who (or is it whom?) I admire greatly. This bread pudding is comfort- thick slices of toasted brioche, lathered with butter, and drowned with milk, cream, sugar, and eggs. It's baked in all its custardy goodness with scattered blueberries, and drizzled with a rich chocolate sauce at the end.
Perfect for Christmas morning, if you ask me.
Baker's notes: it makes one big 9x13-inch pan, but feel free to bake them into ramekins, or two 8x8 inch pans. adjust baking time accordingly.
also, Bread pudding should be made with stale bread. Toasting it here helps with that. If you don't have brioche, I'm sure other breads will work as well- challah, french bread, thick slices of white bread, or even sourdough!!
bread and butter
makes one 9x13-inch pan
adapted from joy the baker
16 to 18 ounces brioche bread, sliced
1/2 cup dried blueberries, cherries, etc (optional)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened and divided
3 1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
scant 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
For The Chocolate Sauce
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup bittersweet or milk chocolate pieces/chips
make the bread pudding: preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place bread slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. keep an eye on the bread to make sure they don't burn. remove the toasted slices from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Butter each slice of bread with the stick of butter, reserving 2 tablespoons-ish of butter to grease a 9x13-inch pan. two 9x9- or 8x8-inch pans will work also.
Tear the buttered bread slices into large, bite-sized pieces, and place in the buttered dish. fair warning: it's going to be messy, but it'll be worth it. Add the dried fruit, if using, and move the torn bread pieces around around a bit to ensure the fruit is dispersed evenly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, vanilla, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk until it's mixed well and smooth.
pour the egg mixture over the buttered bread mixture in the pan. slightly press the bread down to make sure everything is well-coated and soaked. cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
Pour the creamy egg mixture over the buttered bread in the pan. Press the bread down just slightly to ensure that it's all well coated and the majority of it is soaking. Wrap lightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour (or even overnight).
bake the bread pudding: preheat oven to 350f. unwrap the bread pudding, and bake in oven until toasted, puffed, and golden brown, about 40 minutes. let it cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
make the chocolate sauce: in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. when it's warmed and just starts to bubble around the edges, add the butter and chocolate pieces/chips. stir until everything's melted, glossy, and rich. remove from heat, and let it cool slightly before serving.
to serve: scoop warm, generous servings of bread pudding, and drizzle lightly with warm chocolate sauce. if you have leftovers, store covered in the refrigerator. both the bread pudding and the sauce can be reheated in the microwave.
enjoy, hopefully on your cold, christmas morning!! unless you live in LA. then it might not be cold. sigh.
sdg and merry christmas,