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Brûlée Bread Pudding

Shack has been asking me to make him a bread pudding for about 18 years. Believe it or not, I am finally getting around to doing that now. I don't know why it has taken me two decades to make something I know would make him so happy but better late than never, right? Although I had dreams of making a pumpkin bread pudding with dark chocolate or some sort of exotic concoction,  I was shot down at every turn. He said I could add cinnamon and he liked the idea of dulce de leche or caramel but that was it. Oh, and raisins. He wanted raisins in it. Yeah, whatever, like that is ever going to happen. Pretty demanding for a guy who has been waiting his entire adult life for one of these desserts. Maybe I do know why it has taken me two decades to make him some bread pudding.

My original plan was to make the caramel bread pudding from Martha Stewart but two things happened. First, I didn't have a round 9" cake pan so I decided to make it in a springform pan and I was kind of worried about pouring all that caramel in the bottom because I know it leaks. I was still going back and forth about whether to do the caramel when I realized that I absent mindedly dumped ALL the sugar from the recipe into the custard. Adding the caramel sauce would add another CUP of sugar to the pudding and that was not going to be a good idea. There is such a thing as too sweet so by messing up the recipe, my decision was made for me and a new bread pudding was born.

Instead of panicking, I just decided that I would come up with something else to do that would make it pretty and a little bit special but that wasn't going to turn it into a cloying mess. Then I thought "well, we all really love creme brulee, I love an excuse to get out my torch out and it would only add a couple tbls of sugar to the finished dish so why not just brulee the top?"

I googled and reassured myself that other people have done this with great success so that decision was made by the time the pudding went into the oven.

I still want to try the full caramel recipe from Martha another time but for now, this was a nice little happy accident.

He thinks there are going to be raisins in there but he is sorely mistaken. I really dislike raisins in food and even though he has waited this long for his bread pudding, I have lines that I do not cross for anyone.

straight out of the oven before the brûlée

This bread pudding is quite solid - almost like a cake texture so if you like your bread pudding really custardy and creamy, this one isn't for you but I like it this way.

Brulee Bread Bread Pudding

adapted from Martha Stewart

8 large eggs2 cups milk2 cups heavy cream1 1/4 cups of sugar1 tbls vanilla1 tbls cinnamon1/4 tsp salt1 large baguette cut into 1" squaresbutter for the pan2 tbls sugar for dusting the top2 to 3 tbls dulce de leche ( I used a jar of PC dulce de leche)

The bread should be stale so if you have time, cut it up the day before and leave it out in a large bowl, giving it a toss from time to time so it can dry out. It's not the end of the world if you can't but it's a bit better if you do.

Mix the eggs well before adding in the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Continue to whisk or beat (I did mine in my kitchen aid) until well mixed. Now, pour that custard over the bread cubes in their large bowl and mix it all up, making sure the bread is all covered. Keep pressing the bread down into the custard occasionally and let it sit for 45 minutes to an hour.Preheat the oven to 350F. I made mine in a 9" spring form pan but you can just use a 9" cake pan too. Use the pan as a guide and cut a 9" circle from parchment and set that aside. If you are using a springform pan you might want to wrap the pan in a couple of layers of tinfoil unless you are 100% sure it doesn't leak at all. Mine does leak a bit so i wrapped the bottom in two layers.Butter the inside of the pan all over and then pour your bread/custard into it. Press it down and cover it with the parchment circle you cut. Now, put a kettle of water on to boil, place the cake pan into a larger roasting pan and when the water boils, pour it into the roasting pan until it comes halfway up the pan (more or less).Put the roasting pan with the cake pan in it into the oven and let it cook for about an hour and 15 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out pretty clean.Let it sit for 5 minutes and cool. Run a knife around the sides and invert it onto a nice serving plate if you used a cake pan or just remove the outer wall if you used a springform pan (don't invert it if you used a springform).Just before you are going to serve it, sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top and get your torch out and pass the flame of the torch evenly over the top of the pudding, just like you would for creme brulee.Put the dulce de leche into a small bowl and microwave until it's runny - in my microwave, 35 or 40 seconds is enough. Drizzle the dulce de leche all over the cake.

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