Impromptu Savory Bread Pudding
Have you ever had something that you know you should be doing regularly but you just can’t find time to get to it? I call this my procrastithing. I have many of them.
I think most people would say their procrastithing is something like going to the gym.
I have a bunch, but one of my procrastithings these days is listening to The Splendid Table podcast. That might sound ridiculous, but as a food blogger, it’s something that I should really be listening to every week. For some reason though, I have a hard time finding the time.
Of course, every time I do listen to it, I freakin’ love it. They talk about everything I want to hear about. I especially like the part of every show where listeners call in with super-random food or cooking questions and the host, Lynn, always has an amazing answer for every problem.
Recently, a guy called in and said something like, “I’m cooking brunch for 50 people. It needs to be filling, fast, hot, and all that good stuff.” It was a tough one. Her answer was something I had never thought of: Savory bread pudding.
As soon as the words came out of my speakers, I knew I had to make it.
1) Butter an 8x8 baking dish. Tear pieces of stale bread into large chunks and layer them in the buttered dish. If you don't have any really stale bread, toast your bread for 10 minutes in a 300 degree oven to dry it out.
2) Add any sort of grated or crumbled cheese to the top of the bread until it just barely covers the bread. Two cups will be more than enough. I used a mix of cheddar and goat cheese.
3) Add a few handfuls of leftover veggies (or meat) to the dish. You can use almost any fresh vegetable. I used a roasted red pepper and 1/2 an onion.
4) In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk and pour the mixture over the bread and vegetables.
5) Cover the dish and let it rest for at least 15 minutes or up to overnight in the fridge.
6) Season the dish with salt and pepper and a tiny pinch of ground nutmeg.
7) Bake the dish at 350 degrees covered for 20 minutes and then uncovered for 30 minutes. The dish is done when the custard in the center are set.
8) Let cool for a minute or two and then serve immediately!
Recipe adapted from a Splendid Table recipe.
What the Custard?
Just like any bread pudding, you need a good custard. Depending on the size of your dish and how much bread you have on hand, you might need more or less custard than the recipe above.
Always shoot for two eggs for every one cup of milk. That’ll make for a really good custard.
Just whisk the eggs with the milk and set it aside until you need it.
The Pudding Parts
The best part about this recipe is its flexibility. I’ve only made it once, but I could tell immediately that you can put almost anything in it. You can use almost any kind of bread, any kind of cheese, and any kind of vegetable.
It’s the perfect leftover dish.
The one key to the dish is to make sure you have really stale bread. This will make sure that the bread can absorb a lot of the custard mixture. If you don’t have stale bread, no big deal. Just stick your bread in a 300 degree oven for about 10 minutes and it’ll dry it out quickly.
Then just break your bread into pieces and layer it into the bottom of a buttered baking dish.
Then cover the bread with whatever cheese you’re using. I went with cheddar and some goat cheese I have left over from my macaroni and (goat) cheese recipe.
As I mentioned, you can shove almost any veggies you have around (cooked or raw) in this dish. I went with 1/2 an onion and a roasted red pepper. I’m having a hard time thinking of something you couldn’t put in this though. Almost anything goes.
Just dice up whatever veggies you want to use and toss them on.
Then just pour your custard mixture right into your dish!
Give it a Rest
It’s very important to let this dish sit for at least 15 minutes, but ideally an hour, before baking it. You could make it the night before you needed it and just stick it in the fridge overnight. That would be fantastic.
When you are ready to bake it, season it well with salt and pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg. The nutmeg will really bring out the cheese flavors. It works well, trust me.
Baking the Dish
Bake this awesome thing at 350 degrees. I recommend baking it for 20 minutes covered in foil and then uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the custard is set in the middle. It should get slightly crusty and browned around the edges.
Let this rest for a few minutes once it comes out of the oven and then scoop into it.
It’s absolutely packed with flavor.
I could easily see how you could feed a bunch of people with this method. Just make these the day before the event and toss them all in the oven.
Does anyone else listen to The Splendid Table podcast? They do good work!