How do you warm a foodie’s heart? Himself has made a pretty good start. Huddled against the biting, snow swirled wind yesterday afternoon, I reached my icy hands into our cavernous mailbox and pulled out not one, but two, brightly colored foodie magazines. Someone knows me quite well and just added Saveur to my foodie subscriptions. Cold weather be damned, I’m immersing myself in pictures dripping with garden fresh veggies and the brightest citrus flavors. What, what was that? Oh don’t mind me, I’m just lost to the world over here.
It’s a good thing I finally cleaned up and organized all the recipes I’d already saved from my foodie magazines, because I just dog eared both these magazines. I mean the latest Saveur is all about grapefruit recipes, and we’ve already been over my recent obsession with citrus.
That citrus obsession continues with this bread pudding recipe. It’s from the humblest of ingredients, stale bread, too many eggs, fruit in the freezer that I wanted to use, but put them all together and they become something worthy enough for any foodie. Before we get to the recipe though, let’s talk about my BFF relationship with my chest freezer. Like any good country gal, I adore my chest freezer. My adoration for this appliance has soared to new heights as the temperatures plummeted to new lows. Reaching into a frosty freezer to find dinner is far better than heading out to my frosty car. My new BFF has totally encouraged my thriftiness too. Don’t worry, I’m not here for a lecture, but ever since my nifty-thrifty friend Joanna pointed out how much money is wasted on food ($2,200 per family per year!), I’ve wanted to save a little of that money for myself.
Enter the apples and pears in this bread pudding. Back in November, I bought up the last of the season’s peak pears and apples. And I bought A. Lot. So much that we couldn’t make our way through them, though I gave it my best shot. So I cooked up the fruit with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon, sauteing them in the littlest amount of butter until they were just slightly softened, but not anywhere near mushy. Let them cool, popped ‘em in some freezer bags, and let them chill away until inspiration struck.
That said, you probably don’t have fruit languishing in your freezer right now, but you could substitute any firm prepacked frozen fruit (thaw it first!) in the recipe, or just cook up your fresh apples and pears. Just avoid the mush or their glory will get lost in the pudding. You want these babies to shine!
However you decide to go with the fruit, do not wait to make this recipe. Nifty-thrifty Joanna would be so proud!
Apple and pear bread pudding
Adapted from The Kitchn’s Sweet Bread Pudding
butter, to butter pan with
5 cups stale bread cut into cubes
2 cups half and half
½ cup 2% milk
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
pinch of salt
1 ½ cup cooked apples or pears or a mix of both
¼ cup raisins, optional
Butter bottom and sides of an 8×8 inch pan. Place bread pieces evenly in pan. Sprinkle bread with apples and pear mixture. If using, sprinkle a layer of raisins on top of the apples and pears.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Whisk in milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, and salt. Pour mixture over bread and fruit. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
At least 15 minutes before baking, remove pan from fridge and allow to approach room temperature. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Bake bread pudding for 40 – 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm with whipped cream or just as its own delicious self.